12 care home staff working without checks, report finds

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A DOZEN staff at a city care home were found working without having gone through proper background checks, it has emerged.

A Care Commission report on St Raphael's Care Home in the Grange found that the 12 were working within the premises before mandatory clearance from Disclosure Scotland had arrived.

It has led to concerns that there could be many more workers at similar facilities working with frail and vulnerable people who have not had sufficient background checks.

The city's health and social care leader, Cllr Paul Edie, will next week put a motion to the council to investigate the unrelated case of Joseph Sinja – who was jailed for six years after sexually assaulting a pensioner – to ensure as many checks are carried out on individuals as possible.

Sinja, 32, had been taken on at a council-run care home despite having "absolutely no qualifications" and little training.

No such serious incidents have been reported at St Raphael's, which is run by Viewpoint Housing Association, but Cllr Edie said:

"I don't think it's acceptable to jump the gun and have people working before the checks are done."

St Raphael's has already been in hot water with the Care Commission in the last year. Inspectors issued a rare improvement notice on the home amid claims of staff shortages, neglect and residents only being allowed to use the toilets at certain times.

And while follow-up inspection in January found that these problems had been addressed, the recruitment issue came to light while reviewing staff details.

In two other cases, a Rehabilitation of Offenders form had not been completed, leading to the discovery that one worker had a past conviction.

The inspection also found that six references hadn't been completed, while two foreign staff didn't have the correct work permits for that area of work.

The Care Commission has since revisited the premises to carry out a following report which has yet to be rubber stamped, and it is understood issues surrounding recruitment have been addressed.

Marcia Ramsay, the Care Commission's director of adult services regulation, said: "Our work is about improving the quality of care in Scotland and keeping people safe.

People using care services can be very vulnerable, so it's vital that care providers thoroughly check references, qualifications and the appropriate disclosure checks."

Jane Brown, Viewpoint's assistant chief executive, said: "We have been making sure these issues have been taken care of and we are going forward."

Your Say: Do the rules need tightened up?

Alan Sinclair, 41, events manager, Lochend: "It sounds like all the necessary rules are in place, it's just some aren't following them like they should. The tightening up should come in disciplining places that don't follow them."

Steven Fraser, 26, gardener, Drylaw: "There is a lot of fear and alarm about this kind of thing, but a Disclosure Scotland form doesn't always stop bad things happening. There still could be ways round it, but how often do you hear of something going wrong in care homes? Hardly ever."

Kate Findlay, 22, student, Bruntsfield: "These are the most vulnerable people in society and we have to do absolutely everything possible to keep them safe. Workers in care homes have to do extremely intimate things and residents have to trust them."