The Wall Street Journal recently highlighted the prevalent, and sometimes lethal, cases of neglect and abuse by home-care providers. Not only are the elderly becoming more and more reliant on home health aides, but those with paralysis, brain injuries and other disabilities are more likely to end up with a home care situation instead of the institutions that were so common years ago.
With the rise of home-based care, there has also been a significant increase in reports of abuse, fraud, neglect and even death.
According the to The Wall Street Journal article, close to 1.6 million people work in home care, and between those who provide medical services and those who give non-medical care, this profession makes up the second fastest growing American occupation. With numbers like these, it’s not surprising that there are incidences of abuse – the question is, what can you do to make sure that you or your loved ones don’t become another statistic?
First off, while caregivers are required in most places to have both position specific training and background checks, training requirements vary based on where you live and background checks can’t predict what their potential for abuse is. Neglect often goes unreported, often because the patient is unable to convey it or because they fear telling on the caregiver.
There are no nationwide training requirements for caregivers and that also applies to most states. The best thing you can do is take a good look at the company who is hiring out your in-home help and do some research. Look at the Better Business Bureau, ask your doctor for recommendations and also talk to your local rehabilitation centers. Often they can refer a company that has a solid and reputable history.
Most importantly, don’t assume that just because a caregiver comes from a known company that they are someone you can trust. Keep your eyes open or enlist the help of a friend or family member who can do the same.