Increasing demand for caregivers underscores importance of background checks

Posted by Kristina Taylor
January 31, 2012

Increasing demand for caregivers underscores importance of background checks

America’s aging population is having an effect on the healthcare sector, with more people entering the healthcare field to meet the increasing demand for professional caregivers to aging and ailing parents whose children live an hour or more away.  

According to the National Institute on Aging, about 7 million Americans are long-distance caregivers for their aging parents, and that number will continue to rise, as the number of adults ages 20 – the age group most often faced with caregiving – shrinks while the share of people 65 and older rapidly expands, according to the Associated Press.

With more displaced workers switching careers in order to find a job, the need for quality background checks has never been higher. The healthcare field is a unique one, in which the criminal background of a potential employee is as important as the breadth and depth of their experience in the field. Employers in the healthcare field need to be diligent in their pre-employment screening process, as more workers apply from outside the healthcare sector to fill the growing need for quality care.  

Take about five minutes and look through the Craigslist “help wanted” or “services wanted” ads.  It’s amazing to see how many individuals and families (we’re not talking about companies here) are advertising in this unregulated forum for babysitters, caregivers for the elderly and even short- and long-term housesitters.

It’s just a guess, but it’s pretty likely that these folks are trying to save a few bucks.  And who can blame them?  The economy isn’t at its best right now, but that doesn’t mean little Johnny or Grandma Mabel can be left alone.  So the best compromise seems to be a roll of the dice.  This is perfectly understandable… but is it wise?

Perhaps it sounds like we’re a bit persnickety about such matters; however, our fear comes from years and years of conducting background checks.  Too many times, people who seem “great” turn out to be anything but.  And a simple interview just cannot unearth what a thorough background check can.

Does this mean no one should use online mediums to find help?  Of course not.  But it may be wiser to look for people who have already been vetted by a company or organization.  There are numerous web-based companies who regularly background screen their cadre of professional helpers such as babysitters, housesitters and caregivers for the elderly.  Will the fee for their services be higher?  Probably.  But a few dollars spent may save years of problems if the wrong person is put into the position.

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