Background Checks for Caregivers

Quality Background Checks for Senior Caregivers

Background checks, the official “criminal” background checks, are really only the starting point for senior care companies.  Why? Because understanding a background check and reading it properly takes skill and professional senior care companies have the skills required to properly read a background check.  It is also important to understand exactly what you are purchasing when you buy a background check on someone.

Online babysitter sites have had many babysitters hired who have used alias names and later been arrested for theft or had a criminal record.  This partly happens because these websites are easy-entry for these offenders and partly because those with criminal records know that many individuals do not know how to purchase quality background checks.  But this is also why hire-direct caregivers are also a risk for seniors and their families.  Bad guys look for hire-direct situations where they know someone may not do a multi-state background check.  Some consumers are not aware that some background check services are only a name and social security number match.  These bad guys specifically look for independent contractor hire-direct jobs because of this. 

The best way to avoid the bad guys and protect your senior loved one and the caregiver you are hiring is to do the following:

1)   Multi-state Background Check (include a minimum of 3 counties where the individual has lived)

2)   Match addresses on the Background Check report results to the addresses the person provides to you

3)   Research the Counties that require a Courthouse fee to be paid in order to access the criminal records because if you are not paying this additional fee, you are not receiving that county’s records

4)   Only hire a Senior Caregiver through a professionally licensed Senior Home Care Agency

Professional senior home care agencies will take care of all the necessary payroll taxes needed for a caregiver along with the professional liability insurance, Fidelity bond insurance and healthcare benefits.

Avoid “free” background check services.  As my Grandpa always said, when he took us to the General Store that had a basket of free candy –“if it is free don’t take too much”.  Sure, it is tempting and sounds good, but there is always a bad after-taste.

Also consider the source of information.  Anyone selling a background check should educate you on the process.  Caregiverlist provides information on the national law governing background checks, called the FCRA, or Fair Credit and Reporting Act.  Yes, the word “credit” is in this law but it does govern background checks, too.  There is the typical 7-year look-back limit, except in states that allow access to older criminal records if someone will be caring for seniors or children.  Caregiverlist provides the “By-State” Background Check Laws.

Here is what you should remember, too, the real bad guys move.  They are counting on you not reviewing their records from the past because you are only reviewing the criminal records for one county.

When I owned a senior home care agency I originally access the State Police background check records.  I then found out that your State Police service can only provide you with the information from your state.  How did I learn this?

A caregiver who we will call Yo-Yo seemed wonderful in every way.  Her Dad was a preacher and she wanted to be sure we knew this, and her background check came back clean.  She was very good with the client and made it a point to be good friends with her supervisor.  She even called her on Mother’s Day and was always very giving with compliments towards the company.

The best reason to use a senior home care agency to manage senior care services can be shown by the example of what later happened with Yo-Yo.

Yo-Yo provided live-in care for a senior lady who had some memory loss.  In live-in care situations, a minimum of two caregivers rotate during the week.  The caregivers do not actually “live” with the client.  The caregivers are able to go back to their own home each week and will usually work 3 days at a time.  They receive down-time in the evening and prepare and share meals with the client.  Some caregivers prefer live-in assignments as it allows them to manage a household in addition to providing care.

Our agency did regular check-in visits by Supervisors.  All senior home care agencies will monitor the care through interaction with both the caregiver and the senior and through daily Care Plan reports which are submitted weekly and “check-in” visits by Supervisors.

One weekend, when the Supervisor was “checking in” on Yo-Yo, it was discovered that the client’s car was not there.  Yo –Yo had decided to earn extra income by renting the car out to friends.

This situation was quickly corrected and Yo-Yo was terminated, although in the meantime she had fled.  Through filing a police report we discovered that Yo-Yo did have criminal record for shop-lifting and a few other petty crimes in Wisconsin and Texas.  However, she had performed community service for one of the acts and thus it was never permanently on her record (we probably aren’t suppose to know about it either but policeman will share things with you).

The police do have access to all the charges and can view criminal charges along with convictions in other states.  Yo-Yo did show up a few years later and actually made contact with the police to rectify her situation.

Just know that another way to be protected from people who are looking to take advantage of a senior is to simply hire a professional company to do the care – they are a barrier to the bad guys and they also have systems in place to quickly correct situations when needed.

Senior care can be difficult.  I believe the stress of senior care can take a toll on even a good caregiver.  Imagine caring for a senior who may be grumpy each day, or even mean as sometimes this can happen when personalities change through memory loss.  Little by little, even good situations can turn bad if proper support for the caregiver is not in place.

Most professional senior home care agencies will also start at least one new senior care case each month that was a hire-direct caregiver situation that went bad.  Learn about being a quality caregiver by securing training and only work with experience senior care professionals. Caregivers need support and also need proper systems in place to implement quality care and professional care managers know how to provide these tools.  A 10-hour online caregiver training provides basic-training for senior caregivers.

Review the Background Check laws in your state and the FCRA.


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