Over 200 home care providers in the UK have been found to be using staff without vetting them properly, according to the BBC’s “Inside Out” programme.

Firms are failing to carry out necessary background checks before employing individuals as care workers, neglecting to make sure that personnel were not barred by relevant professional bodies and omitting criminal checks.

The Care Quality Commission, which regulates home care within England, regards the workers as improperly qualified, a Freedom of Information request revealed. However, care minister Norman Lamb stated this did not demonstrate that “the whole system” of around 6000 operators had failed.

Standards

The 2008 Health and Social Care Act lays out standards for homecare providers. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) gives care operators guidance on these standards and how to comply with them.

The CQC requires that home care workers are subjected to effective vetting procedures during the recruitment process and that home care providers institute appropriate selection procedures. Companies must also ensure that their staff are registered with the appropriate professional regulators and that staff who may no longer be fit to work are referred.

Risk

The commission told BBC investigators that its inspectors had uncovered 217 home care providers employing staff without ensuring that they were adequately qualified and vetted. Individuals with criminal records who had not been risk-assessed were also found to be engaged in home care work.

The CQC instructs care providers that workers who may pose an additional risk to those in their care – such as those with a criminal conviction – should be risk-assessed to make sure that they are not a threat. The age and relevance of a criminal conviction should be considered, along with the roles that a person is likely to undertake and the needs of service users.

“Disturbing”

The care minister said that the findings were “deeply disturbing” and affirmed the need for care providers to be held to account. However, he stated that the failings of individual care home providers did not indicate a system-wide failure.

Birmingham and Solihull coroner Aiden Cotter called for the introduction of independent monitoring boards to protect service users.