When his 92-year-old mother needed an in-home caregiver, Richard Laughlin relied on a recommendation from a trusted friend and hired Teresita Lee.  What he did not know was that Lee had a long criminal history including multiple thefts and a recent conviction for mistreating another elderly person to whom she was supposed to be providing care.

According to an article in The Oregonian, Laughlin said that in 2010, Lee claimed that she had to make a trip to California. What he didn’t know at the time was that she didn’t go to California – she was serving 90 days in the county jail related to her criminal mistreatment conviction. She also received three years probation with the condition that she not work for any elderly or dependent person. A condition that she was violating by caring for Laughlin’s mother.

We are waiting on copies of the 2010 case to arrive from the court in hopes of learning more about the kind of mistreatment the victim in that case suffered.

According to the article, another individual complained to police three years ago that Lee had stolen the identity of his mother, for whom Lee was a caregiver.

As the Baby Boom Generation continues to age, there will be increased demand for non-medical home caregivers. There will also be more people who are unfit for those sorts of those positions or, worse yet, who are seeking to prey on their elderly patients. Unfortunately, many people who hire individuals to come into their homes and interact with their families do not exercise due diligence in making sure that they are competent and safe. A part of that due diligence would certainly be a criminal background check. However, references from prior families with whom the individual has worked and verification of their credentials is equally important.