Several recent cases of elder abuse, fraud and theft at the hands of healthcare workers are frightening reminders of how vulnerable seniors can be. This problem may be worsening as more and more older people choose to hire in-home healthcare as compared to entering into assisted living or nursing facilities.

AARP reports that polls show the vast majority of people over 50 want to remain in their homes for as long as possible. AARP research consistently finds that nearly 9 out of 10 people age 65-plus (and 8 out of 10 boomers) want to remain in their homes and communities for as long as possible, says this blog post. The Affordable Care Act is helping them achieve this by putting $4.2 million into training more than 5,100 new home health care workers in 6 states. An additional $3.8 million to train ‘patient navigators’ to help Medicare patients with chronic illnesses is being used in seven states.

etting a home health care worker you don’t really know into your home is risky, but there are steps you can take to help mitigate that risk. Here’s our list of tips to help keep you or your loved ones (and their valuables) safe.

Use a licensed placement agency. Most states have laws requiring healthcare agencies to uphold hiring compliance statutes like performing background checks, getting candidates drug tested and verifying their credentials and references. This is one layer of protection you definitely want, and it’s certainly worth repeating. The single most effective measure you can take to protect yourself is to verify that your placement agency has run a thorough background check (not just FBI fingerprints) on your prospective caregiver. Active Screening specializes in screening for the healthcare industry and we can create custom packages for you and your clients needs.

Using a bonded and insured agency also protects you from the liability you’d assume if you hired someone through word of mouth or the classifieds. You’d be held liable for any costs related to an injury that happens on the job, including medical expenses and disability payments if your employee is considered ‘freelance.’ You’re also able to ‘shop around’ with an agency until you find the right personality match with a caregiver.

Perform your own reference checks. Just because you’ve decided to use a licensed placement agency doesn’t
mean you have to take everything at their word. You can request to perform your own background check and hire a nationally-accredited agency like Active Screening to run it for you. For more details on what information we’d need to get started, click here.

It’s also entirely within your right to ask to run your own reference checks on the home health aide the agency is sending your way. If you don’t feel comfortable making these calls, you can ask a family member or friend. But if a potential caregiver doesn’t want you following up beyond what the agency has reported, that may be a red flag.

When an aide first shows up at your home, feel free to ask them questions to. Do you like the way they speak to you? Do they set you at ease? Do you have any common interests? Remember, you’ll be seeing a lot of this person and letting them into your home so you want to develop a trustworthy, comfortable relationship with them.

Review your own financial statements every month. It can feel like a huge relief to finally have someone else to
 share the burdens of daily life. As you get older, simple tasks can feel like an energy drain and you may not have the stamina or focus needed to plow through them. It’s usually not a good idea, however, to let your home caregiver have access to your money, credit cards, bank statements or any other financial or personal identifying documentation. There are predators out there who prey on trusting seniors. Even if they offer to provide this service or something that appears harmless – like sorting mail – do not take them up on it.

It’s also a really good idea to get your free credit report every year.

Find out if your agency sub-contracts with other agencies. If you can avoid working with an agency who uses another agency to help fill positions, do it. You may not know the details of their hiring procedures and a criminal like this guy could slip through the cracks.

What other tips do you have for our readers? Please share them below! And, click here to learn more about how Active Screening can help keep you safe in your home through our impressive background check process.

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