Home 5 News and Press 5 Unsettling precedent in care of the elderly may make its way across the nation

Unsettling precedent in care of the elderly may make its way across the nation

How do you feel about a sexual offender taking care of an elderly family member? Most people would have trouble with this concept.

If you think that convicted rapists and those who have served time for assault with a deadly weapon would never be allowed to perform in-home caretaker duties, think again. This is reality in California, and may make its way across the nation. There are approximately 210 caregivers and applicants to be in-home aides eligible to work in California, despite the violence in their pasts.

How does something like this happen? It came about thanks to a court ruling earlier in the year that said only specific types of child or elder abuse or fraud would disqualify someone from being a caregiver in California’s Home Supportive Services – a program designed to offer an alternative to nursing homes for low-income residents. That ruling meant that felons convicted of some very violent crimes have been allowed to provide care. As a New Hampshire personal injury lawyer, I handle nursing home abuse cases and I would hate to see this kind of thing happen here.

This glitch has not gone over very well with program administrators or law enforcement, which strongly urges that the rules be changed. To date, the legislature has done precisely zip in response to those calls for change. Oddly enough, or perhaps predictably, there are two schools of thought on felons working in-home care. The first is that it’s fine to do that, because their background shouldn’t necessarily disqualify them from taking care of the elderly. Frankly, the very idea of a convicted rapist taking care of someone’s grandfather or grandmother is downright scary.

The second line of thought is that there is no way that those with a violent criminal past should be allowed to care for the elderly, in any way, shape or form. To say that this is a contentious area would be a major understatement. Is there something to be said for the theory that once convicted does not a future criminal make? Perhaps so, and the majority of those with records may only be one time offenders. But then again, they may not, and can you really bet on that?

For those who suggest this is an area that isn’t black and white and instead should be regarded as having various shades of gray, perhaps the best question to ask them is if they would be comfortable with a violent ex-criminal taking care of a loved elderly relative. The answer would no doubt be quite telling. This isn’t to say that it isn’t possible for convicts to turn their lives around, but really, take a look at the recidivism rate and make up your own mind.

Charlie Donahue is a New Hampshire personal injury lawyer located in Keene. Donahue handles injury cases in New Hampshire and across the United States. To learn more about New Hampshire injury attorney, Charlie Donahue, visit

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