03rd April 2017

Don’t let your past rule your future

Can you be a CQC Registered Manager with a spent conviction?

I went to a party at Christmas time, and a couple walked in after my husband and I. ‘I recognise her’ I said. ‘Who?’ my husband answered. ‘That girl over there’. The penny dropped on the last word. Flashback 20 years. I wasn’t sure whether to leave, stay, or pretend I was someone else. Needless to say, I had not acted as I ought to all that time ago. Not badly, but enough to embarrass me now… but would she remember?

Run for the hills

As a former CQC registration inspector, I have interviewed my fair share of managers for registration. I have seen the look on some when I ask them about their past employment gap or something on their DBS. It isn’t pleasant, and it is sometimes something they would like to run from. I worry some good people may not even have filled in the application for fear of the past.

Shocking revelations

I have interviewed everything from financial impropriety, to assault. I won’t lie, on paper these are shocking, and something that from a distance I could in my mind judge all over again.

What do the regulations say?

We can have preconceived ideas, but we must work within the law. The Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014 sets out what is required of persons employed within scope, with attention on Schedule 3 as to what information is required.

Regulation 7 for Registered Managers is what we are looking at today.

7 (1) A person (M) shall not manage the carrying on of a regulated activity as a registered manager unless M is fit to do so.

7(2) M is not fit to be a registered manager in respect of a regulated activity unless M is—

7(2)(a) of good character;

The full regulation can be found here.

Regulation 7(3) tells us that the matters considered must include those listed in Part 2 of Schedule 4 which covers convictions and being struck off. But it does not say this is an automatic ban. What would be is someone on the DBS barred list. CQC say ‘...providers must not employ in regulated activity (as defined in the new legislation) someone who they know has been barred by the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA)/Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). It is an offence to do so.’

What is good character?

I remember sitting in inspector training thinking and responding to this question. What is good character? We could have come to blows as we all had a different idea. CQCs provider guidance helps us; ‘It is not possible to outline every character trait an individual should have, but we would expect to see that the processes followed take account of honesty, trustworthiness, reliability and respectfulness.’

How long is long enough?

A good set of principals... but where are the time scales? How long do we give it until we are satisfied someone is of ‘good character’? Each case will be different.

I have this friend

I have this friend that gives up things regularly. The fact it is the same thing regularly makes me think it can’t be classified as ‘sustained’ – the same applies with good character. It needs to be sustained!

Let’s not be silly

I think we all know this, but I must say it. Not everyone who has a show on their DBS should be registered. The requirements for good character means this must be assessed with other information carefully and individuals should be scrutinised for suitability. CQC have a good scenario which is worth a look at here.

It is not just those with a record we are talking about

There can be a wrong assumption that a proven conviction is needed to refuse, but some of the most frustrating cases of character that is not good are those that are untruthful about their history, or other elements of their past. An inability to be truthful can add to a case of refusal.

The interviewee with a conviction

Heading into an interview with an applicant, I had some pretty robust information around an old conviction. Newspaper reporting on words spoken by the judge. DBS show. It was hard to stay in a mind frame of impartiality.

But guess what... The individual was frank about their past, explained the circumstances around it without passing blame. Showed a sustained period of good service and demonstrated their skills, knowledge and dedication to care.

Bowled Over

I think what bowled me over was the provider’s due diligence. They knew the situation and had placed firm boundaries and monitoring around the area the Manager could be vulnerable. They had very much fulfilled their duty from the outset through good recruitment policy, risk management and strategy which had supported this individual.

Super Cautious

I had undoubtedly been super cautious and trawled information and questioned the applicant, obtaining further references and forming my recommendation carefully. I recommended the application was granted.

The desire to be a better person

I was glad they had applied. It must have been difficult to apply for their role with the provider. I was so glad their desire to care outweighed their past. I have kept my watch from a distance as inspections have taken place, they are still there years later with a ‘Good’ report.

What about you?

So if you are out there doing a good job for people, caring and wanting to do more. If you regard yourself of good character – talk to your provider, be honest. Tell them your aspirations. Don’t let the past hold you back, make someone’s future an excellent one.

Provider Viewpoint

Good systems, practice and due diligence can help safeguard your clients from harm. The regulations ask that providers undertake a process to ensure employees and managers are ‘fit’.  Being methodical in collecting information and a sound recruitment process helps ask the questions from the outset, and if you employ someone who has not always had good character, make sure you have done your homework and record it.

I didn’t wait for the lady to recognise me. I made a decision. I told her I remembered her and where from, I went so far as to apologise. The ocean of time had wiped it from her mind… or did she just have less of a problem about it than me?

*All information is correct at the time of publishing

Abi Spence

Registration and Inspection Specialist

Abi has worked for and with Government agencies relevant to social care for the past 12+ years. Primarily with the Department of Health, Social Services Inspectorate, Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) and since its inception the Care Quality Commission (CQC). As part of this long involvement Abi has developed a wide and detailed understanding of relevant issues and has worked closely with stakeholders such as people that use services, carers, providers, local government, the Department of Health, Ofsted and the Audit Commission. Read more

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