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July 20, 2011

State Resources to Vet Caregivers Underutilized (USA)

State resources to vet caregivers underutilized
BY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Jul 19, 2011
PORTLAND — Private care­givers who help the elderly are not subject to background checks or oversight, and officials concede that government resources to help vet them are largely unused.
The state Department of Human Services reports that there were 2,350 cases of abuse involving elderly people living at home last year. Elder abuse can take the form of physical or sexual attack, although it’s more common that vulnerable seniors and their families become victims of fraud and theft.
“It’s a common misconception that if someone holds themselves out to be a caregiver they must have been checked by someone, somewhere. When, in fact, they have not,” said Jeff Lesowski, a senior deputy district attorney in Washington County.
State law requires background checks for caregivers paid through Medicaid or other public programs, but not for those who are paid privately. State and local agencies offer training, background checks and help with aging spouses or relatives. But officials say that most people aren’t aware of those government resources and often turn to online classifieds such as craigslist.com in search of caregivers.
Decisions about a senior’s care are often made during times of high stress or medical crisis, and there’s often little time to investigate all the options.
State research found that Oregonians tend to look to their doctor for advice about an aging relative.
“The doctor knows about acute care, such as nursing homes, but is usually not schooled in the whole network of social services,” said Elaine Young, a program manager with the state’s Seniors and People with Disabilities Division.
In an effort to help people connect with vetted caregivers and other services for seniors, the Aging and Disability Resource Connection of Oregon launched a searchable website with resources in every county. The Oregon Home Care Commission also offers connection to an online registry of caregivers who have cleared criminal background checks.
Dennis Rolling turned to craigslist.com two years ago when looking for a caregiver for his 80-year-old mother. He found a woman with a “good personality” who “took good care of mom,” he said. But he later discovered that the caregiver was using his mother’s charge account to buy jewelry from a home-shopping network, and other questionable transactions showed up among his mother’s bills.


SOURCE:      The Register Guard
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