Aging is one of those universal truths, an equalizer of gender, race, class, religion, etc. It happens to us all, though its effects vary widely. Current average life expectancy is 78.8 years, but that quantity of time is no reflection of quality. Some of us develop few health problems, while others are burdened with serious afflictions. Of those who find they can no longer manage alone, most want to stay out of nursing homes as long as possible; to continue to live independently, the solution is often a certified nurse aide/assistant (CNA).
CNAs can work in a variety of healthcare settings and have corresponding duties, but those who work in personal homes are generally the gatherers of vital information about the patient’s medical conditions and the providers of basic care such as bathing, dressing, eating, and toileting. To be certified for employment, an individual must complete an approved training program and pass an examination in order to be added to a federally mandated registry.
In Georgia, the Nurse Aide Registry is maintained in the Department of Community Health by Healthcare Facility Regulation. Every two years, a certified nurse aide needs to renew certification by completing a renewal form, updating any personal information, and proving employment as a CNA for at least eight hours during the last two years. Though most often used by employers when making hires, the registry is publicly accessible and can be easily checked to inquire on the status of a state-tested CNA.
Presently, the registry lists 73,000 active CNAs, 210,000 inactive CNAs, and 1,350 adverse findings of abuse. That’s right – the registry includes abuse charges against CNAs who work in licensed facilities. And, as of last month, HB 1037 was signed into law expanding the registry to include complaints regarding CNAs working in home settings. While allegations of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation can be reported to the police or adult protective services, many never get a full investigation. However, complaints made to the Georgia Division of Aging Services do get a complete investigation, with the results brought before a panel. If warranted, the incident and the CNA are listed on the registry. The new law broadens these protections to help those needing in-home CNA care, because background checks and referrals won’t always reveal past abuse complaints.
As noted by the executive director of the Georgia Council on Aging, “Unfortunately, individuals who have committed abuse often are not prosecuted or plea down to a lesser charge. The CNA registry is an essential resource for providers and families who hire in home care.” There is hope that the registry will eventually be expanded to cover other types of home care workers, such as those who help with preparing meals or doing light housework.
If you suspect that an older person is being abused, neglected, or exploited by a certified nursing assistant, or if you have any questions about this topic, you can find out more by discussing it with one of the Georgia elder abuse attorneys at The Mann Law Firm. We have over 50 years of experience helping people, and we can help you. Based in Macon, we believe that all patients deserve a safe place to live and the right to be free from abuse. Contact us to discuss your unique situation by calling (478) 742-3381 or by filling out our online form.