Back in December 2021, care homes in Teesside were back in the news for all the wrong reasons when a home in Nunthorpe, near Middlesbrough was rated as inadequate after an inspection by the Care Quality Commission. The full report revealed that the main concerns were around shoddy recruitment practices within the home, which put patients and other staff members at risk.
One of the main revelations from the report from the CQC was that seven members of staff had been allowed to start work in the home before their DBS checks had been received. Staff working in care homes qualify for the most detailed level of check, as they are responsible for providing care to vulnerable adults, who may be elderly or disabled. An enhanced DBS check is not a voluntary extra; it is a legal requirement for a staff member to be disclosed, and the lack of certificates for these members of staff is the main reason why the CQC were so critical of management practices.
Care home staff are allowed to start work without DBS checks in limited circumstances but would have to be supervised at all times by a member of staff who did have a disclosure check. For this reason, most care homes will ask staff to wait until they receive their certificate in the post before starting work.
Although there was no indication that any of the members of the staff found to have started work without their enhanced DBS check had a criminal record, managers have a legal duty to check. Enhanced disclosure checks look at not only recent convictions, but also more distant convictions, cautions and reprimands which might be on someone’s file. In addition to the issues with DBS checks, the CQC also found that the home had not investigated gaps in CVs of the applicants or followed up references in enough detail. Gaps in CVs can worry employers, who may suspect the applicant has something to hide or has even been in prison.
The other main issue which caused a failed inspection was concerns over fire safety which had been raised following a routine inspection by the Cleveland Fire Brigade.
After the inspection the CQC dropped the rating of the care home to “inadequate”, giving a clear indication that serious improvements need to be made. Homes in special measures are given clear guidance on the steps which need to be taken to bring the standards up and are inspected frequently to assess progress. Bosses at the home stated that by the time the report came out, they had already started making the required improvements.
CQC ratings are widely used by clients who are looking for residential care either for themselves, or for an elderly relative. The four ratings offered by the CQC are outstanding, good, requires improvement or inadequate. All care homes and similar establishments want to be outstanding or good, as they know this will help reassure existing residents, and attract new residents too.