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What Is A Caregiver Background Check?

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When family members don’t have the time or capacity to care for a senior parent or loved one full-time, they need to entrust that care to a hired caregiver.

You don’t want just anyone looking after your senior, which is why background checks for a potential caregiver are so integral to the hiring process.

What does one of these background checks constitute?

A caregiver background check is a review of a potential caregiver’s personal history that divulges criminal activity, such as convictions, offenses, or infractions from the past. The information provided through a criminal records check can potentially disqualify prospective employees. 

If you’re interested in completing employment background checks before hiring home health aides or a professional caregiver for the elderly person in your life, then you can’t miss this guide.

We’ll explain how long it takes for the background check process, what might disqualify potential caregivers, and more.

Why Do A Caregiver Background Check?

Caregiver background checks are rarely free, at least not the in-depth background checks that produce the kinds of detailed backlogs of information you’re looking for. 

Even still, in many situations, we think they’re warranted, both from the perspective of a home care company that’s hiring staff and for an adult child looking for the best in-home caregivers for their senior parent or loved one.

After all, older adults might not always be able to stand up for themselves.

Through old age, frailty, medications, or conditions such as dementia, a senior might not be able to identify abuse or theft as it’s happening. 

They’re certainly helpless to stop it in their condition, which can make it very easy for unscrupulous personal care assistants to take advantage of a situation. 

Granted, a caregiver background check isn’t a foolproof way to prevent these kinds of occurrences from happening, but a criminal history screening does act as an additional safeguard that should give you peace of mind. 

Read about what to look for in a home care aide.

Is A Caregiver Background Check Different Than A Regular Background Check?

You’re probably somewhat familiar with background checks and might have even submitted to one or two at the time of hire at a new company.

The purpose of a regular background check and a caregiver background check is the same, to deem a potential employee eligible for a job role.

Is a regular background check different than a caregiver background check?

Not necessarily, no. 

Both are employment-related background information checks that are requested by a potential employer before they make a hiring decision. 

The minimal requirements for a background check include collecting information such as a Social Security number, a current home address, and a full name. 

Additional requirements might include a photo ID or driver’s license number.

There may even be a fingerprint check if the employer is looking into criminal history records for federal offenses like major felonies.

The person or company requesting the criminal background check must also specify which states need to be searched in order to acquire all necessary records.

Additionally, a signature is typically required either on paper or electronically as an affirmation that all details given on the background check application are correct and current.

Typically, fees for a criminal background check are also required in order to obtain results from government databases and agencies.

How Long Does A Caregiver Background Check Take?

First, you’ll need to get permission to perform the background check from the vocational nurse or personal care aides you are interested in hiring.

Once you get their information and submit it to an agency, how long will you be waiting for the results?

In general, it will take at least three business days (72 hours) before the results of the background check are complete and can take upwards of five days.

Do keep in mind that in some cases, you could be waiting even longer, such as up to 10 business days for the caregiver background check to complete – or possibly even longer in rare cases.

What Disqualifies You From Being A Caregiver?

When doing a caregiver background check, exactly what kind of criteria can disqualify a potential caregiver from being hired in that role?

Really, it’s anything but a minor traffic violation. Here is a list of crimes that can preclude a caregiver from getting a job. 

Violent Crimes

Any form of violent crime on a caregiver’s record makes them automatically ineligible for hire.

Examples of violent crimes are aggravated assault, forcible rape, and of course, murder, including non-negligent manslaughter. 

These are all very serious crimes, especially rape and murder, and should be treated as such. 

Abuse

Abuse of any kind, even if they weren’t necessarily elder abuse cases, are also enough to cost a caregiver their job. 

A history of abuse means that it could happen again, and we’ve already talked about how much more vulnerable seniors are to this sort of thing. 

You need to protect your senior parent or loved one, which means you wouldn’t want to hire a caregiver with a record of abuse. 

Robbery

While technically, robbery counts as a type of violent crime, it’s often highlighted separately, so we’ll do the same. 

As is the case with abuse, if a caregiver has a history of robbery, those same bad behaviors can crop up again when caring for the elderly.

A senior probably doesn’t manage their money at this point in their lives, so they can get stolen from right under their noses for a long time without realizing it’s happening.

If a caregiver stole material possessions, then a senior’s confusion from old age, medication, or a condition like Alzheimer’s could preclude them from noticing. They might assume they simply misplaced the item. 

Sexual Assault

Although you might not think so, sexual abuse of the elderly population happens more often than most people realize. 

As such, a sex offender search should be part of a thorough caregiver background check.

Thus, a caregiver with a record of sexual abuse should not be eligible to take care of a senior or anyone.

These crimes can and do go unreported and unpunished due to the elderly victim’s inability to always communicate clearly. 

An adult child might not always believe an accusation of sexual abuse, or the abuser can even coerce the elderly into not saying anything. 

Repeated Driving Offenses 

Although it’s the least egregious crime on this list, if a caregiver has a bad driving record with a lot of accidents or other automobile-related crimes, this too can cost them their job of working as a caregiver.

That’s especially the case for serious driving-related crimes such as DWI or DUI.

Part of being a caregiver might entail transporting a senior to and from medical appointments, the grocery store, the pharmacy, or just around town.

You need to be able to trust that the caregiver you hire is going to safely drive with your senior parent or loved one in the vehicle, so repeated driving offenses are a no-go. 

Can You Work At A Nursing Home With A Misdemeanor?

What if a caregiver only has a misdemeanor on their record? Could they be hired to work in a nursing home or in any other caregiving capacity?

A misdemeanor is technically only a small wrongdoing and isn’t a serious crime.

However, various states hold misdemeanors at different weights. They’re still always less than felonies but can be serious.

In states such as California, any criminal history on the part of a caregiver requires instant disqualification from a potential job.

The candidate would have to seek a state exemption to even be eligible for a job. 

Other states that don’t perceive misdemeanors so gravely could possibly allow a caregiver to get hired at a nursing home even with a misdemeanor on their record. 

It would really depend on the candidate’s criminal record as a whole.

Nursing homes and other elderly care facilities have to account for any crimes that come up on a caregiver background check no matter how long ago they happened. 

It’s at their discretion whether they want to hire a candidate with a less-than-stellar record. 

Conclusion 

Being a caregiver is a major responsibility. Day in and day out, it’s their job to maintain the health and wellbeing of an elderly person.

Since it’s such a significant job, many nursing homes, assisted living communities, home care aide organizations, and even adult children should request their own background check before hiring a caregiver.

The background check produces a record of a person’s history and criminal convictions for violent crimes, robbery, sexual assaults, driving crimes, and misdemeanors. 

Doing a thorough search of this information is critical in making a sound hiring decision, as so many crimes against the elderly can go unreported.

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