DBS Checks: A Guide for Adult Social Care

Enhanced DBS Checks: Adult Social Care, Guide 1

DBS guidance can be complex, and getting it wrong can have serious consequences. Many care providers post queries about the subject on social media, so we’ve put together this guide to help answer them. 

Can’t find the answer you’re looking for? Ask us a question in Care Begins at Home and we’ll use it to improve this guide. DBS Checks, Care Providers Questions

“A new applicant is on stage 4 and I have seen their previous DBS which is dated within the last 12 months. Can you do a risk assessment and get them started before the new DBS comes back?”

Complete a DBS Adults First Check which includes a check of the Adults Barred List while the enhanced criminal record check is in progress. If the result of this check is clear, then the applicant can start working as long as:

  • Your clients would be put at risk if the applicant didn’t start work
  • An appropriately qualified and experienced member of staff is appointed to supervise them 
  • A supervisor is on duty at the same time as them or available to be consulted
  • The applicant does not escort clients//residents away from your premises
  • You can demonstrate reasons for not waiting for the full DBS check. This can be done using a risk assessment. Our DBS Risk Assessment Guide gives details on what to include.

We recommend these additional checks for Homecare providers:

  • Contact your clients or their family at weekly intervals to monitor their satisfaction with the care provided by the applicant
  • Inform the client, or their family, that a DBS certificate has not yet been received

“Can we use DBS certificates from previous employers with a risk assessment or should we undertake our own checks on the Update Service?”

You can accept a DBS from a previous employer if the applicant has signed up for the DBS Update Service. Otherwise, it’s advisable to apply for a new Enhanced DBS.

Apply for and wait for the results of the Adults First Check. This will provide information about whether the person is on the barred list. You can start the carer once the Adults First Check is back as long as you can meet the criteria above.

“How often do we have to re-check DBS on existing/long-term staff members?”

There are no set time periods within CQC guidance for re-applying for DBS checks for existing staff. CQC expects you to have robust monitoring systems in place to ensure staff are fit to practise. Many providers apply for new DBS checks every three years for existing employees but you should also consider a new check in the following circumstances:

  • You receive information about an employee relating to a criminal activity
  • You receive complaints about an employee
  • Clients ban them from visiting or refuse care from them
  • They are involved in safeguarding concerns
  • You, or others, have general concerns about their care practice or conduct at work 

“I’ve got a candidate that I interviewed for a manager role for a CQC home recently. I’ve asked to see a copy of his DBS and he has a minor conviction recorded in 2013. Will this hinder his acceptability as a registered manager”?

It may be that CQC refuse registration due to a conviction, but they will consider each case individually taking into account:

  • Whether the offence or other information indicates a risk to your clients
  • The type of service and the circumstances of people using your service
  • Decisions will be made based on risk assessments of people using your service
  • Where there is significant doubt, the decision must always favour the people using your service

“I have an applicant who was great at the interview and has care experience. She has a drink driving offence - it was a while ago and there are no other convictions, can I still hire her?”

CQC will expect you to ensure the applicant is fit to work with your clients. You should:

  • Undertaking employment reference checks as well as an Enhanced DBS check
  • Discuss the offence with the applicant and keep a record of the discussion
  • Undertake a DBS risk assessment detailing the offence, the date it occurred and her description of the events. Record the reasons why you feel she is still suitable for the role and does not pose a risk to your clients 

“What is the best DBS company to use?

Based on feedback from Care Provider Facebook Groups these companies were recommended:

  • Homecare Associations relationship with the Disclosure and Barring Service allows them to securely transfer applications electronically through their e-Bulk System providing a fast turnaround on applications.
  • uCheck offers aonlineDBS Checks. It’s simple to use and provides rapid results. Many checks are instant and DBS Checks are completed typically within 48 hours with the fastest time recorded as 13 minutes.
  • Checks Direct provides a fast-track DBS application process. They make every check count and provide peace of mind boasting a 98% customer satisfaction rate.
  • Care Check is a leading umbrella body for the Disclosure and Barring Service and has been named one of the top 8 providers for criminal record checks in the UK. They provided over 180,000 DBS checks annually.

 “I’ve been waiting for weeks for the DBS to be returned, how can I speed up the process”?

This is a common frustration which can often be avoided:

  • Always apply for the Enhanced DBS and Adults First Check as soon as possible after confirming the applicant’s employment. If the applicant has moved several times then this can often delay the DBS

  • The process often gets held up when the application is with the police. Find out which police station is local to where the applicant lives, or has lived, then contact the police station directly and ask them who is responsible for the DBS process. Speak to them directly and explain how waiting for the application is delaying the person’s employment


“How long does the DBS Check take if you employ a foreign worker?”

DBS applications do not necessarily take longer for a foreign worker. It depends on several factors including how many addresses the person has lived at. The same process should be used when recruiting staff from abroad as within the UK however: 

  • The DBS system cannot access criminal records from abroad unless there are sharing arrangements with that country. An Adults First check and an Enhanced DBS should still be applied for in case the person has a record in the UK
  • If you wish to check their overseas criminal records, then contact the DBS Service or visit the government’s DBS Guidance web pages.

“How do you store the DBS certificates and what evidence will CQC require?”

CQC will not expect to see hard copies of a single certificate but will want to see the records you keep. You should keep the top third of the DBS certificate which can be retained for 12 months or until inspectors have seen them. Keeping this part of the certificate is evidence that a certificate has been obtained. You will need to see the person’s certificate and keep the relevant details as listed below:

  • Date of issue 
  • Full name and date of birth of the applicant 
  • The type of check requested
  • Whether the children's and/or adults barred list was checked and the outcome
  • The position for which the check was requested
  • The unique reference number of the check
  • The details of the employment decision taken
  • Any additional information related to DBS Checks, i.e. if, following a DBS risk assessment, a decision is taken not to apply for a DBS check, then the reason why should also be recorded.

“I’m waiting for DBS returns for new carers and I’m worried they will leave if they are unable to start soon. Can I get them working in other roles such as admin?”

You could consider offering admin roles to staff who are waiting for their DBS but it’s advisable to restrict their access to confidential client and staff information. Contact the police station relevant to where the applicant lives to find out if they are processing the DBS. Explain the time you have waited for the DBS and the impact of the delay. Consider what other training you could provide while they’re waiting to get started, e.g. Skills For Care core and mandatory training. 

 “Do hairdressers need to have a DBS when visiting Care Homes?”

Only people undertaking a role falling within the definition of a regulated activity are subject to the barring regime. A standard DBS check could be made for a person who doesn’t carry out a regulated activity but does have contact with vulnerable adults. 

“Can missed shifts be reported to DBS under neglect?”

When a carer misses a shift or walks out just before the shift starts, it can be very frustrating and your clients are often left in a vulnerable position. However, the onus is on you to have solid contingency plans in place to deal with staffing issues of this nature. 

The power to refer can be used when an organisation thinks a person has either:

  • harmed or poses a risk of harm to a child or vulnerable adult
  • has satisfied the harm test
  • has received a caution or conviction for a relevant offence
  • the person your referring is, has, or will be, working in a regulated activity
  • the DBS may consider it appropriate for the person to be added to a barred list

“What are my responsibilities with regard to DBS and using agency staff?”

You must obtain and keep written confirmation from an employment agency that staff, supplied to you, have had a satisfactory DBS check at the right level for their role.

You are ultimately responsible for the safety and wellbeing of people in your care. You must make sure that you have robust and effective arrangements for recruiting staff and you meet the necessary legal requirements.

More DBS Guidance, Information & Resources

If you haven’t found the answer you’re looking for, ask us a question in our Facebook Group Care Begins at Home where you will find more useful links, resources and guidance on social care.

DBS Checks - Further Guidance

Read our next DBS guide which includes even more useful information: 

  • DBS Update Service 
  • DBS Adults First Check
  • Risk assessment
  • Enhanced DBS
  • Employment reference checks
  • Regulated Activities 
  • Barred List
  • Harm Test 

 DBS Information & Resources


CQC – Disclosure and Barring Service Guide

The guide explains who needs to consider having a DBS check when registering with CQC and working in a health or social care service.

Disclosure and Barring Service (Gov.UK)

The Disclosure and Barring Service helps employers make safer recruitment decisions. You will find their latest updates and featured articles.

DBS Services

DBS Services is the registered body with the Disclosure and Barring Service (previously called the Criminal Records Bureau), who are approved by the Disclosure and Barring Service to process DBS Checks for eligible applicants.