Long-term care workers could face multi-state background checks

When a loved one is placed in a long-term care facility, it is expected that he or she will receive the appropriate care. Nursing home abuse is not something anyone expects, but when it occurs, it can go unreported. This is due to an elderly victim's altered mental state, the facility not reporting it as mandated or because the victim may feel ashamed. In Kentucky, there are plans to put a new, mandatory background check program before lawmakers with the hopes that it will help to prevent the neglect, exploitation or abuse of those in long-term care facilities.

The program is called KARES for Kentucky Applicant Registry and Employment Screening Program. It is now a new regulation, signed into effect by the Administrative Regulation and Review Subcommittee of the Kentucky Legislature. It will add criminal background checks through the Federal Bureau of Investigations fingerprint database. This program will be voluntary and will be in addition to the other background checks already done in-state. By utilizing the FBI background check, potential employees that have a criminal record in another state will be identified.

Even though the program is voluntary now, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services' Office of Inspector General plans on asking the Kentucky Legislature next year to make it mandatory. Some believe that the program isn't going to work unless it is made mandatory by the legislature. This is due to the costs involved.

Because there was a federal grant awarded to the state of Kentucky, the first 36,000 of the FBI background checks will be free. However, after that, the cost is around $63. That's more than twice the current fees for getting a background check done in the state. In addition, the results of the FBI check will take between two days and one week. For facilities that have a difficult time filling positions, the added cost and wait time could make it even more difficult to find help, according to one eldercare program official.

For one man whose 24-year-old son was assaulted while in an adult day-care program, though, the added expense is not too much. He said that knowing the workers in long-term care facilities haven't got a criminal record is something that can't happen fast enough.

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