Nurse's Station

Q&A: “Background checks: How do they help when hiring?”


iStockphoto | ThinkStock + Scrubs

iStockphoto | ThinkStock + Scrubs

Background checks come in many different flavors, which can cause confusion for both the person agreeing to a background check and those conducting them! We’re exploring the pros and cons behind background checks and what you’ll need to know if you’re ever the subject of one during a caregiver hiring process.



First, if you see an offer for a “free” background check, run fast. A good background check requires a few different levels of research and just like any quality product, there is a fee associated with obtaining the information. The free background check services out there tend to be associated with websites offering hire-direct caregivers, and are really just a name and address match.

A quality background check will match the person’s name to the Social Security number they provided for all past addresses and include a multi-state criminal history check in the counties of each address where they have lived. Quality background check services can immediately process the information through computer databases but will flag counties that require a personal check because the county is not computer automated. Usually 7 to 10 day turnaround is required to check the information in non-automated counties.


All background checks must follow the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which only allows information to be reviewed for the past 7 years. However, each state enforces the FCRA and has the right to pass their own consumer reporting laws which may require more disclosure of information or more rights to consumers. Some states do allow the checks to go past 7 years, for example, if the person is being considered for a position which requires interaction with children or seniors (like caregivers!). You can check the laws in your state on


A background check should only be one criteria for hiring. That’s because even with a good background check, there can be valuable information which legally cannot be included. For example, if an individual has misdemeanor charges for theft, and agrees to community service as their punishment, very often the charge is deleted from their record. Anyone who has been ticketed for a traffic violation, gone to court and had the judge strike the ticket from their record can understand immediately how our court system works. It is very common for someone who has been arrested for shoplifting or drug use to have an arrangement worked out where the charge will not stay on their record.

Questions to ask about background checks:

  1. Does the background check include checking criminal court records in multiple states in each county where the individual has lived?
  2. Does the background check include a sex offender check?
  3. Did the individual provide all of their former addresses on their application and do these addresses match those on their background check?
  4. Does the background check include a Department of Motor Vehicles driver’s license and driving record check? This is not typically included in a standard background check and is usually an add-on service for an additional fee.
  5. Did the application for employment ask if the individual has ever been convicted of a felony?

In order for background check reports to be FCRA compliant, the information must be current and updated daily and will take up to a week for counties that are not automated.

Does your hospital complete background checks? Do you think they’re a good idea? Give us your thoughts in the comments! is the nation’s online destination dedicated to connecting seniors with quality senior care choices. helps seniors and their loved ones define care needs, understand the many caregiving options and costs and connect to senior home care agencies that meet’s checklist of quality standards. is also a leading caregiving career and recruitment resource. Visit

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