Before September 15, 2014, a loophole in Ohio’s sex offender registration and notification laws allowed for sex offenders to live in nursing homes without the knowledge of the home’s other residents. The law required the notification of anyone living within one thousand feet of the residence of a registered sex offender, as well as those who lived with a sex offender in a “multi-unit dwelling,” such as an apartment complex. However, based on the language of the prior statute, residents of nursing homes, as well as other group homes, were not required to be notified of sex offenders living among them.
The new law, O.R.C. §3721.122, sets forth screening procedures and requires nursing homes to implement safety measures when it admits a sex offender as a resident. The law states that before any individual is admitted into a nursing home, the home’s administrator must search the sex offender registry. If the individual is found to be a sex offender and is admitted as a resident to the home, the administrator must: 1) develop a plan of care to ensure that other residents are free from abuse, 2) notify all of the home’s other resident’s and their sponsors that a sex offender has been admitted as a resident, and inform them of the home’s plan of care, and 3) ensure that the individual’s address is updated in Ohio’s public sex offender registry.
Nursing home owners and administrators must understand and be prepared to fulfill the requirements of the new law, or risk revocation of their license to operate a residential living facility. For nursing home residents and their loved ones, this law serves to minimize elder abuse within nursing homes and allows them to make an informed decision when selecting a home.