Caregiver Background Check: the Caregiver Job Edge

Caregiver jobs are growing at an incredible rate. According to the latest statistics, an average of 4.5 caregivers are hired by senior home care agencies per week. The senior home care industry has grown 40% since 2008 because more seniors prefer to age in place, at home.

So how do you stand out as a home care specialist in your search as a CNA, home companion, or Home Health Aide? What will make you an especially attractive job candidate for a quality senior home care agency?

A background check is essential if you are going to work in the caregiving industry. Because seniors are especially vulnerable, families and home care agencies will insist that you are free from criminal behavior and financial irresponsibility. Many employers will insist that you have a background check  before you walk in the door. Certainly, a good background check will give you a leg-up on the competition and prove to any prospective employer that you can be trusted with elderly care.

What will a background check show? Most will show:
    •    Social Security number confirmation (name matches the number)
    •    Current and historical felony convictions
    •    Arrest record (usually only actual convictions)

A senior home care agency must review the information found in the background check, but cannot use it to discriminate in hiring an applicant. View the Caregiverlist.com video "How Employers Review a Caregiver Background Check."   

Each state has its own background check law requirements. You can see review your state’s laws for background check disclosures with Caregiverlist’s Background Check List (FCRA ) by State.

Not all online background checks are equal, so to make sure you get the report that will get you the job, Caregiverlist.com has made it easy for you.

You can purchase a simple Social Security Number Match. This verifies your name matches your Social Security number for current and former addresses and shows employers you are who you say you are. It is the very minimum required in order to secure a senior caregiver job.
Cost: $8.00 Turnaround time to receive: Same day as submitted.

You can also request a Criminal Super Search with Social Security Number Match. Your best value, this report verifies your name matches your Social Security number for current and former addresses to verify you are who you say you are AND provides instant multi-state search of criminal records (includes District of Columbia). Includes felony and misdemeanor records, sex-offender records, inmate records and arrest information for 3 counties.
Cost: $18.00 Turnaround time to receive: Same day as submitted.

Give yourself the best opportunity at a job with the best senior home care agencies. At the very least, see what your background check says about you. And once you have a great report in hand, apply for a part-time or full-time Senior Caregiving Job.

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Caregiver Stress Relief Photo of the Week

Caregivers employed with senior care companies know the realities of caregiver stress. Caregiverlist invites all family caregivers and professional caregivers to take a moment for relaxation with our photo of the week and inspirational quote.  Thank you for caring for our seniors. Remember more caregivers are needed, please refer your friends to apply for part-time and full-time job positions on Caregiverlist.com and visit our career center for additional career tools. 

Caregiverlist Stress Relief Photo of the Week

"You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late."

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Texas City New Braunfels Sues The Scooter Store for Taking Job Creation Money

The Scooter Store, which will go down in history for successfully billing Medicare (and receiving payments) for power wheelchairs which were really cheaper scooters, was raided by the FBI and additional investigators earlier this year.  Now, the city where they are located, New Braunfels, Texas, has filed a lawsuit against the company for pocketing $3.4 million for job creation through a 2009 economic incentive program and then laying off thousands of workers.  The company claims they were impacted by a change in Medicare reimbursements (and tightening Medicare restrictions that helped end the company's practice of obtaining power wheelchair reimbursements from Medicare for cheaper scooters).  

New Braunfels, Texas, would now like $2.6 million of the economic stimulus money back for The Scooter Store's inability to maintain employment levels.  The Scooter Store has laid off 1,000+ employees and is keeping around 100+ employees for now in order to keep collecting the monthly payments on wheelchairs that are not paid off yet.

Caregiverlist originally wrote about The Scooter Store's fraudulent billing and misrepresentation of scooters for wheelchairs back in 2010 when the U.S. Government changed the category of reimbursements to be more clear on the status of a power wheelchair vs. a scooter which had 3 wheels and in no way can offer the mobility protection that a power wheelchair does to a senior who truly has mobility issues.

Power Wheelchairs for Seniors: Scooter Store's Pursuit of Medicare Benefit Opens Door to Fraud ($19 Million+)

Taxes should be less, not more, right? It seems like most people, as we approach April 15th, especially, agree with this.  It would also make sense that we would always want to save the government money on any programs, to help make our tax dollars go further.  But as we know, there are those who are looking to profit handsomely from any government program that will allow them to do so. The new healthcare law has been effective in cracking down on Medicare fraud and now it seems The Scooter Store could be the next company to go away, after selling seniors wheelchairs they could not use, did not want or need. So much for trying to save the government money, right? And they took advantage to the tune of $100 million in overcharges. Medicare reimbursements for power wheelchairs increased by more than 350% after The Scooter Store came along.  Scooter Store employees are now sharing stories of how the company color-coded doctors to indicate which doctors would approve of a "power wheelchair" for medical need, paid for by Medicare or Medicaid.

Medicare reimburses seniors for the purchase of a "power wheelchair" when a medical doctor has approved the need for the power wheelchair.  The reimbursement to medical supply companies was generous - so much so that some medical supply companies would call the home care agency I owned for 7 years and offer us $200 for each power wheelchair referral.  They received upwards of $2,000 for the sale of each power wheelchair from Medicare.

However, in 2011, Medicare finally changed the power wheelchair reimbursement to match the payment format for regular non-power wheelchairs which was a monthly rental fee.

A funny thing then happened at The Scooter Store when they were faced with "normal" profit margins.  Cash flow became tight, layoffs began and the push to gain medical doctor "approval" by going from doctor to doctor to doctor began. Former employees say they were urged to go to another more "friendly" doctor and to reach out to as many as 3 doctors if the first medical doctor declined approval for the wheelchairs.

This is why The Scooter Store would purchase television advertisements and announce to seniors that they could keep their wheelchair if it turns out they did not meet Medicare approval.  The Scooter Store scooted off to find wheelchair manufacturers who would go to China to produce wheelchairs for a very low cost and then of course they also helped facilitate the medical doctor "approval" of the wheelchairs.  A whistle-blower at the company took advantage of the government's whistle-blower protection program and shared that The Scooter Store sort of had their own medical doctor network who would approve of the need for the wheelchair. 

Here is the good and bad news.  If you truly do need a power wheelchair, for sure both you and your doctor know this.  It is simple.  You have difficulty with mobility and walking.  If a company needs to buy advertisements on television to convince you that you need a "scooter", which by the way, they can get for you for free from Medicare, well, there is probably "all kinds of wrong" with this, as my Grandmother would say.  A private company is trying to take advantage of a government program and profit at a much higher percentage than they would if truly operating as a private company with out a juicy government payment.  The fact that The Scooter Store could not operate a profitable company once Medicare reimbursements changed in 2011 speaks for itself.  Many, many other power wheelchair companies operate fairly and are profitable and were not impacted by the change in reimbursement from a lump sum to a monthly payment as it also is profitable reimbursement level.

The reality of needing a power wheelchair also comes with the fact that you will need assistance in customizing the wheelchair to fit your height, weight and arm and hand movement capabilities.  What if you also have arthritis?  This means that the medical equipment company fitting you for the wheelchair truly has some work to do to make sure the wheelchair is customized to fit both you and your home.  Then they also need to train you on how to properly use the wheelchair safely.  This is worth having Medicare pay them a fair price for their labor and is why the reimbursements may sound a bit generous to those who don't understand all the customization that is necessary.

A quality medical equipment company will also come to the home as much as is necessary in order to make sure the senior's wheelchair fits them properly and that all the necessary adjustments have been made.

Ordering a wheelchair that is really a "scooter" from a television ad takes away the customization.  In addition, promoting taking advantage of the power wheelchair benefit for use as a "scooter" just because you might want to get around a bit quicker is taking advantage of a program that was set-up to benefit those who truly cannot walk easily.  Used golf-carts might be a better solution for the senior who just wants a scooter to tool around the neighborhood in.

Medicare changed the definition of power wheelchairs precisely because of The Scooter Store.  Even if The Scooter Store's wheelchairs were high quality, it still cost taxpayers a huge amount of money by pocketing the profits from a program that was meant for seniors who truly needed a power wheelchair.

The Scooter Store settled with the government after the whistle-blower case for around $4 million and you may review this case with the Department of Justice here.

And now it seems The Scooter Store has been excluded from a list of 800 companies awarded contracts to supply medical equipment to Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries beginning July 1, 2013.  In February, 2013, law enforcement officers raided The Scooter Store's Texas headquarters as part of an investigation in alleged fraud.  The Scooter Store founder, Doug Harrison, did step down from his role as CEO in 2011 and while many of us are trying to save the government money, he has in the past been a bit bummed out that the government was being more efficient about reimbursements, as you can see in this news release, when he complained that the government would no longer reimburse for wheelchairs at 6x's their wholesale price.............most retailers, by the way, are happy with 100% mark-ups.

Timothy Menke with the Office of the Inspector General says the investigation involves his agency, plus the Department of Justice, the FBI and the Texas attorney general's Medicaid fraud unit, according to The Associated Press.  

In 2012, an independent auditor determined that the company over-billed Medicare between $46.8 million and $87.7 million, the Express-News reported. The company agreed to repay $19.5 million after the Office of the Inspector General threatened to exclude it from federal health care programs.

We wonder if the U.S. Government will take one more step and hold accountable Mr. Harrison, the founder of The Scooter Store, as well.  Just as the Enron executives were held accountable for their actions.

The U.S. government had to create specific definitions about how a power wheelchair is not a scooter because of The Scooter Store trying to capitalize on the power wheelchair reimbursement from Medicare:

"By representing to physicians that their patients wanted and needed power wheelchairs, The SCOOTER Store obtained thousands of “Certificates of Medical Necessity” from physicians who did not know about the company’s fraudulent practices. The SCOOTER Store then billed government and private health care insurers for power wheelchairs, which were far more costly than power scooters, and collected millions of Medicare and Medicaid dollars.

The SCOOTER Store received $5,000 to $7,000 in reimbursement for each power wheelchair it sold, more than twice the amount for a scooter, which sold for around $1,500 to $2,000. Many beneficiaries had no idea what kind of equipment they were getting, until it was delivered by The SCOOTER Store.

The government’s lawsuit also alleged that The SCOOTER Store knowingly sold used power mobility equipment to beneficiaries and billed Medicare as if the equipment were new, in violation of Medicare regulations. In addition, the U.S. alleged that The SCOOTER Store charged Medicare millions for unnecessary power mobility accessories."

 Note:  The Scooter Store spent $1 million + lobbying Congress to maintain the previous Medicare reimbursements for wheelchairs.

 

Caregiver Stress Relief Photo of the Week

Caregivers that care for the elderly know the realities of caregiver stress. Caregiverlist invites all family caregivers, professional caregivers and certified nursing assistants to take a moment for relaxation with our photo of the week and inspirational quote.  We would like to thank you for caring for our seniors. Remember senior caregivers are needed, please refer your friends to apply for part-time and full-time job positions on Caregiverlist.com and visit our career center for additional career tools. 

 

caregiver stress relief photo of the week

"The heart is the toughest part of the body. Tenderness is in the hands."

Carolyn Forche

Senior Care Planning: Living to be 105-Years-Old

Senior care costs vary widely, based on the care needs required for the senior and the living situation.  Does the senior live in a home that has been paid for fully and receive social security benefits?  If so, they can better pay privately for caregiving services.  If the senior does not own a home and requires full 24-hour caregiving services, they may qualify for Medicaid benefits, for very low-income seniors, and receive care in a Medicaid nursing home.  This is the safety net for all Americans currently.  However, as nursing home daily costs can vary from $100 to $400 per day, even the Medicaid senior care services are predicted to evolve as the number of seniors will quadruple in the coming decade.

Plan ahead for your own senior care needs to smooth the path for your family.  Remember, life expectancy of a child born in the U.S.A. today is 100 years.  Remember also that how you live your life today - eating right, exercising and finding a fulfilling life purpose, all impact the quality of your health as you age.  Nursing homes are often an extension of a hospital stay for seniors who may need rehabilitation and Caregiverlist's nursing home directory provides the daily cost of nursing homes nationwide.

Happy Birthday to this 105-year old senior who shared her photo with us celebrating her birthday at 105 with her great-granddaughter celebrating her 5-year-old brithday:  Birthday twins at 5 and 105!

Caregivers - let us know how old your senior clients are and if you can top age 105 - photos are welcome.  Enjoying sharing special life moments are another of advantage of working as a senior caregiver.

Certified Caregiver Training: Caregiver Certification Training Requirements

Certification for senior caregivers means a caregiver has been trained on the basic caregiving skills and passed a competency exam to verify they completed the course work.  Many skills must be mastered in order to deliver quality caregiving to a senior who may have challenges with mobility and memory, in addition to dealing with age-related illnesses.

Senior care companies nationwide, as part of the National Private Duty Association, now renamed the Home Care Association of America, came together to establish basic training skills for professional caregivers.  The state of Illinois adopted these basic training requirements as part of licensing requirements for senior home care agencies in 2008.  Most states do not have formal training requirements but suggest basic training skills be provided at orientation for new caregivers.  New Jersey and Florida do have training requirements for home health aides.

Family caregivers, along with professional caregivers who would like to formerly begin a caregiving career may now take these industry established basic caregiver training through an online course to be certified.  Senior care companies continue to seek high quality caregivers to fill ongoing part-time and full-time jobs and access Caregiverlist's proprietary hiring system to hire each week.  You may apply to a professional caregiving job on Caregiverlist and be considered for multiple openings in your area.

 

 

Senior Tax Deductions 2012

Tax filing season for fiscal year 2012 is drawing to a close. Senior care expenses for the year quickly become apparent. Family caregivers often ask if Uncle Sam offers a tax deduction similar to the tax deduction for child care when you file each year. The answer is, yes.

You can claim the elderly relative as a dependent. Your parent does not have to live with you but you must be providing for more than half of their financial support, which includes food and transportation. If you and your parent meet the Internal Revenue Service's criteria, you will be able to deduct up to $3,700.00 from your taxable income . Social Security benefits are not counted in most cases.

In addition, the Internal Revenue Service lets you deduct medical costs as long as they are more than 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income. This may include the medical (and dental) expenses of everyone listed on your tax return, including your spouse and dependents.

Caregiver expenses incurred may be eligible for deduction as well. Keep in mind medical expenses include travel expenses to and from medical treatments, along with uninsured treatments, such as hearing aides and false teeth.

Siblings participates in the financial support of the parent, some families rotate the deduction to a different child each year. Please do consult your accountant and review the specifics on the IRS publication guides (IRS Publication 502 covers medical expense deductions and IRS Publication 554 covers dependent care deductions).

Caregiving Jobs: A Career Path

Caregivers are a special breed. The work is hard, the hours are long, and the pay is usually minimum wage. The job is demanding and can be underappreciated. However, no one questions that the job of the caregiver is vital and the industry is growing at an exponential rate. The need for quality caregivers grows every day.

In-home caregivers directly affect the well being of others like few other professions. The bond between a senior and caregiver is akin to a familial relationship. This relationship is a growing trend as our population ages and the elderly look more to aging at home as opposed to a nursing home.

Many senior caregivers come to the profession by way of family caregiving. Some start their caregiving career as home companions, Personal Care Aides and  and Home Care Aides. The best way to get started on a professional caregiving career path is to work with a quality Senior Home Care Agency;  great agencies will provide additional training, support and benefits.

A lot of caregivers move on to become Home Health Aides and Certified Nursing Aides (CNAs) and work with Home Health Agencies. Certification requirements vary from state to state, but the federal government requires 75 hours of training, as well as a competency evaluation.

Some elder care workers go on to open their own Home Care Agency, as Caregiverlist’s own CEO Julie Northcutt did. There are choices to make: will you open a medical or non-medical homecare agency? Does it make sense to purchase an existing franchise or start an agency of your own? Of course, you will need to file for licenses and permits with your state’s governing agency. Many can send you a packet of information on how to get the process started. Of course, if you want to become a quality Senior Home Care Agency, Caregiverlist provides a very specific checklist outlining standards for safety and consistency in care.

Our recent Senior Caregiver Pay blog post received a lot of comments, most of them decrying the state of wages caregivers receive. We hear you. Rest assured that we are committed to caregiver advocacy and are hard at work developing affordable online caregiver training and certification that you can take at your own pace to make you a more attractive employment candidate to Home Care Agencies. Hopefully, Caregiverlist Certification will broaden your skill set and enable you to command a higher hourly rate.

The senior citizen population is on the rise and caregiving as a profession, need and concern is not going away anytime soon. Finding and properly compensating quality in-home caregivers is finally getting the national attention it deserves.  

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