Enhanced DBS; Adult Social Care, Guide 2

DBS guidance can often leave you unsure of the correct procedures, especially when carers start before the full Enhanced DBS check is returned. Read this guide to find out about Adult First Checks and what to include in your risk assessment. 

What is an Enhanced DBS Check?

  • An Enhanced DBS Check is the highest level of DBS check available. These checks are required for job roles that involve working with vulnerable groups such as vulnerable adults, children, or the elderly
  • The Enhanced DBS Check can be done in conjunction with the Adult First Check to see if the applicant appears on the Barred List, a record of people banned from working with vulnerable adults
  • An Enhanced DBS Check will disclose spent and unspent convictions such as cautions, warnings, and reprimands. It will also disclose checks against ISA-barred lists
  • Enhanced DBS Checks can only be requested by a company rather than an individual

Home Care Manager doing paperwork

How does the DBS Update Service work?

The DBS Update Service offers applicants the option to take their existing certificate to a new employer instead of having to make a new application.

This service is an online subscription that allows you to carry out a free instant online check to view the status of an existing enhanced DBS Certificate

When carrying out a check:

  • Gain consent from the applicant and check their identity matches the information on the Enhanced DBS Certificate
  • Make sure the original disclosure is the same type and level required for their new role
  • Take a note of their name, date of birth, and the DBS Certificate reference number and keep a record of it
  • Comply with the DBS Code of Practice

What is the DBS Adult First Check?

An Adult First Check is undertaken when completing the Enhanced DBS application. It checks the Vulnerable Adults Barred List to ensure the person applying is not listed. A person can be placed on this list if they have committed criminal offences or have previously been involved with vulnerable adults and are deemed to be a risk to them. 

When the check is completed and you receive notification that the person is not listed, then they can provide services for your clients as long as you follow the relevant CQC guidance. You should also undertake a risk assessment (see below for what to include). This check is normally returned within 72 hours of the application. 

Who Can Request an Adult First Check?

Adult First Checks are only available to those working in an adult/children’s care service, where an Enhanced DBS check is required by the law. Only an organisation who employs staff that work in regulated activities (see Regulated Activities below) can request this check. 

Examples of organisations that can request this check include:

  •  Care Homes
  •  Domiciliary Care Agencies
  •  Adult Placement Schemes

What is the Barred List?

Barred lists are databases containing names of people who have been banned from working with vulnerable adults or children due to their past behaviour or criminal offences. 

The DBS service is responsible for compiling, maintaining, and checking the barred list. The aim is to prevent unsuitable people from working with children or vulnerable adults. If an individual’s name appears on one of the barred lists, they are automatically disqualified from any role that involves working with either vulnerable group.

Risk Assessment for Adult First Check only applicants 

  • Record the details of the Adults First Check and the reasons for starting the applicant before the Enhanced DBS is returned. Staff can only start working without an Enhanced DBS if your client would be at risk of harm or neglect if the applicant did not start
  • Describe any previous care experience that you believe will support the assessment, i.e. 3 years of working in home care
  • Record any relevant qualifications, skills and knowledge the applicant already has for the role
  • Make a record of the references you have received and their relevance to the role applied for
  • Describe how the applicant will be supervised or supported whilst working without the Enhanced DBS
  • Contact clients or their family to monitor their satisfaction with the care provided by the applicant. Record this on the risk assessment
  • Notify clients or their families that the applicant does not have an Enhanced DBS and record this on your risk assessment

Health & social care Regulated Activities. What are they? 

Examples include:

  • Providing healthcare that is undertaken by or supervised by a healthcare professional. This includes all forms of healthcare relating to physical or mental health
  • Providing personal care including physical assistance with washing, dressing, toileting and eating due to an adult’s age, illness or disability. Supervising or training someone to do these tasks is also included
  • Provision by any social care worker which is connected with social services or health services
  • Assistance with general household matters such as dealing with an adult’s cash, bills or shopping due to their age, illness or disability but arranged via a third party
  • Supporting the conduct of an adult‘s own affairs under a formal appointment, i.e lasting power of attorney under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 
  • Drivers or assistants who drive individuals to places where they have received or will be receiving health, social or personal care, i.e. hospital porters or patient transport drivers

What is the Harm Test?

Employers in health & social care are legally required to make a DBS referral if an employee harms or poses a threat to a vulnerable adult or child. 

The government defines a Harm Test as: 

“A person satisfies the harm test if they may harm a child or vulnerable adult or put them at risk of harm. It is something a person may do to cause harm or pose a risk of harm to a child or vulnerable adult”.

More DBS Guidance, Information & Resource

If you haven’t found the answer you’re looking for then 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 guide which answers the many questions care providers ask on social media: 

DBS Checks: A Guide for Adult Social Care 


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.