There is sobering news regarding home health care providers and background checks. Federal investigators say home health care workers are escaping background checks in several states.
The news comes from the health and human services inspector general, who says there is no federal requirement for criminal background checks for home health care workers. This is according to a report in The Washington Times.
40 states do require some sort of check. However, investigators say convicts can become home health care providers in ten states. Those states are Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Montana, New Jersey, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wyoming. Four of those states apparently have said they have plans to implement record-checking requirements in the future.
20 states allow individuals to work with patients for a specified time frame while background checks are conducted. In 16 states, people who were denied home health care employment because of a criminal violation can submit applications to have the convictions waived, depending on the severity of the crime and the circumstances of the arrest.
So what can, or will, be done? A spokesperson for the Service Employees International Union tells The Times that states should run background checks on all direct care workers. The union also thinks states should fund the background checks and that the checks should include FBI database searches. The union also wants the checks done quickly with no cost to the caregivers.
This news has to be unsettling to people who have loved ones in the care of home health care workers. These workers are trusted to help people in their homes, often during the most vulnerable times of their lives.
This also serves as a reminder on how properly conducted background checks can provide piece of mind. Background checks can deliver a look into the background and character of a person, especially a person who is being put into such a trusted position.