Many Caregiver Agencies Fall Short, Study Finds

Only 55 percent of the surveyed agencies did a federal background check, and only one-third of them conduct drug testing of their employees, a Northwestern Medicine study found.

People who hire a caregiver from an agency to care for an elderly relative may wrongly assume the caregiver has undergone a thorough criminal background check and drug testing and was experienced and trained for the job, according to a study from Northwestern Medicine that has been published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. The researchers found many agencies recruit workers online for placements in the homes of elderly people with dementia, don't do national criminal background checks or drug testing, and lie about their tests checking the caregivers' qualifications and the training they provide.

"People have a false sense of security when they hire a caregiver from an agency," said lead study author Dr. Lee Lindquist, MD, an associate professor of medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. "There are good agencies out there, but there are plenty of bad ones and consumers need to be aware that they may not be getting the safe, qualified caregiver they expect. It's dangerous for the elderly patient who may be cognitively impaired."

The study was funded by a grant from the National Institute on Aging. It found only 55 percent of the agencies did a federal background check, and only one-third of them conducted employee drug testing. "Considering that seniors often take pain medications, including narcotics, this is risky," Lindquist said. "Some of the paid caregivers may be illicit drug users and could easily use or steal the seniors’ drugs to support their own habits."

Lindquist, a geriatrician, said some surveyed agencies concocted names of screening tests they claimed to use for applicants. "We had agencies say they used a 'National Scantron Test for Inappropriate Behavior' and an 'Assessment of Christian Morality Test,'" she said. "To our knowledge, these tests don't exist. If you're not a smart consumer, you won't recognize which agencies are being deceitful." This task is difficult because many agencies have impressive websites and marketing campaigns, she said in the Northwestern news release about the study. "It's a cauldron of potentially serious problems that could really hurt the senior," Lindquist said. "These agencies are a largely unregulated industry that is growing rapidly with high need as our population ages. This is big business with potentially large profit margins, and lots of people are jumping into it. Some of the paid caregivers are so unqualified it's scary and really puts the senior at risk."

Product Showcase

  • Glove Guard® Clip

    Safety should never be compromised, especially when it comes to proper glove usage. The Glove Guard® clip enhances safety by encouraging employees to keep their gloves with them at all times. This reduces the risk of accidents and injuries on the job. By ensuring everyone has their gloves readily available, we help promote a culture of safety and efficiency. The Glove Guard® clip is designed to withstand the toughest work environments. Constructed from robust materials made in the USA, it can endure extreme conditions, including harsh weather, and rigorous activities. Read More

  • Preventative Heat Safety

    Dehydration and heat exposure impair physical and cognitive performance. Proper hydration boosts heat stress resilience, but hydration needs are highly individualized and hard to predict across a workforce. Connected Hydration® empowers industrial athletes to stay safe through behavioral interventions, informed by sports science, and equips safety teams with critical insights to anticipate high-risk situations and adapt to evolving environmental factors. Curious about applying the latest in sports science based hydration strategies for industrial athletes? Stop by booth #1112 at AIHA or schedule a free demo today at https://epcr.cc/demo. Read More

  • EMSL Analytical, Inc. - Air Sampling Supplies & Testing Labs

    EMSL Analytical, Inc. operates laboratories throughout the United States and Canada. EMSL is a nationally recognized and locally focused provider specializing in fast laboratory results for Asbestos, Mold, Silica, Lead & Metals, Bacteria, Legionella, USP , Combustion By-Products, VOC’s, Radon, PCB’s, Formaldehyde, METH/Fentanyl, Identification of Dust & Unknowns. Sampling Pumps, Cassettes, Media & Supplies available. Reach us at 1-800.220.3675 Read More

Featured

Artificial Intelligence