The vast majority of social care staff suspected of harming vulnerable adults do not get banned from working in social care, according to research for the Department of Health.
The study, by King’s College London’s social care workforce research unit, looked at the factors leading to people being placed on the Protection of Vulnerable Adults list, which bars people from working in social care with vulnerable adults.
It concluded that guidance on making referrals to Pova and the new vetting and barring scheme, which will replace it next year, may need revision to ensure more appropriate referrals are made.
The researchers found that out of a sample of 3418 completed referrals from July 2004-November 2006 only 11% were placed on the Pova list and on average it took panels just under six months to reach a decision. They suggested that more training and information was needed for social care managers responsible for making referrals.
The study also found that men were over-represented in the numbers of referals to the list, which it said suggested a need for gender specific training.
Of the cases for referral, physical abuse was the most common complaint (33%), followed by around a quarter of referrals for financial abuse, 14% for emotional abuse and 6% of cases related to sexual abuse.
Almost four fifths (39%) of referred staff were working with people with learning disabilities, closely followed by those working with frail older people (37%) and people with mental health problems (34%).
Liz Taylor, chair of the Social Care Association, said it was ‘unsurprising’ that many of the referrals did not make the list, as social care services have been ‘getting used to the system’. She added that the establishment next year of the vetting and barring scheme for people working with children and vulnerable adults, would address some of the issues raised in the report.
She added: “I would anticipate that in the future more people being referred would end up on the confirmed list.”