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A key tool in the government's commitment to crack down on those who ...
A key tool in the government's commitment to crack down on those who

abuse vulnerable adults in their care starts today.

The Protection of Vulnerable Adults (POVA) scheme effectively bans

people who have abused a vulnerable adult in their care from ever

working in a care position again. The scheme places a statutory duty

on care providers to check whether a potential employee is on the

POVA list before allowing them to work in a care position.

Health minister Stephen Ladyman said:

'Together with existing CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) Disclosures,

references and other good pre-employment practices, the POVA scheme

will mean that those intent on harming vulnerable adults will find it

extremely difficult to find jobs in care homes and domiciliary care


'There is no point in tackling abuse by professionals however,

without tackling the causes of abuse such as poor standards of care

and poorly trained and supported staff. This is why we have worked

hard to drive up standards of care through the National Minimum

Standards and the National Service Framework for Older People. We

will continue this work in conjunction with the relevant professional

bodies to better equip and support the social care workforce.'

In response to concerns voiced by providers around maintaining

staffing levels, the new scheme will also include a POVAFirst check.

This check, to be used only in exceptional circumstances where

service users may be put at risk because of recruitment problems,

provides a 'fast' check against the POVA list. If no match is found,

the employee will be allowed to start work pending receipt of a full

CRB Disclosure and POVA check and as long as other supervisory

measures are in place. These include making a named individual, on

duty at the same time as the new member of staff, personally

responsible for his or her supervision; and mandatory induction

training (previously recommended as good practice). If the result of

the POVAFirst check proves inconclusive, the employer will be advised

to wait for the full Disclosure before proceeding.

Hilary Scott, chair of Action on Elder Abuse (AEA) said:

'AEA welcomes the introduction of the POVA list and to have had the

opportunity to work with the Department of Health and other

organisations on the development and implementation of this important

policy. However, there is, as always, more to do if vulnerable people

are to be protected in all social and health care settings. We look

forward to continuing work with the Department and all those

determined to ensure vulnerable adults have the right protection.'

Frank Ursell, chief executive at the Registered Nursing Home

Association (RNHA) said:

'The RNHA welcomes the implementation of the POVA scheme as being an

essential additional safeguard for nursing home owners to help them

to prevent anybody who poses a risk to our patients being employed in

our homes.'

POVA will complement much of the good work that is already happening

in the field following on from the government's 'No Secrets'

framework published in 2000. This includes:

Halton BC social services has developed a Basic Awareness

Training Video for agencies to use with front line staff to raise

awareness of the various types of abuse. They have also participated

in a project led by Liverpool University to establish the prevalence

of reported incidents of abuse, outcomes of subsequent investigations

and the satisfaction of service users.

Sheffield City Council social services has developed a traffic light monitoring

procedure and risk assessment tool that triggers a process of close

monitoring and intervention when independent services are failing.

Bradford District adult protection committee runs a 'No Secrets'

training course every week which, since August 2003, has trained more

than 600 front line workers using a multi-agency pool of 25 trainers.

Derby and Derbyshire adult protection committee launched a campaign

to let vulnerable adults in the area know where to turn if they were

being abused, harmed or exploited. Cue cards explaining the type of

person who may be a vulnerable adult and detailing correct procedures

to follow were also handed out to all staff from agencies involved

with vulnerable adults in the course of their jobs.


1. The POVA scheme applies to care homes and domiciliary care

agencies in England and Wales.

2. Guidance and a FAQ document can be found on the Department of

Health website - - by typing 'vulnerable adults' into

the search engine.

3. The provisions of the POVA list are set out in Part VII of the

Care Standards Act 2000. The scheme will be implemented in the NHS as

soon as possible.

4. The POVAFirst check is an optional CRB service. On receipt of an

email request and a correctly completed Disclosure application form

from the Registered Body, the CRB will make a check against the POVA

list and notify the Registered Body within two to three days of the

result. They will check whether the POVA list contains details of a

person with the same name and date of birth as the person being

considered for the care position. The CRB will only process a

POVAFirst check if they have accepted a completed Disclosure

application form.

5. The actual POVA list will be maintained on behalf of the

Department of Health by the Department for Education and Skills

(DfES) working to a Service Level Agreement. This arrangement will

capitalise on the experience of DfES in operating the equivalent list

for children, the Protection of Children Act (POCA) list. A person

who is referred for possible inclusion on the POVA list may also be

considered for inclusion on the POCA list, and vice versa.

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