The Sun-Sentinel had a scary story about convicted felons working in Florida’s nursing homes.  The articles states that Florida seniors and disabled adults too frail to live on their own have been beaten, neglected and robbed by caregivers with criminal records. More than 3,500 people with criminal records — including rape, robbery and murder — have been hired to work at nursing homes.  Hundreds more slipped through because employers failed to check their backgrounds or kept them on the job despite their criminal past.

Florida has a patchwork of controls for checking caregivers of the elderly that seems to put more emphasis on protecting against embezzlement than safeguarding patients. Inconsistencies in state law are glaring — facility owners, administrators and people who handle money require a nationwide FBI check, but not employees caring for patients. With some exceptions, they are checked only for crimes in Florida.

Under Florida law, certain crimes disqualify someone from working with seniors or the disabled unless they obtain an exemption by showing evidence of rehabilitation. Until this year, the disqualifying offenses did not include financial crimes that can lead to abuse and exploitation. An expanded list takes effect Thursday — eight years after a committee of prosecutors and state regulators recommended adding crimes such as burglary, fraud and forgery.

Patients and their families have no way of checking employees’ criminal histories. Personnel files are confidential, as they are for any private business.  State inspectors are supposed to ensure screening requirements are met but inspect nursing homes on average only once a year and assisted living facilities every other year. Inspection data shows the system fails to weed out employees with disqualifying records and is slow to remove them once hired.

"When you’re under the gun of trying to find a place for your relative and they’re in the hospital and they’re dying, it’s the last thing on your mind as to whether it’s a safe facility," he said. "You assume with the state regulating them, that’s a given."
 

7 Thoughts on “Should convicted felons be allowed to work in nursing homes?

  1. kandace miller on December 24, 2009 at 9:55 pm said:
  2. RICHARD RIDDLE on January 26, 2010 at 7:10 pm said:

    WHO DO I CONTACT ABOUT INFO ABOUT A FELON WORKING WITH SENIORS IN A SMALL ALF IN THONOTOSASSA FL?

  3. Richard:

    Call the Florida Ombudsman’s office at:
    Bonnie Hazleton
    Director, Office of the Ombudsman and Public Services
    3900 Commonwealth Blvd, MS 49
    Tallahassee, FL 32399

    Also call the Florida Board of Nursing at:
    Florida Board of Nursing
    4042 Bald Cypress Way, Tallahassee, Florida 32399. 850.245.4125

    http://www.doh.state.fl.us/mqa/enforcement/enforce_home.htm

  4. OCTAVIA TOLLIVER on April 23, 2010 at 10:25 am said:

    Ms Miller:
    I AM A FIRST TIME CONVICTED FELON. I HAD NEVER BEEN IN TROUBLE BEFORE BUT BECAUSE I WAS AROUND THE WRONG CROWD I GOT SENTENCED TO 30 MONTHS IN A FEDREAL PRISON.
    I THINK THAT PEOPLE DESERVE A SECOND CHANCE. NOW IM NOT SAYING FEEL SORRY FOR AN INDIVIDUAL BUT IN THE SYSTEM THERE ARE LOTS OF WOMEN THAT WERE THERE BECAUSE THEY ASSOCIATED WITH THE WRONG PEOPLE.
    I KNOW THERE ARE ONE TIME FELONS AND THERE ARE REPEATED ONES BUT WHY JUDGE ONE BY THEIR BACKGROUND INSTEAD OF WHO THEY REALLY ARE. THANK YOU

  5. Octavia,
    Sorry, but no go! I have worked in social work all of my life and your background and the choices you have made (good or bad) are who you are. You allowed yourself to get involved with “the wrong crowd”. YOU MADE THAT CHOICE. Who is to say your poor judgment won’t happen again and hurt someone else. Maybe you will not make a bad choice again, but there are repercussions for those bad choices! I do not know what you did? Statistically there is a high rate of recidivism…. No, unfortunately you did not share what you did with us? 30 months in a federal prison is nothing to dismiss. Do i want you taking care of my grandmother? No. It is not about second chances. It is about learning that the choices you make now can effect you for the rest of your life. FACT. A felon is a felon. Period.

  6. angela on October 6, 2011 at 10:29 pm said:

    I’m a single mom and a convicted felon. I had my record sealed. I have not been in trouble for ten years this december. I was enrolled and going to school to become a cna then it was off to college for my lpn then rn. I was notified today that was just a dream. Even though I had it sealed by the state nursing homes can still open it. so i just spent 900.00 for no reason. I’ll never get into nusing school. oh they let me complete half the course before letting me know. I was convicted of residential burglary.Heres the laugh also a midomener charge of theft. I took a ice chest and cleaning supplies on a drunkin dare. So when i got home it hit me that i’ll never be anything because of what i did. so my kids and i will always live poverty. because of that one stupid night. and remember the state sealed it. so is a convicted felon just a convicted felon or just like you and just got caught.

  7. Angela:
    I do not believe that you would be excluded from becoming a LPN or RN because of your past conviction. It did not involve violence nor does it sound like a felony. You could probably get it expunged if it has been over 10 years. Good luck.

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