A bill requiring tougher background checks for long-term care workers is on the way to the desk of Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal after unanimously passing the state senate on Thursday.

Deal is expected to sign the measure, which then would become effective Oct. 1, 2019.

The bill, a House substitute to SB 406, applies to owners, workers with direct access to residents and applicants for jobs with duties that would put them in direct contact with residents at assisted living communities, personal care homes, home health agencies and private workers, hospices, nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities and adult day care centers.

Vicki Johnson, chair of the Georgia Council on Aging, said that the council and the Coalition of Advocates for Georgia’s Elderly “identified the passage of a measure requiring tougher background checks and fingerprinting as one of its top priorities for 2018, so we were delighted that this important bill passed.”

In an 82-page annual report issued to the governor in February, the Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform said the legislation would align Georgia’s requirements with those of many surrounding states.

Currently, the council said, the state uses a name-based query system to review long-term care applicants to see whether they have been convicted of crimes in the state. Under he passed legislation, employers will be required to submit fingerprints to the FBI database in addition to searching state and national databases of criminal records and searching the nurse aide registry (as applicable), the state sexual offender registry and other registries.

Facilities will not be permitted to employ anyone against whom there is a substantiated finding of neglect, abuse or misappropriation of property or whose license is not in good standing (if applicable to the job that he or she would hold).

The new procedures, according to the bill, would apply to caregivers, housekeepers, maintenance workers, dietitians, volunteers who have duties similar to those of employees, and others with “direct access” to residents, patients or clients, their property or their financial information.