Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

DBS checks – The vital safety net to protect the vulnerable

winterbourne 180x120There’s a fine balance between providing care and promoting independence when it comes to supporting those with a learning disability. It takes a unique person to take on these demanding roles and bring out the best from those who need an extra hand with everyday tasks. Whilst many find this a rewarding career path, there are those out there who don’t always have their clients’ best interests at heart. Rachel Hurley reports.

Numerous high-profile cases of abuse against the vulnerable have recently circulated across the UK, causing ripples in the healthcare profession. How do these people get let into the industry? How can we stop this from happening?

It can be frustratingly difficult to detect the signs of abuse, no matter how close you are to your family. When it comes to care workers who support those with learning difficulties, their position can often become that of an authority figure to their clients. As such, their position of power means they can easily manipulate clients and your loved ones may not feel brave enough to speak out about the suffering they face.

Unfortunately, the issue has become so bad that the Care Quality Commission has recently issued guidelines for families resorting to planting hidden cameras in the homes, in order to catch out abusive care workers who are mistreating their loved ones.

However, there are steps we can take to ensure this sort of behaviour doesn’t occur. Online DBS check provider Personnel Checks are campaigning to raise awareness of the importance of vetting those who work with the vulnerable. Whether it’s a private healthcare professional, or a family friend who offers to help out; anyone who works within the care sector should be subject to this vital process.

Why prospective employees should have one
If you’re hoping to work alongside those with a learning difficulty, we’ve no doubt you fully understand the responsibilities involved. However, as security measures increase you may be unaware of how you can find your way into the industry.

By providing evidence of a recent DBS check during your job hunt, you will bolster your chances of finding a position, as you’ll show to potential employers that you have a clean record. You’ve demonstrated straight away that you understand the level of care required when working in this field and although your employer will want to carry out their own check, you’ll help to speed up the interview process by providing your own initial check.

Why employers should always double check
When it comes to working with the vulnerable, job roles of this nature are exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. This means that regardless of how long ago a candidate committed an offence, you can request information regarding their criminal history and base your opinion on the records you receive.

Whilst your candidate may not think their caution or conviction is serious enough to halt their career, any sign that they break the law and disregard this moral obligation shows that they could be the type to reoffend or take advantage of their responsibility. Not to mention the fact that your services are at stake. If you’re a private business that supplies care services, letting your clients know that your staff are all thoroughly vetted is absolutely essential.

Always stay alert
As we’ve mentioned before, there are some people resorting to extreme measures such as hidden camera filming, to monitor the care their loved ones receive. Whilst this is often the best way of proving mistreatment, we must stress that this should be a last resort.

A DBS check gives your clients’ loved ones the peace of mind they need, but if issues arise you may need to launch an investigation. Just because a person has never offended before, it doesn’t mean they never will. Keep an eye out for signs of abuse, including the way each client interacts with the carer and how their demeanour changes when they’re in their company, and take all accusations seriously.

You must remember that although a camera is going to provide proof, it will also invade residents’ privacy. At all times we must remain respectful and carefully consider the implications of using such technology.

A prior check could be the safety net you need to ensure you never have to resort to such measures. They have come to be expected in most professions, particularly when working with the vulnerable, so why take the risk? When you’re next recruiting, make sure your staff are completely up front, after all if they don’t have something to hide, they’ll oblige.

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