Every year, millions of Americans—of all ages, though many of them are seniors—receive assistance with everyday activities in their homes. In-home care workers provide help with bathing, dressing, meal preparation and even transportation to appointments and the grocery store. These healthcare professionals are an invaluable resource for seniors and disabled individuals who prefer to live independently rather than enter an institution—but they’re also in a unique position to abuse or exploit their clients.
While caregiver background checks are a commonly used tool to reduce the chance of elder abuse in nursing homes and hospitals, ten states do not require home care workers to undergo any type of pre-employment screening. These include Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Montana, New Jersey, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wyoming. If you’re running an in-home care business in any of these states, you do not need to vet your workers against a criminal database before sending them into your clients’ residences.
Federal law itself does not require caregiver background checks or prohibit workers with criminal records from working in the in-home care industry according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. However, if you’re operating outside of the states mentioned above, the requirements for home care worker pre-employment screening will vary. For example, 35 of the remaining states have rules that bar individuals with specific convictions from in-home care positions, though the disqualifying offenses are not consistent.
Experts predict the aging of the Baby Boomer generation will soon add millions to the number of older Americans requiring in-home care. The government projects adults age 65 and older will number 71.5 million by 2030. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects the employment of home health aides and personal care aides to increase 48 and 49 percent, respectively, between 2012 and 2022.
In-home care businesses within this growing industry can differentiate themselves from their competition with a thorough caregiver background check process—whether they’re operating in one of the ten states without criminal background check laws pertaining to in-home care or not. Assure your clients—and their families—that their safety is your utmost priority with a thorough package including reference checks, credit checks (where allowed), in-depth interviews and drug and alcohol screening in addition to criminal records checks.