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What type of background checks should I be doing on a home carer?

When you employ a home carer to look after a vulnerable loved one, background checks are a necessity, not a luxury. You may feel that you are an excellent judge of character. You may also feel that conducting background checks on a home care worker is being over-zealous. However, when bringing someone into the home of your loved one, it is worth doing proper research to ensure their safety.

What is a background check?

Formerly known as a CRB check, the new name for a background test is a DBS check. This is because this test is carried out by the Disclosure and Barring Service. The DBS check came into action as a result of the CRB and the ISA, or Independent Safeguarding Authority, joining forces back in 2012. The DBS now offers three tiers of background checks:

1) Basic disclosure. This tier can be undertaken on anyone and is a popular choice for people requiring certification.

2) Standard disclosure. This tier is required for some professions, typically for solicitors or accountants, where a high degree of professional trust is involved.

3) Enhanced disclosure. This tier is the most detailed level of background checking. It is necessary for anyone who intends to work with the young, the old or other vulnerable people. This tier is the level of disclosure that must be applied to anyone wanting to work as a home carer.

Why is a background check needed for home care workers?

When you allow someone into your loved one’s home, you’re giving that individual access to your family’s private affairs. The caregiver may have access to personal paperwork, details of your loved one’s financial situation, access to bank accounts, savings and credit and debit cards.

A reputable carer will help with any tasks where their assistance is needed. These can include financial matters where necessary, such as assisting with banking, shopping and paying bills, but any professional caregiver will act responsibly and professionally with this information. This being said, it is necessary to carry out all checks before allowing the carer to start their employment looking after your loved one.

Colin and Dulcie’s story

Dulcie is 102-years-old and lives with her son Colin, his wife Mary, and her Carer Sarah. She has dementia and has had full-time live-in care for over two years.

We talk to the family about the challenges of finding the right care solution for a fiercely independent woman - and how the positive benefits of live-in care with Sarah has transformed all of their lives.

How do I undertake a background check?

Other than the most basic check, individuals are not allowed to request a background check on themselves. This is because there are only certain occupations or trades in which full disclosure is required. It is, therefore, always the employers who make the requests on the individual’s behalf.

As an employer of a carer, you can apply directly to the Disclosure and Barring Service, or you can opt to use an agency who will approach the service on your behalf. If going it alone, you must make it clear that you require the full disclosure service. You must explain that you will be employing a care worker to look after a vulnerable elderly person in their own home.

The service is accustomed to providing in-depth background checks on elderly care workers and will perform the necessary checks as quickly as possible. The length of time that the DBS check will take depends upon the time of year and demand for the service. That being said, most DBS checks are completed within just a few days. Approximately 85% of enhanced disclosures are completed within just five days.

What Will an Enhanced Disclosure Test Show?

Any individual working in someone’s own home needs to have a high degree of integrity. And where elderly care is involved, the need for a strong moral compass is particularly essential. Whether the caregiver is providing a few hours of companion care each week, or providing 24-hour dementia care at home, they are constantly exposed to private information about their client. This may include financial details, as well as access to a lifetime’s worth of precious treasures and mementoes.

In the unlikely event that the candidate has a criminal history, this will show up in the enhanced DBS disclosure test. After a number of years, some minor offences are considered ‘spent’. Further to this, where these are petty criminal offences, such as motoring offences, they won’t show up on an enhanced disclosure. However, any incidences of violent crime, robbery, fraud, or taking advantage of young or vulnerable people are always highlighted and will always reveal themselves to prospective employers.

Never be tempted to take risks with your elderly care options. Anyone can lie on a CV, fake references and sail through an interview without revealing their past. The ramifications of hiring the wrong person are potentially far-reaching, so don’t be tempted to skimp on any part of the hiring process.

As an employer, if you follow up references in great detail, speak to previous employers and make sure that you arrange for a complete enhanced DBS disclosure, you will be sure to hire safely. Alternatively, you can use an agency, such as Elder, who will do all of the hard work for you and ensure the safety of your loved one in their own home.

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