The incidence of eldercare abuse in rest homes and nursing homes is unacceptable and in spite of the fact that the majority of such abuse occurs in the home, there is no excuse if negligent hiring is leading to it occurring in what, after all, should be secure facilities. Secure, that is, in relation to families confidence that their elderly relatives are being properly looked after.
There are many forms of eldercare abuse, ranging from simple assault through excessive restraint to emotional and even downright deliberate sexual abuse. Theft is also not uncommon and much of this could be prevented by means of an effective pre-employment screening procedure. Why is it that the industry that should be most vigilant in whom they employ is apparently the least?
Elderly people frequently suffer falls through negligence, though it is claimed that to restrain elderly people, which is lawful, in order to prevent them from injuring themselves if allowed to roam freely is itself a form of abuse. In such cases there can sometimes be no answer and perhaps a written disclaimer from the family could solve the problem.
In the absence of this, however, it is one of the functions of a rest home to ensure that their charges are not harmed, so they frequently resort to sedation to prevent inmates from harming themselves when struggling to be free from the restraints. Restraint, however, can be used too extremely, and is a common form of eldercare abuse.
Negligence in nursing homes is not uncommon and could be prevented by effective pre-employment screening of job applicants. Negligence in such establishments takes many forms, and it occasionally goes beyond negligence. Many elderly people suffer from hunger and dehydration through inadequate care, and negligent hiring has much to do with this.
Eldercare abuse has become so serious that it became a federal issue, and action has been taken in an attempt to reduce this abuse much of which, in effect, is criminal assault. The answer is to ensure that all staff is adequately qualified and that proper background checks have been carried out. Eldercare abuse is too prevalent for nursing homes and health care facilities to ignore it, and any inadequate employee screening is, and should be dealt with as, negligent hiring.
All levels of employee in such establishments have been found guilty of eldercare abuse at various times, including doctors, nurses, non professional employees and agency staff. All could possibly have been avoided by thorough background checks, and this failure is inexcusable. There are many professional companies that can carry out effective employee screening for health care establishments, so there are no excuses for having this done properly.
Although many previous employers refuse to provide more than employment dates when requested for a reference, vigorous requests for further information can achieve results. Employers of nursing home personnel have an obligation to carry out background checks, and if these are shown to be insufficient, leave themselves open to negligent hiring litigation. A failure to carry out a full residential check and criminal record check in each county of residence constitutes just that.
Agency staff is not always thoroughly checked out, and you should ensure that any staff employed through an agency has had full pre-employment screening. Temporary staff, especially temporary nursing and non-professional staff, are often inadequately screened due to a shortage of such personnel willing to work in eldercare facilities. Nursing homes should request full details of background checks carried on staff referred to them, or refuse to take on such employees.
Such checks should include not only the residential and criminal record checks previously referred to, but also credit references and full past employment checks. If previous employers refuse to provide full references then the prospective employee should be asked for written permission for previous employers to provide a full reference. If this is refused by the candidate then employment should be refused in return. No one with nothing to hide would refuse such a request. This approach can be taken with any information you require, including medical records. If the applicant refuses permission, then the argument that they have a right to privacy, although correct, can only indicate the existence of some fact that they do not want you to know.
Negligent hiring is a serious and potentially extremely expensive offense, and eldercare abuse will not reduce until complete and thorough background checks are carried out on all employees in such establishments.
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