Social work professionals believe the Protection of Vulnerable
Adults scheme has been poorly publicised and could be undermined by
loopholes in the system.
Nearly 60 per cent of respondents to an exclusive Community
Care survey said Pova had not been advertised well or promoted
effectively in the sector. A further 20 per cent said this had only
improved after Pova was introduced last month.
Awareness of Pova among care providers and employers is crucial to
the scheme’s success, but 17 per cent of respondents were still
unaware of its existence.
Under Pova, care providers in England and Wales are required to
check that prospective employees are not on a list of people banned
from working in a care home or as a domiciliary care worker and to
pass on to the list details of staff who have left their employment
because they were unsuitable.
Pova applies only to those in the social care sector and is
unlikely to be extended to cover NHS staff for another year,
raising fears that some abusers placed on the list could still take
jobs in the health sector.
More than one-third of respondents thought Pova would not reduce
the risk of abuse until all care settings were covered.
There were also concerns that the fast-track Pova check, called
PovaFirst, could result in abusers being appointed to jobs before
full police checks were carried out. PovaFirst enables employers to
check the list to see whether a person is recorded on it. If they
are not, they can be employed while the full Criminal Records
Bureau check goes ahead. However, 25 per cent thought PovaFirst
would undermine the scheme, while 60 per cent thought this was
PovaFirst was introduced to help employers recruit staff without
having to wait weeks for a bureau check. But 23 per cent surveyed
said it would not help recruit care home staff and domiciliary care
workers, while 23 per cent were sceptical about its ability to do
so in the future.
Gary Fitzgerald, chief executive of Action on Elder Abuse, said the
government would have done more to disseminate information on Pova
if it was a child protection scheme and he was unconvinced it would
reach all the people it needed to.