More than 1,600 registered sex offenders are currently living amongst the elderly in nursing homes throughout the country according to a nursing home watchdog group. Wes Bledsoe, a nursing home safety advocate, tracked the number of sex offenders living amongst the general nursing home population by matching addresses from the sex offender registry with the Medicare database. The total number of felons living in nursing homes is even higher as many criminal convictions are not publicly available.
Currently there are no federal or state laws to keep violent offenders out of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. Many of the violent offenders could be easily identified by nursing home administrators prior to their admission. Conducting a criminal background check, similar to those used for nursing home employees, would alert the facilities to those individuals who have criminal histories.
A criminal background check should be conducted universally for all nursing home residents–not just the young or able bodied. Nursing home residents are entitled to live in a safe place–free from abuse and violence. The relative cost of conducting these checks is more than justified when it comes to enhancing the safety of our elderly population. Read more about the criminals living amongst our elderly here.