Wisconsin Senator Herb Kohl is trying to prevent abuse by insituting a national system for criminal background checks on nursing home employees. Please contact your Senators and encourage them to support this legislation.
Sen. Kohl says the best way to protect our elders from physical abuse is to institute a national system for background checks to determine whether those seeking to work in nursing homes and other long term care institutions have a criminal history before they are hired.
He and Sen. Pete Domenici (a Republican from New Mexico) introduced last month that would provide funding for a national register. Kohl said the national register will be a tool employers can use to ensure they are hiring responsible people. It would also prevent workers with a history of abuse from moving from state to state to find new jobs.
Statistics and first-hand accounts prove that brutality and abuse exist in long-term facilities.
Nationally, one of every 20 elderly people will be abused in their lifetime. Between one and two million Americans age 65 or older have been injured, exploited, or otherwise mistreated by someone on whom they depend for care or protection, according to Kohl’s statistics.
The bill would require states to notify employers about whether an individual has a disqualifying criminal history and provides employers with immunity from anti-discrimination lawsuits filed by individuals who are terminated based on a disqualifying history. At the same time, the bill calls for an independent appeals process for those who are disqualified.
The bill would also allow each state to decide which crimes would be considered disqualifying.
States would also have the authority to penalize providers for knowingly hiring workers with histories of abuse.