DBS checks in care homes: our guide

DBS checks in care homes help organisations make safer recruitment decisions, and are instrumental in ensuring care home staff are suitable to work with vulnerable adults.

If you have questions about DBS checks in care homes, our guide should help you answer them…

Do all care home staff need DBS checks?

Applicants for roles which involve working with children or vulnerable adults will usually need to have a DBS check.

The government defines a vulnerable adult as a person aged 18 or over who:

is or may be in need of community care services by reason of mental or other disability, age or illness; and who is or may be unable to take care of him or herself, or unable to protect him or herself against significant harm or exploitation.

Care home residents usually fall under this definition, and most care home workers will come into contact with residents on a daily basis.

For this reason, all care home staff should hold a DBS certificate.

What level of check should care home staff have?

Most care home staff will be eligible for an enhanced DBS check due to the nature of their work.

An enhanced DBS check will reveal any convictions, cautions, reprimands or final warnings the applicant has, as well as any relevant information held by their local police department.

Any staff member who will be working in regulated activity will also be eligible for a check of the adults’ barred list. The adults’ barred list is a list maintained by the DBS which details individuals who have been barred from working with vulnerable adults.

‘Regulated activity’ with regard to adults means, in summary, any activity which involves assisting with, supervising or prompting any of the following:

  • Personal care, e.g. washing, going to the toilet or eating
  • Household matters, e.g. cash, paying bills or shopping
  • Conducting an adult’s own affairs
  • Conveying or transporting due to age, illness or disability
  • Social work

A more complete definition of regulated activity is available from the Department of Health.

Roles which don’t involve any of the above activities – for example, cleaners or administrators – would not be eligible for a check of the barred list.

Carrying out DBS checks in care homes helps protect residents, gives their families peace of mind and shows that the establishment is committed to safeguarding.

DBS Adult First checks

Formerly known as ‘ISA Adult First’ or ‘POVA check’, DBS Adult First is a service provided by the DBS which care homes can use to allow new staff to start work before they’ve obtained a DBS certificate.

The service allows an applicant to be checked against the adults’ barred list, and a result will be returned within 72 hours. Depending on the result, the applicant can start work under supervision while they wait for their full DBS certificate.

Adult First checks are not a substitute for DBS checks, and should only be used in exceptional circumstances when absolutely necessary – for example, if staffing levels are in danger of falling below statutory requirements.

Care homes should still employ safe recruitment procedures when making staffing decisions before a full DBS certificate has been received.

Adult First checks are not appropriate for people who will be working with children. In this case, the applicant must obtain a DBS certificate before starting work. There is no equivalent fast track check for the children’s barred list.

Employees should not start work until their DBS Adult First check has been returned.

If you’d like more information about DBS checks in care homes, get in touch with us today – we’d be glad to help.