A recent report has heaped criticism over the way in which a care home in Blackburn, Lancashire has been managing its recruitment. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) arrived for an unannounced inspection of the facility in November 2020, after receiving reports from social services staff under whistleblowing procedures.


Risk Assessments and Checking

People resident in the homes and their families will be understandably concerned when it comes to concerns around staffing in the homes. The CQC found that the home concerned had carried out enhanced disclosure checks on members of staff through the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). This is a legal requirement for people working in care homes. Enhanced disclosure is the most detailed level of check, and will reveal offences, cautions and convictions which are considered spent and wouldn’t have to be disclosed in other situations.

This is where the law, and the recruitment process for employers, can be complicated. Although the law requires an employer to do an enhanced DBS check, it does not specify what should happen next. There is no law which states that in order to work in a position requiring an enhanced disclosure, the individual should have an unblemished record. Employers should however have a process of conducting formal risk assessments on anyone whose DBS check throws up a criminal past, and this is where the Blackburn care home was found to have failed.


Should Relatives Worry?

There has always been a balance to be struck between the rights of an employee to make a fresh start after being convicted of a crime, and the rights of the people they will be working with to protection. This is why the safeguarding risk assessments by employers is such an important part of the process. It would be unfair to have a blanket policy of banning anyone who had ever had a brush with the law from care work, but it is the responsibility of the employer to carefully consider any convictions which are revealed, and decide whether to recruit, or not. This was the step which had been missed out in the Blackburn case.


Applying for Jobs When You Have a Criminal Record

On the other side of this problem are people who are trying to apply for jobs, knowing that they have a criminal conviction or caution in the distant past. Over the years, the government has tried to look into ways of levelling the playing field for people who have made minor mistakes in the past and wish to make a fresh start. Filtering means that many convictions or cautions received as a youth are automatically filtered out, even on an enhanced disclosure check. More serious convictions, or ones which are more recent, may still appear on DBS certificate.

If this is the case, the employer should carry out a full risk assessment. Whether they decide to take the person on will depend on the type of work they will be doing, and the nature of the offences. The best advice is to be open, honest, and show that you have turned over a new leaf.