Nursing home abuse not the only risk for elderly in Alabama

If you place your loved one in the care of a home health care worker in Alabama, you probably think that the people helping him or her will be checked out before they enter your loved one's home. Surprisingly, a report from June 3 states that in 10 states including Alabama, home health care workers don't have to go through background checks.

These are some of the same people who you may think about when you consider truck accidents or other elder abuse cases. Those states, Alabama, Connecticut, Hawaii, Georgia, Montana, North Dakota, New Jersey, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wyoming, have no safeguards to protect your loved ones.

According to the news, there are no federal laws that protect people in these or other states from individuals who may be hired with sullied backgrounds. There are no regulations that prohibit the home health care agencies from hiring those who have been convicted of crimes like rape, assault or theft. That means that your loved one could be at risk for abuse, neglect or mistreatment.

In five states in the 10 with no background checks, there are steps being taken to develop plans for them. Alabama is not one of those states. This is surprising considering how more and more states are becoming stringent with requirements for health care providers and workers. One report states that in seven states that screened a total of 220,000 applicants for long-term care jobs between 2005 and 2007, one in every 24 applicants was disqualified from being a worker due to serious crimes. That's a shocking 4.3 percent.

With no rules preventing these people from working in your loved one's home, you may be concerned about his or her care. It's important that you discuss your case if you've discovered neglect or other issues; this kind of lack of care can't continue.

Source: Bloomberg Businessweek, "No Background Checks Needed for Home Health Workers in 10 States" John Tozzi, Jun. 03, 2014

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