Be wary of negligent retention when employing senior caregivers
There have been several recent stories regarding the negligent retention of caregivers who have taken advantage of their elderly clients’ finances, stealing thousands of dollars from them before being caught. Take for instance, the Utah caregiver that stole $140,000 from her 86-year-old client — after being trusted to pay bills on the senior man’s behalf — by writing herself checks and forging his signature. Or the California caregiver who asked her 80-year-old client, a dementia patient, if she could borrow $100 day after day for more than three months, before the client’s family became aware of what was happening. And of course, the Florida caregiver who forged checks and conned her client out of more than $928,000 over a two-year period. According to the Utah Department of Human Services, up to 5 million elderly adults are exploited every year. If the families realized they were responsible for the negligent retention of a thieving caregiver, these and many other victims could have avoided having their life savings eradicated. To prevent your loved ones from suffering similar fates:
- Hire a caregiver from a certified government or private agency that specializes in senior care. Ensure that both the individual and the agency have the proper licenses and certifications, and that the agency requires background checks to be run on all employees, to avoid negligent retention.
- If you choose to hire someone outside an agency based on a personal recommendation, conduct your own background checks, or hire a service to do so for you. You’ll want a basic criminal background check at minimum; a credit check couldn’t hurt either.
- Communicate with your family, and with the caregiver. If your family member is cognizant, see how they feel about the person spending time in their home. In addition, specify to the caregiver what his or her duties should be, including whether they will be responsible for cleaning, cooking or other tasks.
- Avoid putting the elderly in situations where they may allow their caregivers to control their finances. Insist that your family member should not give caregivers access to any bank accounts.
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