In October, Georgia will implement a new background-check-driven law that is intended to protect the elderly and other vulnerable populations from abuse at the hands of caregivers. Governor Nathan Deal signed the bill into law last May, paving the way for the “Georgia Long-Term Care Background Check Program.” The program, which goes into effect on October 1 of this year, will ramp up vetting requirements for individuals provide long-term care to seniors or adults with disabilities.
Per a report from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has tracked a 145 percent increase in elderly and disabled abuse in the past five years. The Georgia Long-Term Care Background Check Program will require “national” background checks for all caregivers working for businesses that provide long-term care. In January 2021, the program will add a new fingerprinting step to the process.
Under the law, all businesses that provide long-term care to seniors or individuals with disabilities will be expected to make sure their background checks are compliant. In addition to nursing homes, the list of affected businesses could include assisted living communities, agencies that provide in-home care, hospice care firms, and adult daycare providers. Businesses that fail to comply with the law will face monetary penalties of $500 for each day of violation (with a maximum fine of $10,000). Long-term care organizations could also lose their licenses from the state if they fail to meet compliance requirements.
Right now, Georgia only requires caregivers to pass a name-based criminal history check that focuses specifically on the state of Georgia. Critics have pointed out numerous holes in this policy, such as the fact that it doesn’t require employers to screen candidates for criminal histories in other states and that it ignores the potential for aliases or alternate names. In addition to fingerprinting, the new state requirement will add FBI database checks, searches of state and national criminal record databases, checks of the state sex offender registry, and nurse aid registry searches.
Because long-term caregivers are working with vulnerable individuals, there are often significant opportunities for abuse, neglect, theft, and fraud—among other crimes. Proponents of the Georgia Long-Term Care Background Check Program believe the ramped-up background checks will help care organizations in the state offer safer services to the individuals they serve, as well as more peace of mind for their families.
At backgroundchecks.com, we regularly work with organizations in the healthcare industry—including long-term care facilities and providers—to put together effective and compliant background check strategies. Click here to learn about our solutions for healthcare professionals, or contact us directly to ask any questions you might have.