By Alexander Lawrie
MORE than one in five of Scotland’s care services are employing staff without carrying out the proper security checks.
Employment checks such as past criminal convictions and previous employment history are being ignored by a number of care service employers.
One in four of the country’s children’s services were found to require at least one improvement to their employment procedure.
And 19 per cent of nursing homes were found to need attention to their employment process.
But the Commission admits the most worrying failure involves Disclosure Scotland checks not being done and employers not verifying their employees’ fitness to do the job.
Disclosure Scotland checks provide information on criminal convictions and investigations
The startling findings are revealed in the new Safer Recruitment for Safer Service report released by the Care Commission.
Marcia Ramsay, Acting Director of Adult’s Services Regulation, said: “Above all, our work is about improving the quality of care in Scotland and keeping people safe. It’s therefore vital that recruitment into care services is done carefully and properly.
“People who use services, their families and carers want to know that the many organisations that provide care take recruitment seriously.
“People using care services can be very vulnerable, so it’s particularly important to be thorough – check references, qualifications and do disclosure checks.
“We found that the large majority were recruiting in a safe and effective manner, but a significant minority, of just over one in five services, need to improve.”
In total, the Care Commission has forced to issue 1600 requirements for improvements to care service employment practices over the past two years.
With more than 600 of those requirements regarding employment references not being properly checked.
The report was carried out after concerns were raised about recruitment practices by both the Care Commission and the Scottish Social Services Council.
And the report’s recommendations include that all care services should have robust recruitment policies and practices and follow national guidelines.
It also suggests involving care service users in the recruitment of staff.
Ms Ramsay said: “Care providers must provide the high quality of care set out in Scotland’s National Care Standards. Their ability to do so relies on recruiting the right staff.
“This report sets a benchmark on recruitment practices which we can use when we conduct another review in the near future.
“We will continue to follow up on those services where improvement was needed and encourage everyone involved to ensure recruitment into this vital sector is done properly.
“Indeed, I’m happy to report that this report ensured a number of care services improved their practices immediately and have ensured best practice is put in place for the future.”
Carole Wilkinson, Chief Executive of the Scottish Social Services Council, said: “The SSSC Code of Practice for Employers of Social Service Workers is clear that employers must use rigorous and thorough recruitment and selection processes, making sure that only people who have the right knowledge and skills and who are suitable to provide social services are allowed to enter the workforce.
“It is reassuring that the majority of service providers are meeting safe recruitment requirements but as the report shows there is still work to be done.
“We will continue to work closely with the Care Commission to make sure employers are aware of their responsibilities.”