Safeguarding in care homes: The facts
Care homes have a duty to keep their residents safe. With a recent CQC report revealing that one in four adult social care services in the UK is in need of improvement in terms of safety, safeguarding in care homes has never been more important.
Safeguarding in care homes: safe recruitment
One of the most crucial aspects of safeguarding in care homes is ensuring staff members are suitable to work with vulnerable adults.
The following guide explains the various different types of pre-employment check available to care establishments, and the requirements they should follow.
CQC requirements for care homes
The CQC regulates adult social care services to make sure they meet fundamental standards of safety and quality, and sets out regulations to ensure care providers never fall below these standards.
These regulations include:
- Safe care and treatment: those receiving care must not be given unsafe care or treatment or be put at risk of harm that could be avoided
- Fit and proper persons employed: services must only employ people who can provide care and treatment appropriate to their role. They must have strong recruitment procedures in place and carry out relevant checks on applicants
DBS checks for care homes
DBS checks help to prevent people who pose a threat to those using care services from entering the workforce.
All health and social care providers registered with CQC are responsible for checking their staff, and should carry out DBS checks on all staff or volunteers who are eligible.
The eligibility and appropriate level of check will depend on the person’s role and responsibilities. Most care home staff will be eligible for an enhanced DBS check due to the fact that they will be in regular contact with vulnerable adults.
CQC provides more detailed guidance on when and how to apply for DBS checks.
When to check against the adult’s barred list
Any employees or volunteers who engage in regulated activity will also be eligible for a check of the adult’s barred list.
The adult’s barred list is a list maintained by the DBS which details those who have been banned from working with vulnerable adults. It’s an offence to employ a person to work in regulated activity with adults if they have been barred from doing so.
In summary, a person will be engaging in regulated activity with adults if they:
- Are a regulated healthcare professional providing healthcare to an adult, or directing or supervising the provision of healthcare to an adult
- Provide personal care for adults involving hands-on physical assistance with washing and dressing, eating, drinking or toileting; prompt or supervise an adult with any of these tasks because of their age, illness or disability; or teach someone to do any of these tasks
- Are a social care worker providing social work to an adult, which is required in connection with any health services or social services
- Assist an adult with their cash, bills or shopping because of their age, illness or disability, arranged via a third party
- Assist in the conduct of an adult’s own affairs under a formal appointment
- Convey adults for reasons of age, illness or disability to, from or between places where they receive healthcare, personal care or social work, arranged via a third party
For a more detailed definition of regulated activity with adults, see the government’s guidance.
DBS Adult First checks
If care homes need a new member of staff to start work urgently, they can apply for an Adult First check.
Formerly known as ISA or POVA checks, Adult First is a service provided by the DBS which enables those working in regulated activity with adults to start work before their DBS certificate has arrived.
This service should only be used if those receiving care would be put at risk if the employee didn’t start in their role, and care providers must be able to demonstrate sound reasons for using it.
An Adult First check allows the applicant to be checked against the adult’s barred list while their DBS check is being processed. The results are usually returned within 72 hours.
Depending on the result, the applicant can start work under supervision until their DBS certificate arrives.
Safeguarding in care homes: a summary
Robust, safe recruitment practices are one of the most important elements of safeguarding in care homes, and DBS checks form a key part of that.