Those who follow the reports of Illinois nursing home abuse are likely aware of efforts by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan to make local nursing homes safer by rooting out potential criminals within the homes. The surprise raids have uncovered a variety of individuals with criminal backgrounds living in these facilities. Laws also require proper background checks on nursing home employees. However, it is important to note that this also stands true for unlicensed individuals who work for licensed home healthcare care companies, including home healthcare aides.
A national study by the AARP Public Policy Institute explained the sporadic manner in which many states seek to protect seniors from elder abuse by home care workers. In Illinois, all unlicensed individuals employed as home healthcare aides must undergo the same background checks as those performed for nursing aides in nursing homes, according to the Illinois HomeCare & Hospice Council and the Health Care Worker Registry page of the Illinois Department of Public Health’s website.
Those behind the AARP’s research effort suggest that nationwide changes need to be made to protect these vulnerable at-home seniors. For example, they believe that multiple screening tools need be used to check on the utility of applicants for these positions beyond mere criminal background checks. According to the report, while 46 states mandate some form of background checks on these employees, there remains no uniform policy for screening and disqualifying candidates.
The care of seniors throughout the country, in all types of long-term care facilities-from nursing homes to their own homes-begins with the quality of the workers who are providing the aid. Anyone who regularly hears news of Illinois nursing home abuse is aware that the quality of care delivered is often a result of the quality of the employees. Our Chicago injury lawyers at Levin & Perconti know first-hand that nothing will do more to improve the care of our elders at nursing homes than ensuring each and every employee cares deeply about the true mission of the facility: providing the best care possible at all times. Even a single deviation from that standard can have deadly consequences, so it is important for long-term care providers to continue to use background checks as a tool to protect vulnerable consumers from abuse and negligence.