FAQ: What is a Vulnerable Adult?

What is a Vulnerable Adult?

As a DBS Umbrella Body, one of the most common mistakes we see in the applications we process is confusion around the question of ‘what is a Vulnerable Adult?’

What is a Vulnerable Adult: Who does the term apply to?

“Vulnerable Adult” is actually a legal term used by the DBS – that’s why we always capitalise the phrase where it appears on our website.

The following is a quote from the DBS’s own FAQ document:

“In general terms, an adult (a person aged 18 or over) is classed as vulnerable when they are receiving one of the following services:

  • Health care;
  • Relevant personal care;
  • Social care work;
  • Assistance in relation to general household matters by reason of age, illness or disability;
  • Relevant assistance in the conduct of their own affairs; or
  • Conveying (due to age, illness or disability in prescribed circumstances)”

As you can see, it’s rather a strict definition. This means it actually doesn’t apply to many groups we’d typically consider as “vulnerable”.

For example, refugees, homeless people, and victims of domestic abuse are not necessarily “Vulnerable Adults” according to the DBS, even though these groups are all what we could consider as “vulnerable”.

As a result, organisations that work with such groups often request the wrong level of DBS check based on this misconception. This is a problem because, if the Umbrella Body processing the application doesn’t detect the mistake, the applicant runs the risk of having their application delayed, or even rejected without refund by the DBS.

What is a Vulnerable Adult?

What is a Vulnerable Adult: Is that a loophole I can see?

Perhaps you took particular notice of this bullet-point within the DBS’s definition:

  • Relevant assistance in the conduct of their own affairs;

When taken literally, this point is open to a vast range of interpretations, but we won’t entertain them here. Drawing from our decades of experience dealing with the DBS, we can say with confidence that this point relates entirely to legal assistance.

So, once again, although we’d all probably say that (for example) ‘organising accommodation for the homeless’ most likely constitutes “Relevant assistance in the conduct of their own affairs” in a literal sense, this is not what the DBS actually means.

What is a Vulnerable Adult: What kind of check do I need?

There are far too many potential roles and possibilities for us to cover here in this FAQ post. Instead, we’ll link some useful resources that should be helpful in determining the correct level of check required.

DBS Checks by Aaron's Department - What is a Vulnerable Adult?

What is a Vulnerable Adult: How Aaron’s Department can help

If you’ve been searching “what is a Vulnerable Adult” because you’re looking to get some DBS checks for your staff, consider using Aaron’s Department!

With us, you’ll get the benefit of our fast-track guarantee, our automatic application checking (alongside checks by our skilled countersignatories), our decades of experience, and our low, low prices!

If you’d like more info, take a look around our site, and you are welcome to get in touch – you can call us on 0113 877 0171, or email contact@aaronsdepartment.com and our Operations Team will be happy to help.

You can use the buttons below to register your organisation for free, or book a demo (also free) – we hope to hear from you soon!

Further Reading

For more relevant information on DBS Checks, you can read one of our other informative articles, written to help answer all the questions that make DBS Checks confusing. From Understanding Spent Convictions, to Can You Get A Fast Track DBS? We usually have an article written that can help.

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