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Pennsylvania Creating Uniform Background Check Process for Those Working with Older Adults

Right now, Pennsylvania doesn’t have a uniform background check process for people who work with older adults — but that could be changing.

Pennsylvania’s Department of Aging is looking to update the Older Adults Protective Services Act. This law was enacted originally in 1987 to protect older people who are most vulnerable.

WKBN’s recent article entitled “PA working to decrease elder abuse by updating background check process” reports that Carolyn Green, a spokesperson with the Pennsylvania Department of Aging, said when the law was originally drafted it had a section that regulated criminal background checks for employees. However, that part of the law can no longer be enforced.

“The commonwealth court determined that the employment ban provisions in the Older Adults Protective Services Act was unconstitutional, so we are not able to enforce that portion of the act,” she said.

“Right now, facilities are interpreting it the best they can, so updating this act would allow for more uniformity and a clear understanding of what crimes should prohibit people from working with older adults.”

These criminal background checks assist senior care facilities in eliminating the applications of those persons who might commit elder abuse.

Elder abuse is on the rise.

The Pennsylvania Department of Aging says that cases of suspected elder abuse increased 80% over the previous five years.

Most of that, they say, goes unreported.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Aging’s 2019-2020 annual report, women make up about 64% of victims. Their primary abusers? It’s usually a female caregiver.

“We see a lot of scams happening to older adults but, unfortunately, we do see family members taking advantage or caretakers taking advantage of older adults. Background checks could help eliminate staff that could currently be working with but have committed crimes the facility isn’t aware of,” Green said.

Changes are in the works, Green says.

Reference: WKBN (Feb. 12, 2021) “PA working to decrease elder abuse by updating background check process”

 

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