In my last post, I talked about a presentation by Dr. Lee Lindquist at last week’s National Private Duty Association annual conference. She is very impressive and those of us in non-clinical home care learned a lot.
She is also refreshingly blunt and tough with her messages to the elder care industry and the families and individuals we serve. For those of you who do not subscribe to the Journal of American Geriatrics Society — there may be 1 or 2 out there 🙂 — The Care Company presented a summary of a study Dr. Lindquist and her colleagues published. The article is The Case of The Scary Caregiver!
For families, elders — and home care agencies that are doing — or not doing — the right things the right way — there are some great messages, including:
- Only 55% of the agencies did a federal background check and many agencies didn’t check for any type of criminal record.
At Support For Home In-Home Care, we are very aware of this problem. From day 1, we hired a national firm that gives us 7 years (the maximum) of federal, state (all) and local information, as well as from the Sex Offender Registry and, of course, driving records. In fact, we get updates from DMV whenever anything changes for one of our employees. Unfortunately, most home care agencies where we are use the California Department of Justice for background checks. That sounds good, but it ain’t. The DOJ only provides 5 years (not 7) of California state and local information — not good.
The second point from Dr. Lindquist’s study is:
- Only 1/3 of the agencies did any type of drug testing. That means that paid caregivers who might have a drug problem have access to a senior’s medications.
We also find this to be unacceptable for home care agencies. At Support For Home, here is our process, and we wish everyone used it:
- We ask every applicant, at the time of their final (often 3rd) interview, if they are willing to do a drug test, in our office. If their answer is no, they do not proceed any further. Sometimes they say yes, but they need to get something from their car, and that is the last time we ever see them. 🙂
- If they proceed with the drug test, it is a saliva-based, 10-point panel that literally occurs in our office, under our control. If they test “positive” for any of the 10 panels, and they disagree with the result, we administer the test again (using a new kit). If the results are the same and they still maintain that the results are wrong, we send the applicant, right then (not tomorrow or whenever), to a nearby medical lab for urinalysis.
- The medical lab, if involved, determines the reality of drug use and reports to us.
This takes a little more time and resources on our part, but there is no reason every home care agency cannot perform an equally reliable drug testing procedure.
There are many more critical points in the study, which we will continue in Part 2. In the meantime, best wishes. Bert