Background Checks for Home Health Care- Who is Working in Your Home?

A recent article from Bloomberg BuisnessWeek points out the potential dangers associated with the growing trend of home health care. As the population of the US ages, more and more people are turning towards home health care as a way of taking care of themselves and their family members. However, though a popular alternative to more traditional forms of care for the elderly, such as nursing homes, consumers must be aware of the potential risks that are associated with choosing this option. Namely, do you really know who is entering your home?

According to Bloomberg:

“There are also no federal laws or regulations that prohibit [home health agencies] from hiring individuals who have been convicted of crimes (e.g., assault, rape, and theft) or who have had a finding concerning abuse, neglect,” or mistreatment, according to the analysis by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General.

Therefore it is recommended that before hiring someone in your home, it is wise to have a background check done in order to gain a better understanding of whom exactly is taking care of you. However, the quality and depth of background checks for home health care providers vary widely from state to state. In fact, in 10 states (AL, CT, GA, HI, MT, NJ ND, SC, WV, and WY) there exists no requirement to conduct a background check for home health care providers. This means that it is possible for workers in your home to have not been vetted prior to working. It is important to note that in these states workers under the oversight of Medicare are required to be cleared prior to employment. However, for providers working under the jurisdiction of Medicaid or a private company, this requirement is not as strict. Therefore, it is possible that the person entering your home to provide health care services could possess an alarming background.

In many ways it is up to the consumer to ensure the legitimacy of the person who is providing their home health care. It is recommended that the consumer familiarize themselves with the laws and regulations for background checks in their own state. It is also recommended that they talk to the service providing their home health care to understand what type of vetting process is in place for employees. Finally, consumers also have the ability to conduct their own private background searches. Websites such as offer online background searches that are available to the individual consumer.

Understanding who exactly is providing your home healthcare is a good way to ensure the safety of your family and your belongings. Therefore, understanding the background of who is working in your home can provide you with more peace of mind when it comes to home health care.

Read the Original Article- “No Background Checks Needed for Home Health Workers in 10 States” (John Tozzi, Bloomberg Buisnessweek)

More Information from the Department of Health and Human Services

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A rising senior at Colgate University, John is currently working as a research fellow with Consumers' Research.


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