What Happened to Duty of Care to the Vulnerable?

It is high time for the government and HR managers to take a much harder line on recruitment in health and social care. There is a sizeable minority of care workers who should never be allowed near vulnerable people, as highlighted by recent high profile cases of shoddy care at nursing homes and abused children. And while they are not suited to care for the vulnerable, they would not show up in a Disclosure and Barring Services (DBS) check. The problem stems from a risk-averse recruitment culture, in which reference checks are not properly carried out, allowing unsuitable individuals to enter the sector. DBS checks are effectively serving as a comfort blanket for those with responsibility at policy level to ensure the protection of the vulnerable since they are no longer advising independent reference checking. An increasing number of HR professionals in care provider organisations now don’t give reference information at all, favouring the risk-averse approach of many commercial organisations in giving dates of employment and job title only. Some organisations who get only these standard references back will appoint regardless, ignoring the risk. Those HR practitioners who won’t give full reference information are, therefore, potentially denying their organisations’ best performers the right to further their careers. Recruiters should make sure to exercise rigour when choosing career workers. Failure to act will lead to more tragedies for the most vulnerable people in society.

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