October 14th, 2014 | Sterling
Scandalous Seniors In Assisted Living Facilities
Spotting the gap in your screening policy isn’t always easy. But it can be a lesson that some senior living operators are learning the hard way. Senior citizens are considered a vulnerable sector of society and that is why assisted living communities and seniors homes routinely conduct thorough background checks on their employees. But why is it that they often don’t screen the residents?
Robert Short, a 64 year old resident of a senior living facility in California was busted for dealing methamphetamine, which he was allegedly cooking up in his apartment. Short was pulled over by police during a routine traffic stop when officers discovered the crystal meth and electronic scale. Upon further investigation of Short’s apartment, they found another half-pound of crystal meth and some other drug paraphernalia.
In another case in North Carolina, staff of an assisted living community discovered that three new female residents had previously been arrested for selling the prescription drug, oxycodone. Despite uncovering this troublesome information, the operators were unable to evict the women because there was no violation of the move-in agreement.
It’s not just drug peddling grannies who pose a threat. Sex offenders residing in nursing homes are becoming a major concern for operators. Wes Bledsoe, President of A Perfect Cause, a non-profit organization dedicated to senior living advocacy, claims that he has found 1,600 registered sex offenders living in senior care facilities across the country. He has also documented over 60 violent crimes including rapes, murders, and assaults committed by residents with a criminal past. Many residents of these facilities are vulnerable either due to physical or mental disabilities. Some residents are in wheelchairs and others have severe cases of dementia, making them targets for sexual predators.
Texas is the only state that currently requires background checks on assisted living residents, but it’s surprising that more care facilities haven’t implemented resident screening as a best practice. The cost of conducting background checks on residents is minimal in comparison to the amount of money that these care facilities would have to pay out in the event of a lawsuit. By blindly or unknowingly accepting residents with a shady past, they subject other residents to an unsafe living environment. It opens their organization up to negligence lawsuits, bad press, and other costly consequences.
Landlords take note because resident screening applies to more than just assisted living facilities. Whether you run a housing community or you’re simply renting out a basement suite, a thorough background check on your prospective tenants is well worth the time and money.
Reference checks are a common way for landlords to determine whether a tenant is suitable, but a thorough criminal record check can prevent you from renting to a sex offender, drug dealer, or dangerous criminal. You can even take it one step further by performing a credit check, which will help you determine if the tenant is capable of making their monthly rent payments on time.
Although residents are not employees, they may have access to vulnerable people and your valuable assets. It’s important to review your screening policy and ensure that it applies to anyone that may cause harm to your organization and its customers.
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