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)






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