Having the right direct care staff in a medical facility that provides care to elders is one of the best ways to prevent nursing home neglect and abuse. Unfortunately, the care provider industry often attracts the wrong type of personnel, resulting in neglect or even abuse.
Like other states, West Virginia does have a program in place to prevent the hiring of unqualified individuals in a long-term care facility. The intent of the program is to protect patients from abuse, neglect and even financial exploitation. The program requires employers in nursing homes and other long-term care organizations to conduct background checks on potential employees who will have direct access to patients.
The background check is a two-step program. First, employers must conduct a registry check. This will reveal any negative information about the applicant's prior work history in the long-term care industry. Nursing homes are not permitted to hire a direct access employee without performing a registry check.
The second phase of the program requires a fingerprint-based criminal background check to determine if the applicant has a criminal history. A long-term care facility cannot hire a direct access employee without requesting this check. However, the applicant may be hired on a provisional basis while the criminal check is pending. These employees must always be supervised by a staff member who has already cleared both phases of the background check process.
While the background check program does help reduce nursing home neglect and abuse, it is not a foolproof system. West Virginia residents with a family member in long-term care should do their own due diligence to ensure their loved one remains safe from harm. If abuse or neglect is suspected, working through the legal system is one way to find a remedy.
Source: West Virginia Department of Health and Human Services, "WV CARES Program," accessed Oct. 25, 2016