Governor Rod Blagojevich signed legislation Wednesday making Illinois the first state to require criminal background checks for all current and incoming nursing home residents.
Supporters say the law will safeguard the elderly by identifying sex offenders and violent felons, so nursing homes can take precautions to ensure they don’t endanger other residents.
The law is effective immediately.
Officials say background checks of Illinois’ roughly 100,000 nursing home residents should be completed within 60 days.
Supporters say the law will help prevent rapes, beatings and other abuse, rather than punishing nursing homes afterward with fines and other sanctions.
Nursing home officials contend background checks are appropriate for younger patients but not frail, older residents.