According to information released this week by a division of the California State Senate. problems with a computer database maintained by state officials has  exposed elderly residents in facilities other than nursing homes (such as assisted living facilities) to dangerous caregivers (in particular nurses aides) that had been banned from working in nursing homes. While the database was correctly tracking nursing staff that had been found guilty of abuse, neglect and/or theft of nursing home residents, it wasn’t able to check background records maintained by other state agencies. At least 20 nursing assistants banned from nursing home employment since a law creating the database was enacted in 2006 had managed to find jobs in other facilities that care for the elderly.

“There is no excuse for allowing people with known histories of abuse to work in residential care facilities for the elderly or as caregivers in any other setting”, Michael Connors, long-term care advocate for California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, said in response to the report’s findings.

In all of these cases studied, state Social Services employees were unaware of the earlier misconduct. Although it obtained criminal histories on applicants, the department did not check to see if they had been sanctioned by other state entities that oversee health care and human service workers.

With the potential for frail nursing home residents to be harmed by their caregivers, I believe family members should be legally allowed to install hidden cameras (a/k/a “granny cams”) to keep an eye on their loved ones.  Some states allow them, while others do not. Securing the right to protect nursing home residents with hidden cameras should be another item on the agenda to promote positive nursing home.

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