Column: Care homes must ensure caregiver substitutes are qualified
The recent Hawaii Background Check System Orientation by the state Department of Health’s Office of Health Care Assurance (OHCA) held at the state Capitol was very informative, educational and beneficial for the caregiving industry.
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The recent Hawaii Background Check System Orientation by the state Department of Health’s Office of Health Care Assurance (OHCA) held at the state Capitol was very informative, educational and beneficial for the caregiving industry. It also served as an eye opener for caregivers who take background checks nonchalantly. Although many caregivers expressed concern about privacy laws, with today’s modern technology, anyone can easily find the true identity of a certain individual in its entirety.
Before the orientation, some caregivers expressed concerns about the quality and experience of the substitutes being hired by caregivers. They also questioned the activities of caregivers who run multiple care homes. They asked OHCA to monitor and check closely the backgrounds and work experiences of the substitutes being hired. In case of an emergency, for instance, would these substitutes have the proper training to perform first aid and CPR?
Hawaii’s population is aging. More and more elderly people end up in either foster or care homes. Our nursing homes cannot meet the demand. However, caregivers must realize that the safety and welfare of their residents is a must — not the money they save for hiring inexperienced substitutes. If one of their residents was to be injured due to negligence, it is very likely that the family of the injured resident would sue the caregiver. Although the law requires all caregivers to carry liability insurance, sometimes the coverage is not enough.
It is good to remind all caregivers that the United States is one of the most litigious nation in the world. Lawyers normally ask for more settlement money especially if the suspected culprit has enough assets. To rid themselves of any legal and financial problem, caregivers are advised to carefully check the criminal backgrounds of their substitutes.
Meantime, many would-be caregivers complain that it takes so long for the Office of Health Assurance to process an application to operate a care home here. As stated in OHCA’s administrative rules Chapter 101, it would not take more than 60 working days to process an application. So what’s the reason for the delays? The DOH should be asking the state Legislature to allocate more money for the department to hire more personnel for OHCA. The state has a big surplus. Our state legislators should know that more licensed caregivers are needed to meet the demand of our aging population.
Further, some who are waiting for their licenses to be issued complain about why some caregivers are allowed to operate more than one care home. We hope it’s not because favoritism exists in the OHCA.
In writing this, I am aware that some caregivers might get offended. Please don’t misunderstand me: This is written so the public can know the concerns and problems of caregivers, and for the good and welfare of the caregiving industry. Lastly, we sincerely commend Keith Ridley, OHCA’s chief who served as moderator of the orientation session, and his staff, particularly Susan Anderson for informing us about the background check orientation.
Constante A. Domingo is president of the Caregivers Association of Hawaii; his wife, a nurse, is a care home operator.