Elder abuse legislation moves forward, would require tougher background checks

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NASHVILLE, TN (WJHL) – Legislation that would make it even more difficult for people with troubled pasts to get jobs helping the elderly is moving forward in Tennessee.

The bill would require background checks for people who work directly with patients, including employees of home care organizations, before they’re hired. Currently, employees have a 10-day window to secure background checks after they’re hired. Sponsor Rep. Dale Carr (R-District 12) says by then, the harm is already done.

In addition, the legislation would pave the way for more cooperation among agencies to reduce and respond to elder abuse.

“It just puts all of the agencies working together until we come up with one common ground that is to protect our elderly and get rid of this elder abuse,” Rep. Carr said. “(The elderly) are really going to benefit from this.”

The background checks and cooperation are among the eight recommendations the state’s Elder Abuse Task Force presented earlier this year. Lawmakers created the task force after a 2013 Community Watchdog investigation into the state’s abuse problem.

“Sometimes they’re afraid to say anything, because that’s all the help they got, but we want them to know if they feel like they’re being abused now or feel like they’re being neglected, speak out,” Rep. Carr said. “We won’t let anybody come back on them.”Copyright WJHL 2016. All rights reserved.

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