Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are some of our most vulnerable friends and family members. Even if they are suffering abuse or neglect, they may be physically unable to say anything, or they may be afraid of retaliation if they report this type of treatment. Even family members that visit their relatives frequently may miss the signs of nursing home abuse and neglect.
In an effort to protect this segment of society, the Kentucky House of Representatives has introduced and passed HB 250. This bill, if it becomes law, would require a more thorough background check on potential and current nursing home employees. Currently, name-based background checks are run only on prospective employees that would have direct contact with the residents. Under the new bill, fingerprint checks would be done on applicants to determine if they have been convicted of a serious felony and a database search would show any record of previous abuse. Even after being hired, employees would continue to be checked to make sure they had not been convicted of a serious felony after being hired.
The bill includes $4 million worth of state or federal funding that would cover the cost of the equipment and training and the background checks until 2014. After that, the long-term care facilities would be required to either cover the cost or pass the cost on to the applicant or employee. The background checks would be done at a Cabinet for Health and Family services field office, of which there are about 36 throughout Kentucky.
Some representatives objected, stating the cost would be significantly more than the checks being done now, and that the currt checks are sufficient. Others noted that the federal funding is part of the Affordable Care Act, which may be overturned by the Supreme Court, so the funding would disappear.
The bill has passed in the House of Representatives and is headed to the Senate.