We wrote in a previous blog about a Department of Health and Human Services report that 92% of nursing homes employ one or more people who have been convicted of at least one crime; Five percent of all all nursing homes employees have had at least one criminal conviction, and about half of nursing homes employ five or more people with at least one conviction. (To read the earlier blog, click here: Criminals Found Working at Nursing Homes)
There are many reasons why this might be allowed to happen, but most people who are trying to change this practice agree that there is one overriding factor: Money. Actually, make that money and more money. Nursing home operators get a double benefit from hiring ex-cons.
Benefit #1: First, and most obviously, criminals are inexpensive to hire. Most businesses don’t want to hire them because they don’t want to hire people who have already been found to fail society by being thieves, violent offenders, etc. Statistics show that nursing home administrators don’t seem to care: Ex-cons are cheap labor, so administrators hire them, putting them in charge of some of our most vulnerable citizens: our mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers.
Benefit #2: The second benefit involves tax credits. The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) give incentives to businesses for hiring people who fall within certain target groups. Most of the groups make sense, such as veterans with a service-connected disability, people referred for vocational rehabilitation, people receiving food stamps, and people who live in impoverished urban or rural areas. Another group that provides tax credits is ex-felons.
Felon. That’s a person who has been convicted of a felony, the most serious of crimes. More than 90% of nursing home operators receive up to $6,000.00 in tax credit per employee, putting felons in charge of taking care of elderly residents. If the ex-con quits or is fired, another ex-con can be hired, resulting in another tax credit for the year for the same position. Chain-wide, these credits can amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.
We have written two blogs recently about blatant cases of elder abuse caught on video by “Granny cams,” wireless cameras hidden in the residents’ rooms. (Click links to read these blogs: Granny Cam Captures Images of Abuse and Nursing Home Abuse Caught on Hidden Camera) We don’t know whether the perpetrators of the abuse were felons, but in both these cases, families had brought suspected abuse the the attention of the nursing home administrators, but nothing was done.
Competent nursing home employees have also been known to complain about the quality of staffing, about the lack of responsiveness, the constant need to supervise caregivers, and obvious neglect. The administrators don’t often pay attention to those complaints, either.
The government WOTC program is about giving a second chance to marginalized citizens. That’s an honorable goal. But do we really want felons taking care of our loved ones? And, worse, it is atrocious that nursing homes seem to abuse the system for the sake of a few dollars, and put their residents at risk.
If you believe your loved one has been harmed by a nursing home employee, we are available to talk with you 24/7 (1-800-4LAW-MED). For more information about nursing home abuse and neglect, feel free to visit our website at https://www.hensonfuerst.com/. If you have questions, we have answers.