What should facilities do to prevent elder abuse?

New Mexico elder care facilities must ensure that the senior citizens under their care are properly looked after without instances of abuse, neglect or other factors that may lead to injury or death. Policies must be in place to prevent much of this, but enforcing these policies may be difficult. How can facilities ensure that protections for elders under their care are adequately enforced, and ensure their elder care employees behave ethically?

One way is to screen caregivers before they are hired. The New Mexico Department of Health provides an Employee Abuse Registry that contains the documented criminal histories of any caregivers previously found guilty of abuse in a home or institutional care setting. Facilities can avoid hiring anyone who may be an offender by including a check of this registry in background checks of any new employees.

This will eliminate known offenders, but does not screen out anyone who either was not caught or has not yet committed their first offense. To prevent elder abuse facility managers must make a number of ethical judgments when monitoring how employees treat senior citizens under their care, as well as using judgment to determine who is or is not safe to employ. Elder abuse is a serious issue that can lead to personal injury and wrongful death claims, but a transparent policy regarding treatment and care can avoid this.

This blog is provided for information only and is not a substitute for legal counsel.

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