Nursing homes are responsible for screening applicants for a history of abusive behaviors prior to hire. They cannot employ individuals found guilty of abusing, neglecting, or mistreating residents. They also cannot employ those individuals with a finding entered into a state nurse aide registry concerning abuse, neglect, mistreatment of residents or misappropriation of their property. Although no pre-employment background screening can provide nursing homes with absolute assurances that a staff member will not commit a crime of abuse in the future, nursing homes must make reasonable efforts to ensure that they have a workforce that will maintain the safety of their residents.
Prior to hire, nursing home staff (usually human resources or staff development) should screen potential employees against criminal record databases. A comprehensive examination of a prospective employee’s criminal record is completed in the state where the nursing home is located, as well as any state where the applicant has lived and worked.
Federal regulations require a nursing home to also check its state nurse aide registry to verify education, licensing, certifications, and training. This includes ascertaining if any complaints of abuse have been filed with the state registry against the caregiver. In addition, the facility must also obtain this information from every state nurse aide registry where the applicant has worked.
When state surveyors are conducting annual surveys and conducting complaint investigations related to an allegation of abuse, they might assess if the nursing home has performed such screenings. Many nursing homes surprisingly do not consistently conduct such screenings, endangering the population they serve. Due to high staff turnover and the need for qualified staff, administration may “look the other way” or “forget” to perform such screenings.
Completing these important screenings can assist nursing homes in their efforts to ensure patients are provided with qualified and skilled caregivers, and give you peace of mind that safe caregivers are employed by the nursing home.