Behind the headlines

Has the spotlight on child protection put the protection of
vulnerable adults in the shade? That was the opinion of some
commentators last week when new domiciliary care standards were
published minus any requirement for criminal record checks of home
care staff delivering personal care.

Instead staff would be “required to provide a statement that
they have no criminal convictions or to provide a statement of any
criminal convictions that they do have.” The Department of Health
said it would seek to introduce criminal record checks at the
earliest possible opportunity. In the meantime, home care staff
will have to be checked against the sex offenders’ register, the
General Social Care Council register and, where appropriate, the
Protection of Children Act list.

The 27 standards take effect next month, covering five areas
including personal care, protection and staff. Agencies must have
procedures for responding to suspicion of abuse or neglect, and any
allegations or incidents of abuse will need to be followed up
promptly anddetails recorded.   

Bob Hudson, principal research fellow, Nuffield
Institute for Health, University of Leeds
“The standards have been a long time in coming, so
publication is to be welcomed. The decision to vet those working
with children but not those working with older people is surely age
discriminatory – a glaring contravention of standard one of the
National Service Framework for Older People. And, as we have seen
with the standards on residential care, there may be many a slip
between cup and lip when it comes to implementation.”

Julia Ross, executive director for health and social care,
London Borough of Barking and Dagenham
“The thought that we will have to wait even longer for
police checks in any area makes me shudder. Domiciliary care is a
personal, intimate service largely conducted in private. There is
no doubt that our vulnerable service users are entitled to proper
protection and that this must be achieved as a matter of urgency. I
would like to see a commitment to a final deadline in three months,
otherwise drift will set in and we’ll have a disaster.”

Karen Squillino, senior practitioner, Barnardo’s
“The primary commitment of the standards should be to
ensure that the staff who are employed by care homes are safe to be
employed in the first place. This means having a full Criminal
Records Bureau check prior to taking up post. Placing emphasis on
training and qualifications will help to ensure vulnerable people
are cared for and protected, but it makes a mockery of this
provision if staff are not vetted fully in the first place.”

Martin Green, chief executive, Counsel and Care for the
The delayed domiciliary care standards are yet another
example of the low priority this government places on the care and
support of vulnerable older people. Leaving the police checks to
the honesty of the individual care workers will mean many older
people are placed at risk. Combined with the watering down of the
residential care standards it is a shameful betrayal of some of the
most vulnerable people in our society.

Felicity Collier, chief executive, Baaf Adoption and
“Good intentions alone will not protect anyone from abuse
and abuse destroys lives. The need for this compromise on the
standards is deeply regrettable. The government should be ashamed
at its failure to deliver an effective criminal record checking
service and meet its own timescale for the implementation of robust
protection for some of our most vulnerable citizens. I do not
believe such problems could not have been anticipated; a review is
required of the whole tendering process and the findings should be
made public.”

More from Community Care

Comments are closed.