Kentucky Toughens Nursing Home Criminal Checks

In an effort to combat <"">nursing home abuse, Kentucky is looking to mandate more stringent criminal checks for workers who are responsible for the care of nursing home residents.

We have long been following the horrendous abuses against seniors spanning physical, emotional, chemical, and sexual abuse; neglect; and even workers who have abused residents as part of pranks against each other. In Kentucky, thanks to a $3 million grant, a statewide system will be created to conduct thorough background checks, said LEX18.

“The Commonwealth of Kentucky is very pleased to participate in this critical initiative that is designed to help long-term care facilities and providers avoid hiring individuals with certain criminal histories by conducting federal and state level background checks on prospective job applicants,” said Governor Steve Beshear, quoted LEX18. “This falls directly in line with our ongoing work to address elder abuse and improve patient care in long-term care facilities,” added the governor.

Today, Kentucky law requires that long-term care facilities only conduct background checks for prospective employees that are based on names. With the grant, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) will be able to buy the equipment needed to conduct digital fingerprint background checks, said LEX18, which noted that this equipment is expected to improve patient safety. The live scan equipment can be used for in state and FBI criminal background checks, said LEX18, citing cabinet officials.

There are 590 long-term care facilities, 101 assisted living facilities, and about 600 other health care providers that hire direct patient access workers in the state of Kentucky, said LEX18.

Kentucky’s new system will enable officials to conduct more thorough applicant screening at “nursing, intermediate care, and Alzheimer’s facilities; personal care and family care homes; home health agencies, hospice care providers, long-term care hospitals, personal services agencies, adult day care providers, assisted living facilities, intermediate care facilities for individuals with mental retardation, and developmental disabilities; and other entities that provide long-term services,” said LEX18.

In related news, a study on which we just wrote revealed that about one in seven older New Yorkers suffers from some type of elder or nursing home abuse. The Record Online cited a large study of residents over the age of 60 that found that in 2008 alone, a shocking 1 in 13 older New Yorkers was victimized. New York State is the operator of 2,000 group homes, which means that the state is responsible to care and protect about 10,000 residents with what The New York Daily News described as “severe physical and mental disabilities.” According to The New York Times, the state is not doing its job, wrote the Daily News, and group home abuse is running rampant.

We’ve long written that The elderly are among our most vulnerable citizens and, often, we have no choice but to place our older relatives in the care of others. Sadly, reports of nursing home abuse are on the rise as are nanny cams catching nursing home workers abusing residents. Recently, adding to the list of indignities, we wrote that 15 percent of U.S. nursing homes have received deficiency citations for the ways in which they manage infection.

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