Ensure Legislation to Manage Senior-Care Referral Agencies

Target: Bill Nelson, U.S. Special Committee on Aging

Goal: Demand proper background screening of caregivers to the elderly

According to new research from Northwestern Medicine, many senior care agencies nationwide are failing to conduct criminal background checks or drug testing when hiring new staff members. In fact, many agencies do not even require any previous experience or training. These are atrocious standards which can potentially lead to elder abuse. Demand that stricter legislation be set in place to carefully screen and monitor caregivers.

In July 2012, a study was published in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society. Researchers surveyed 180 agencies, finding that 55 percent performed a criminal background check and only one-third of those same agencies conducted drug tests.

Lee Lindquist, a physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, offered a story in particular where she witnessed horrendous elder abuse: the caregiver of a 103 year old patient was mistaking her own medications with the patient’s. And because the caregiver was illiterate, she was giving her medications to her patient accidentally.

Some referral agencies go as far as guiding their customers towards nursing homes that are willing to pay the highest bid for a new client, rather than establishing a nursing facility that is a best suited for the senior resident. Cases like these are extremely dangerous, putting an elderly patient at an unnecessary risk. Because current elder care agencies are largely unregulated, practically anyone could set up an agency or business, referring inexperienced or untrained staff for senior home care.

Legislation has been drafted based on an investigation by the Seattle Times which uncovered severe flaws in the state’s management of adult care homes. So far, nothing solid has been created. Urge the U.S. Special Committee on Aging to protect our seniors by creating legislation to correctly screen and supervise elderly caregivers.


Dear Mr. Nelson,

Currently, elder care agencies are largely unregulated, allowing for anyone to set up a business or agency. New research done by Northwestern Medicine concluded that many of these agencies fail to conduct criminal background checks or administer drug tests to future employees. Referring inexperienced and untrained staff, who are to administer care to seniors, is very dangerous and may potentially lead to abuse.

Some agencies are even directing their clients to nursing homes that are unsuitable for senior residents, collecting large monetary sums in exchange for a new customer. Thus far, legislation has only been drafted after an investigation conducted by the Seattle Times which revealed these heinous standards. Solid legislation needs to be set in place immediately. Therefore, I urge you to protect our elders by ensuring legislation be created to screen and monitor senior care givers within referral agencies.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: preparednesspro.com

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