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Background checks to prevent elder abuse to begin by 2016

When you go to the bank and deposit your hard-earned money, you have some expectation that your bank has carefully screened any employees it has hired to ensure that they won’t mismanage your money or steal it. But what if an applicant had embezzled money and even served prison time in another state but the bank only checked to see if he or she had any criminal record in West Virginia? Would you feel that your money was secure?

If there is anything more important than your money, it is probably your family. Your parents have cared for you since you were born, providing everything that you needed within, and sometimes beyond, their means. So when your parents need more care than you are able to provide, you may look for in-home assistance or even a nursing home. If you knew that some of those agencies and facilities only did in-state background checks, would you feel secure entrusting your loved ones to those employees?

Believe it or not, up until now, that was the only requirement in West Virginia. While an in-state background check was required, federal records were checked for other states only if the applicant had lived outside the state in the past five years.

The Department of Health and Human Resources has announced that, by the beginning of 2016, all healthcare workers who have access to a patient’s home or who work in a long-term healthcare facility must pass a comprehensive background check.  The Department hopes that the new program will offer extra protection for the 12,000 residents of long-term care facilities in the state.

According to a news release from the Department, nearly 18,000 workers have direct access to the patients and residents in these facilities. With those numbers, chances are that even a comprehensive program cannot separate all the chaff from our loved ones. If someone slips through the cracks with the lack of conscience to commit some form of elder abuse, whether through intentional or neglectful physical injury, or through taking advantage of financial resources, civil remedies may be available in addition to criminal charges.

If your loved one has been a victim of this kind of abuse, an attorney with experience in holding facilities and their employees accountable may be helpful in explaining your options.

 

Source: West Virginia Metro News, “State DHHR begins background checks for long-term health care workers,” Carrie Hodousek, Aug. 5, 2015

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