September 26th, 2018 | BY: Allegra Chaney

What Is a Caregiver Background Check?

Dear Allegra,

My 83-year-old mother lives alone in a home she’s owned for almost 40 years. She’s reached the point where she can’t manage it all on her own but says she doesn’t want to “burden” her family by asking for help with tasks and chores. We finally compromised: she will accept assistance from a professional caregiver.

We are going to start searching for a home care agency to help her with household chores, transportation, and personal care. Before my brother and I begin meeting with agencies, however, I’m trying to create a list of questions to ask and research what services home care agencies near us offer.

I’m wondering if you could help me better understand caregiver background checks. I’ve noticed it listed on a few home care websites and I’m not sure what it means. Does it essentially mean to conduct a criminal background check for caregivers?

It sounds like an important factor to consider, so I want to make sure we thoroughly understand it.

Thank you in advance for sharing your insight.

Warmly,

Rita

Caregiver Background Checks and Older Adults

Dear Rita,

You are definitely on the right track! Caregiver background checks are important to learn about when you are searching for in-home care. Because in-home caregivers work in a senior’s private home, it is vital that you know the background of any potential caregiver.

State laws vary widely when it comes to caregiver background checks. Some states, such as California, have very strict laws for background checks and who can be hired to work in a senior’s home. Other states have only minimal requirements.

A caregiver background check usually follows a process similar to this:

  • A potential employee provides the home care company with their name, home address, and Social Security number. Sometimes fingerprints are also required.
  • Companies often use an outside agency to conduct a background investigation. The agency will conduct a thorough search and review the applicant’s past, looking for any criminal activity and convictions.
  • The investigative agency will report their findings back to the home care company.

While most home care companies focus their background checks on criminal activity, some go beyond that. A company might review an applicant’s driving record if they will be transporting clients to and from appointments and errands. Though it isn’t as common, some agencies also examine applicants’ credit reports.

As you meet with various home care companies, I suggest you ask how extensive their background checks are. You’ll likely find it is different from one company to the next.

Kind regards,

Allegra