Duncan Lewis

Legal Aid

Lawyers London

Care agencies employing convicted offenders for their care homes - watchdog inspection finds

Date: (15 October 2012)    |    

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Private agencies were flouting official guidelines and hiring carers with criminal backgrounds for jobs in care homes for elderly, which were being paid for by the local councils.
Care Quality Commission inspectors have come across several agencies which were employing criminals it emerged. In some cases it happened unknowingly as police checks were not carried out it is believed.
One agency in Sussex employed five criminals, including a woman who was allegedly deported from a foreign country for serious offences.
Another Birmingham-based agency hired 23 people with criminal records, including some convicted of assault and theft.
Currently there is no legal bar preventing care providers from employing someone who has been convicted but they are required to carry out Criminal Records Bureau checks on staff. A risk assessment has to be carried out on employees and show that they have been properly monitored.
Care charities have labeled it as appalling after BBC had exposed the Inside Out documentary in the West Midlands.
Despite concerns raised by the health watchdog, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), all are still operating.
The programme found that more than 500 allegations of abuse or poor practice had been made to authorities in the area in the past year.
Across England, more than 220 care agencies working in care homes have failed to show they were employing properly qualified and vetted staff in recent CQC inspections.
The actual figure could be far higher as less than two thirds of the 6,000 agencies were put to inspections by the watchdog which was set up four years ago.
Gary Fitzgerald, of the charity Action on Elder Abuse, told the Daily Telegraph that people were going to be shocked and horrified because they have an expectation in the social care system and regulation that isn’t true.
People carried a false faith that the system had a social care which in general could be guaranteed, but which it was not.
The investigation was launched after concerns raised by Birmingham electrician Peter Taylor about the care provided to his mother, Dorothy, 87, who died last year. According to the programme, his complaints about Care 4 U, an agency based in the Perry Barr area of Birmingham, triggered inspections that uncovered a series of failings.
The agency was found to have employed 23 people with convictions for crimes, including theft, assault and handling drugs.
A spokesman for the CQC said that having a criminal conviction was not in itself prevented a person from working in health or social care.