Nursing home residents shouldn't be put at risk from sex offenders. It doesn't matter whether a former sex offender is an employee of the nursing home or a resident; the presence of such a person raises the risk of nursing home assault.
That's why there's a new state law in Massachusetts is intended to keep dangerous sex offenders from living in nursing homes. In a recent case, however, the Supreme Judicial Court found that the state Constitution did not allow this law to be used to force a 65-year-old man from a nursing home.
The problem, said the court, was that Boston police did not give the man an opportunity to show that he could live in the nursing home safely. Instead, they just informed him that he needed to leave.
The court's decision was limited to the attempted ban on Level 3 sex offenders living in nursing homes. It did not address a potential conflict between the state law and municipal ordinances barring sex offenders from living within designated distances from schools.
As a result of the court's ruling, nursing home administrators will now have more discretion on whether to admit a given sex offender as a resident. Those administrators need to use that discretion wisely, so that other nursing home residents are not put at undue risk.
The same need for wise use of discretion applies to hiring decisions for nursing home staff. Administrators should conduct appropriate background checks and exercise due diligence in screening employees so that residents can stay safe.
Source: "SJC limits nursing home ban on sex offenders," Boston.com, 8-6-11