Debate on the Protection of Vulnerable Adults list

    We asked:- Should the Pova list be retrospective in
    order to protect vulnerable adults adequately?

    Here are some of the comments we received:-

    “Yes, otherwise people who have resigned in order to avoid
    being sacked are able to carry on in the same profession as
    references are not always taken up.”


    “I think the POVA lists have to be retrospective. If
    people have been caught in the past for abusing vulnerable adults,
    then we have to be aware to prevent future employment, or at least
    allow employers to be more focused on the behaviour and activities
    of these individuals.

    I do feel that government needs to tackle the issues of training
    for staff and employers in recognising possible abuse. Equally, I
    am conscious that a large proportion of care workers enter the
    profession without experience or qualifications. This also needs to
    be addressed, as there are a lot of very skilled workers, who feel
    undervalued, both in terms of financially and professionally. The
    work that they do is very important and requires a great deal of
    skill, patience and communication, if it is to be done correctly
    and best serve those who need it.

    We have a recurring problem of not being able to guarantee the
    level of care being provided, we have skilled professional people
    who do the job very well and then leave due to the issues mentioned
    and move to social work, nursing etc, where they feel they will get
    these things. Unfortunately this means a high turnover of staff and
    recurring skills gaps. Making the job of care worker a recognised
    profession with adequate pay, training and recognition may help to
    bridge this gap and in turn reduce abuses.

    Another question I have is why does the government feel POVA has
    to be introduced in a slow way, call me cynical, but is this
    financial? The list should exist immediately to cover all
    professionals working with vulnerable adults.”

    Mr J Maddison
    Social Worker

    “I am the managing director and shareholder of a domiciliary
    care company that supports approximately 150 service users and
    employs approximately 220 staff across the North West of

    The Protection of Vulnerable Adults legislation already
    requires, in the event of suspected or alleged abuse that the
    Support Provider, is duty bound to contact the local authority and
    that they in turn call a Vulnerable Adults conference to discuss
    the matter further. 

    At this point the police join other multi-agency partners to
    decide how best to proceed.  Through the use of the criminal
    justice system there are various safeguards that would not be
    available to the employee through the infrastructure of employment
    law, such as the right to be cautioned, have a solicitor present,
    have the Crown Prosecution decide if there are sufficient grounds
    to progress and the right to a fair trial. 

    Therefore, I am concerned that people can be labelled and added
    to this list without such safeguards, albeit with a retrospective
    tribunal approach for the employee to challenge such inclusion.
    Similar action was taken a number of years ago, which changed the
    level of accountability of the Approved Social Worker, providing
    scope for them as opposed to their department to be held liable and
    therefore opened to being sued.  The result of such intervention is
    that you can’t get an Approved Social Worker for love nor money
    today.  Such individual’s do not earn large salaries and therefore
    are too wary of putting themselves, their homes and their families
    in the firing line so many simply did not renew this part of their
    qualification.  Can we not therefore see similar patterns in the
    past and resultant effects and attempt not to repeat them?

    As providers we are always mindful of protecting those whom are
    vulnerable and require services, but also need to be mindful of our
    ability to attract, retain and protect staff.  The training
    requirements of the minimum standards and enhanced criminal record
    checks for employees have caused a noticeable fall in the number of
    individual’s wishing to join the care sector.  The populace from
    which we historically drew staff i.e. those who have cared for
    their families has been rocked and to add further pressure to this
    could have a large impact on our sector. 

    Managers are trained in this company and are supported by
    outside consultancy to use the disciplinary procedure but are you
    confident that such a fastidious approach is adopted by all
    organisations?  If individual’s become included on lists such as
    this unjustly then word will quickly get around and potential and
    current staff will become scared and this will motivate their
    actions and may lead to further people not joining or leaving the

    Also if included on the POVA list then they are automatically
    included on the Register for Protecting Children – so what happens
    if they have children of their own for whom they are caring?  Is
    this a jump off point for social services child protection to get
    involved in their personal situation? If so I can quickly see the
    care sector having few people from whom to draw.  Abuse can be both
    passive and active and can lie in ill thought through policy
    frameworks or training, are you confident of all organisations
    ability to place responsibility at the right level rather than
    scapegoat the worker? 

    I am left feeling that changes are occurring too quickly for the
    market place to adapt. If the government wish to progress these
    ambitious targets then they will need to ensure that providers are
    appropriately resourced to pay workers at a higher rate for the
    checking, training and now the potential risks they are taking with
    their personal reputation.  We still have instability in our
    funding streams i.e. Supporting People funds and the hourly rate
    paid by local authorities for domiciliary services being too low to
    reflect the professionalising of the industry. 

    Also I am aware that a number of companies resist dismissing
    staff through fear of large tribunal payouts that they simply
    cannot afford –  I can see this situation being compounded

    Paula Woodruff
    Managing Director
    Psychology BSc (Hons)






    More from Community Care

    Comments are closed.