Hiring Strategies to Reduce Risk in Residential Care
Residential care facility leaders can create safety policies and procedures, but team members are responsible for their own actions on a daily basis. If they choose to cut corners – or worse, if they purposefully ignore the rules – your facility may suffer. Careful hiring strategies can protect your facility and its residents.
How A Few Bad Apples Can Spoil the Bunch
How much harm can one worker do? At a residential care facility, quite a bit. A worker could:
- Act Negligently. This could result in the injury of a resident and liability for your facility. For example, a worker who leaves a tripping hazard on the floor could cause a serious fall. A worker who mixes up medications could cause a potentially deadly medical reaction.
- Cause a crash. If your workers ever give rides to residents, they need to be excellent drivers. In addition to causing property damage, a crash could result in injuries. The CDC says people aged 70 and above are more vulnerable to injuries in crashes.
- Steal medicine. Workers with substance abuse disorders may find some of the opioids and other medications residents take too tempting to ignore. If workers take medicines that residents need, the residents could suffer. Furthermore, staff members who are under the influence of powerful medications may make mistakes that harm residents.
- Abuse residents. Elder abuse, including physical, sexual, emotional, and financial abuse, is unfortunately common. Facility workers are sometimes the culprits. For example, workers could steal from residents, neglect them, or insult and demean them. According to the World Health Organization, two in three staff members say they have committed elder abuse in the last year.
How Careful Hiring Protects Facilities
You cannot watch over your workers every second of the day, but you can implement careful hiring practices to screen out workers who are likely to pose problems. Careful hiring can also help shield your facility from liability if anything goes wrong.
- Background Checks: A background check can tell you if an applicant has been convicted of financial crimes, violent crimes, or any other illegal activity that could pose a risk to your facility. The EEOC says employers can require background checks and ask about an individual’s background when making hiring and other personnel decisions, but state laws also apply. It may be permissible to consider criminal records when deciding whether to hire someone. However, employers should avoid discriminatory actions and consider whether the criminal record is relevant to the job.
- Drug Screening: According to SHRM, employers may require applicants to undergo pre-employment drug tests and can refuse to hire users of illegal drugs. However, when implementing drug screening programs, employers need to be aware of requirements under state laws and the ADA.
- Driving Record: If driving will be part of a worker’s job, checking the applicant’s driving history can help you avoid individuals who have a history of at-fault accidents, driving under the influence, or reckless driving.
- References: References can help you confirm the information an applicant provides on their resume and learn more about the applicant’s character. Previous employers may be unwilling to say much, but it is still possible to confirm that the person worked at a particular company. You may also be able to glean some information about the candidate’s performance by asking open ended questions and listening carefully.
- Questions: During the interview, you can ask candidates how they would handle different situations. Of course, candidates may tell you what they think you want to hear rather than what they would actually do, but you may still learn something from their responses.
Recent Developments in Applicant Screening
Screening job applicants is not new, but some new developments have impacted the process.
- Pre-Employment Assessment Tools – These tools can assess the skills, knowledge, aptitude, and even personality and culture fit of a candidate. New online options make it easier to administer an assessment that meets your needs.
- Marijuana Laws – As states legalize marijuana, employers are caught between conflicting state and federal laws. Rejecting a job applicant for off-duty marijuana use can be tricky, especially if the marijuana is medicinal. According to NOLO, some states prohibit employers from discriminating against people who use medical marijuana.
- Anti-Discrimination Rules – New rules can expand the list of protected classes. For example, HR Morning says Colorado is the latest state to make marital status a protected class.
Careful screening practices can help you control risk for your residential care facility. Nonetheless, you still need robust insurance coverage. Tangram provides insurance for adult residential care facilities through the Personal Care & Assisted Living Insurance Center (PCALIC). Coverages available include workers’ compensation, employment practices liability, general and professional liability and commercial property. Learn more.