The time has
come. You are in need of home care services. Chances are good that this need
has been preceded by some sort of crisis; a hospitalization, death of a spouse
or a sudden decline in health. Likely, there are so many things to think about
and arrange. There may be a variety of service groups coming in and out of your
home to assist you in this transition; home health care, home care, hospice,
durable medical equipment, housekeeping services and an increase in friend and
family visits. The last thing on your mind may be the location and security of
your valuables and financial instruments. This is why it is essential to locate and
secure these items PRIOR to the need for these services.
companies do their best to assure that the personnel that they are sending into
your home are honest by conducting background and reference checks. Here is the
problem, background checks are great for weeding out the prior offenders,
however, no background check can detect if someone has never been caught or
predict if they are going to steal in the future. Simply put, there is no way
to guarantee that you will not be a victim of theft or financial abuse.
things that you can do, BEFORE a crisis (right now) to prepare yourself:
1. Locate all valuable items, i.e.,
jewelry, checks, credit cards, etc. Inventory what you have and identify if
you are currently missing something. This will prevent confusion after the fact
if you go look for something and it isn’t where you thought it was. Why? We once had a client who insisted that
she had left some diamond earrings in her bathroom. She accused her caregiver
of stealing them. Of course, we immediately removed the caregiver and reported the
worker to Adult Protective Services. Two
months later, we received a call from her daughter, apologizing that her mother
had found her earrings in a different spot and hadn’t recalled moving them
2. Once you do need someone caring for
you at home, secure all financial instruments and jewelry in a lock box in your
home. Put the key where only you would know where it is and give a copy of the
key to a trusted individual or in a safety deposit box.
3. Never give your PIN to anyone in your
4. Never allow anyone to go to the bank
for you to take out cash, via check, etc.
5. Report all suspicions or missing
items as soon as possible to any company coming in and out of your home. If you
are working with a home care agency make sure they are responsive to your
concerns and act quickly to resolve the issue.
6. Do not give cash or check bonuses
directly to home care workers, make sure that the agency they work for is
notified and has an opportunity to copy the bonus check and document the gift
to avoid any future misunderstandings or opportunities for financial
7. If a caregiver asks you for money
directly for ANYTHING, immediately report it to their agency. As benign as this
may seem, it is considered ‘abuse of
position’ and is covered under the law as follows:
Financial Exploitations –Financial exploitation means a situation in which a caretaker or any other
person who is in the care or custody of, or who stands in a position of trust
to, a resident, takes, secretes, or appropriates their money or property, to any
use or purposes not in the due and lawful execution of his or her trust. In the
simplest terms, the person who is acting as a caretaker unlawfully takes money
or property of the resident. This also includes a request for transfer of
property by the resident that was not carried out.
Most home care workers are good people interested in your well-being. They are also
hyper-aware that they are most likely to be blamed if something goes missing in
your home. If you follow the above guidelines, it should protect both you AND the
people working for you.
If you find that you are a victim of financial
abuse or theft, PLEASE follow through with filing a complaint with Adult
Protective Services and any charges against the person suspected of committing the
crime. It is up to you or your family to see that charges are filed. This may
be very uncomfortable and stressful but it is VITAL. Without convictions and a
subsequent record to detect on a future background check, there is nothing to
prevent that same person from moving on to another agency or to hire themselves
out privately and continue their predatory ways.
Gabriela F. Brown, CSA, Owner of Constant Companions Home Care, San Diego and S. Riverside. Website
http://www.constantcompanions.net email: firstname.lastname@example.org