Caution: Senior Caregivers Put The Aged at Risk

Agencies place unqualified, possibly criminal caregivers in homes of vulnerable seniors

Northwestern University

If you’re like many risk-averse people, you’d never hire a random stranger off Craigslist to care for an aging parent. You’d hire a senior care worker through an agency – where they screen out criminals, check references and provide training, right?

Is That Home Health Worker an Ex-Con?

That’s where you’d run into trouble. A study by Northwestern University finds that a huge percentage of elder care agencies are not performing basic screening and many are deceitful about their screening and training.

According to the study’s author, Lee Lindquist, M.D., an associate professor of medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, out of the 180 agencies that were shopped:

  • 55% did not do a Federal background check.
  • One third did not screen workers for narcotics use.
  • Almost 60% relied on worker’s self-assessment of skills.
  • 70% did not provide supervision of workers.
The author recommends that you shop around for home healthcare workers, seek out personal recommendations and ask the following questions to all agencies:

1. How do you recruit caregivers, and what are your hiring requirements?

2. What types of screenings are performed on caregivers before you hire them? Criminal background checkfederal or state? Drug screening? Other?

3. Are they certified in CPR or do they have any health-related training?

4. Are the caregivers insured and bonded through your agency?

5. What competencies are expected of the caregiver you send to the home? (These could include lifting and transfers, homemaking skills, personal care skills such as bathing, dressing, toileting, training in behavioral management and cognitive support.)

6. How do you assess what the caregiver is capable of doing?

7. What is your policy on providing a substitute caregiver if a regular caregiver cannot provide the contracted services?

8. If there is dissatisfaction with a particular caregiver, will a substitute be provided?

9. Does the agency provide a supervisor to evaluate the quality of home care on a regular basis? How frequently?

10. Does supervision occur over the telephone, through progress reports or in-person at the home of the older adult?


photo credit: kay la la via photo pin cc

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