Last updated: December 18, 2018
Nursing homes have been around for centuries helping families with convenient services for the care of elderly relatives. However, they are getting more and more notorious for scandals involving various forms of abuse. In fact, the trend is so shockingly prevalent with about 10% of the elderly in the United States reporting that they suffered some form of nursing home abuse or neglect in 2017. And this is just the victims that came forward
One solution to reduce the occurrence of abuse and neglect is for employers and nursing home owners to run thorough background checks before hiring healthcare staff. Here is a little more on the whys and whats of these checks.
Before we get too far, it is very important to first understand exactly what is considered nursing home neglect. This can be divided into five categories of atrocities as follows.
- Physical abuse: This is where the elderly resident is subjected to bodily harm of any kind. It rarely comes to kicks and blows so do not expect any major injuries in most cases. More often than not the assault includes things like pushing and rough handling during things like changing clothes, giving baths and so on. What makes this form of abuse so bad is the fact that the elderly are rarely able to defend themselves. They also happen to be more fragile therefore more prone to injury.
- Emotional abuse: This form leaves no visible scars but has a huge effect on the health and life quality of a geriatric person. It could be anything from making statements about their impending death to complaining that they are a burden. It is important to understand that loss of youth does not mean the loss of feelings. So they will get hurt by these snide comments made by insensitive staff.
- Financial abuse: This can happen either at root level with direct caregivers or at management level. It is very easy to take advantage of an old person financially as they usually do not know a lot about things like current price averages and so on. It is therefore not uncommon to find private nurses overcharging their clients for simple services. Some even go to the extent of actually stealing money and other valuables from them especially in the case that the client has some form of memory loss issue.
- Sexual abuse: This is without a doubt the most heinous form of elderly abuse. Again the fragility and inability to defend themselves makes the elderly an easy target. Fortunately, these incidents are few and far between. However, it is still important to do all it takes to prevent the incidences from occurring.
- Neglect: In order to understand the magnitude of this disappointing trend, soak up this shocking statistic. It is estimated that 1 in every 10 nursing home residents has a pressure ulcer due to neglect. These wounds are very difficult to treat and what makes it worse is the fact that they are very easy to avoid. Other common complications from neglect in these homes include infections from poor sanitation, skin irritation, venous clots and so much more.
Reasons Why Employers Should Run Background Checks
So far, it is evident that a lot can go wrong if the elderly are left in the care of the wrong people. Running a pre-employment background check on potential nursing home staff is truly one of the best ways to ensure that these incidences do not occur at all. Here are the 2 main benefits of making this investment.
- To protect your clients: If you run a nursing home your number one priority should always be offering the best possible services to your clients. Running these checks is in their best interests as it ensures that they are cared for by people who know and love what they are doing.
- To protect your business: It is also very important to protect your own interests in addition to ensuring that your client is safe and comfortable. The last thing you want is your otherwise decent business sinking under the weight of one employee who has no business dealing with elderly clients. To conduct the necessary investigations to ensure that every new member you take onto your care team shares your vision and passion for quality geriatric services.
A thorough background check should examine the following:
Criminal history: A criminal background check is very important as it is often an indicator of a potential misdemeanor in the future. You want to avoid people with a history of sexual abuse of geriatrics, financial crimes, and aggravated assault.
Psychiatric healthy and history: Whoever is taking care of the clients should be of sound mind. They should also be emotionally stable. All this is easy to figure out with a simple background check.
Training history: Not just any old Joe from the street can take care of an elderly person. Training is important and this can be confirmed by investigating their educational background. To be safe, it is always best to work with registered and licensed professional caregivers.
Experience with geriatric patients: It is not enough to just be trained; experience also goes a long way. Someone who has never handled a geriatric client is more prone to mistakes like neglect especially if they trained with younger clients.
What If It’s Too Late?
Sometimes horrible caregivers slip through the cracks. If this happens after you ran a thorough background screening, the next step is to report the matter to the relevant authorities. Unfortunately, not many people do this. In fact, only 1 in 14 cases of elder abuse is reported to authorities in the United States.
When reporting nursing home neglect, it is critical to collect as much evidence as possible. This includes everything from photographs to witness statements and the patient’s claims. With the help of an attorney, photographs and witness statements make it a lot easier to build a solid case against the perpetrator of the abuse or neglect.
It goes without saying that background checks, pre-employment screening, and active supervision are must-does for nursing home management. The last thing anyone wants is a criminal or ill-intentioned person taking care of the generation responsible for some of today’s most incredible developments. Whether you get a free background check on the internet or you go all out on a professional private investigator, you will lose absolutely nothing by taking these cautious steps. So do it; for the sake of your clients and your business.
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