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Should Criminal Background Checks Be Required At All Nursing Homes?

Picture-112Today, the Village of North Aurora, IL will consider mandatory fingerprinting for criminal background checks for all residents of the North Aurora Care Center as well as other changes at the facility.  Originally constructed in 1971 for the ‘care of old age”, today the facility provides both daily living assistance and medical care for 103 patients.  In 2006, almost half of the facilities residents had a primary diagnosis of mental illness and 60% of the residents were younger than 60.

In addition to conducting criminal background searches of residents, the proposal under consideration would also have the facility install alarmed doors to alert staff if a resident is leaving without permission, mandatory sign-out for all residents, mandatory staff chaperoning of residents and a fenced-in yard for the facility.

The proposals came primarily in response to community complaints regarding the residents behavior and that it is located next to an elementary school.  Officials at the school claimed that residents solicited money from people in the neighborhood, swore at students and staff while they were on the playground, urinating on school property and wandered on school grounds.

Although the facility may exclude people who have been convicted of violent crimes, the Federal Fair Housing Act prohibits panning people with mental illness from living in the facility.  Medicare statistics estimate the number of mentally ill people living in nursing homes has risen 50% since 2002.  On a national level, residents with mental illness account for 9% of the nursing home population.

I predict we will be seeing more of these types of safety parameters installed at nursing homes throughout the country.  And why not?  Removing a group of known offenders from an extremely vulnerable group just makes common sense.


N. Aurora nursing home patients under scrutiny, Daily Herald, June18, 2009

For more information on nursing homes in Chicago look here. For laws related to Illinois nursing homes, look here.

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