Many kinds of elder abuse can be prevented by the careful selection of a nursing home or long-term care facility, home health or home care agency, or home caregiver. You should visit any home, facility, or agency you are considering.
Ask the following questions about a nursing home or long-term care facility:
Even if the home or facility has policies and procedures to safeguard residents' possessions, a resident or a family member should do the following:
Home health agencies are hired when the elder's doctor orders services requiring the skill of a medical professional. These agencies are licensed and regulated by the California Department of Health Services. Their staff members, i.e., nurses, nurse assistants, and home health aides, are also licensed. Make sure all these licenses are current and the agency is Medicare and Medi-Cal certified.
Ask the following questions about a home care agency. Note that unlike home health agencies, home care agencies are not required to be licensed.
Do not rely completely on an agency regarding the trustworthiness of a caregiver. Conduct some checks on your own, e.g., with former employers, as you would in hiring privately.
In hiring a caregiver privately seek referrals from a trusted source first. If possible avoid using a “help wanted” ad. And do not respond to an ad by a person seeking employment as a caregiver. Interview all prospective caregivers. For your safety, do it in a public place, e.g., a coffee shop, not at your home. And don't give out your home address. Ask the applicant to do the following:
If you decide to do the investigation yourself you should first check the applicant's employment history and personal references. Then you should check the public records of criminal and civil court cases in San Diego County in the past 10 years. They are available at the following four locations:
330 W. Broadway
San Diego, CA 92101
East County District
250 E. Main St.
El Cajon, CA 92020
North County District
325 S. Melrose Dr.
Vista, CA 92083
South County District
500 3rd Ave.
Chula Vista, CA 91910
You should also call the San Diego County Courthouse at (619) 544-6401 to find out whether there are any outstanding San Diego County warrants on the applicant. All you need is his or her first and last name and birth date. Warrant information is available to the public and it's free. A search of outstanding San Diego County warrants can also be made on the County Sheriff's website. Just click on Warrant for Arrest. For records of cases and warrants in other counties you must contact the court clerks and sheriffs in those counties.
As an employer of an unlicensed person providing non-medical home care to an aged adult you can also get a California criminal history of the applicant from the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Information by asking the applicant to submit fingerprints to the California Department of Justice. This can be done electronically at any Live Scan site in the state. The locations of these sites are listed on the Office of the Attorney General's website.
For more information on these and other tips for hiring a home care worker go to the AARP website. This page also has links to checklists for selecting an in-home care agency and a nursing home.
After hiring a caregiver you need to be clear about what he or she can and cannot do. Some of the things that he or she cannot do include the following:
If the elder cannot handle his or her finances, you will have to do the following;
Some questions to answer in assessing the performance of a caregiver include the following: