DBS Eligibility: Understanding the DBS’s Vulnerable Adult Definition

Introduction – Understanding the Vulnerable Adult Definition

Correctly understanding the Vulnerable Adult definition can help you make sure that you get the correct DBS Check for your staff.

DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) checks play a crucial role in ensuring the safety and security of vulnerable individuals, and one of the key aspects of conducting effective DBS checks is correctly identifying who qualifies as a Vulnerable Adult. This article aims to provide clarity on the legal definition of a Vulnerable Adult and its importance in determining DBS check eligibility.

Understanding the Vulnerable Adult definition helps you get the correct DBS Check for staff and make sure that there are no delays to your checks if you have inadvertently selected the wrong check.

vulnerable adult definition

Defining Vulnerable Adults

In UK law, a Vulnerable Adult is an individual aged 18 or over who may be in need of community care services because of a disability, their age, or illness. This definition sets Vulnerable Adults apart from children, who have a separate legal framework for safeguarding. Vulnerable Adults are individuals who because of their circumstances, are at risk of harm, abuse, or exploitation and require protection under the law.

Legal Framework

To safeguard Vulnerable Adults, the UK has established a robust legal framework. The Mental Capacity Act 2005 is an important piece of legislation that outlines the principles and procedures for decision-making on behalf of individuals who may lack the capacity to make decisions for themselves. The Care Act 2014 complements the Mental Capacity Act by focusing on the wellbeing of Vulnerable Adults and the duty of local authorities to ensure their safety.

vulnerable adult definition

Identifying Vulnerable Adults

Identifying Vulnerable Adults involves recognising individuals who may be at risk due to various factors. These factors include physical or mental disabilities, age, cognitive impairments, or medical conditions that affect their ability to protect themselves from harm. Vulnerability can manifest in many ways, such as susceptibility to financial exploitation, physical or mental abuse, or neglect and it is important for care and support workers to be aware of these signs of abuse.

vulnerable adult definition

Vulnerable Adult Categories

In general terms, an adult (a person aged 18 or over) is classed as a Vulnerable Adult 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;

• Conveying (due to age, illness or disability in prescribed circumstances)

Who does NOT fit the Vulnerable Adult definition

The following would not be classed as ‘Vulnerable Adults’:

  • Someone receiving personal care for a reason unrelated to their age, illness or disability – i.e. someone getting their haircut because they would like their hair cutting
  • Refugees
  • A 16-18 year old in full-time education

Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults

Organisations have a critical role in safeguarding Vulnerable Adults. They are legally obligated to create safe environments and provide appropriate support and care to minimise risks to Vulnerable Adults. Safeguarding measures include risk assessments, staff training, and reporting procedures for concerns about abuse or neglect.

Vulnerable Adult DefinitionDBS Check Eligibility

DBS checks are essential for individuals working with Vulnerable Adults, as they help identify any history of criminal activity or misconduct that may pose a risk to those they are serving. Roles that require DBS checks for working with Vulnerable Adults include caregivers, healthcare professionals, social workers, and these rules also apply to volunteers in relevant settings. Understanding the Vulnerable Adult Definition can help make sure that your staff have the correct DBS Check and the people in your care are protected.

vulnerable adult definition

Enhanced DBS Checks

In most cases, Enhanced DBS checks are necessary when working with vulnerable adults. These checks provide more detailed information about an individual’s background, including any spent and unspent convictions, cautions, warnings, and reprimands. Enhanced checks are particularly important for roles involving close and unsupervised contact with Vulnerable Adults.

Barred List

Employers are required by law to check the barred list before hiring an individual for a role that involves giving personal care with Vulnerable Adults. The Barred Lists help to protect these individuals from harm by preventing those who pose a risk from being employed in such roles. For further information on the Barred List, we have an informative previous article you can access here. What Is The Barred List

Employers’ Responsibilities

Employers have a legal responsibility to ensure that DBS checks are conducted for staff working with Vulnerable Adults. They should also provide adequate training on safeguarding and promote a culture of vigilance and reporting. Employers must report any concerns about staff behaviour to the appropriate authorities.

Recognising Signs Of Abuse

Recognising signs of abuse in Vulnerable Adults requires an understanding of their distinct vulnerabilities and circumstances. Identifying potential indicators of vulnerabilities—whether physical, emotional, financial, or neglect—is pivotal for safeguarding the well-being of these individuals. Red flags may include unexplained injuries, shifts in behaviour, or sudden changes in financial situations, signalling potential abuse. It is important to remember, communication barriers and cognitive impairments can make reporting abuse challenging for Vulnerable Adults, underscoring the vital role of attentive caregivers and professionals.

vulnerable adult definition

Understanding the Vulnerable Adult Definition – Conclusion

Understanding the Vulnerable Adult definition is crucial for making sure that you get the right DBS Check for care and support workers, this can save you time and money and make sure that Vulnerable Adults are protected.

Here at Aaron’s Department, we have been doing this for a long time, and we are happy to help you with the Vulnerable Adult definition, a DBS Check for care and support workers, or any questions you may have. Get in touch on 0113 877 0171 or email us on contact@aaronsdepartment.com today.

To start your DBS Checks, you can register for free below.

About The Author

Kellie Dawson

Kellie Dawson

Kellie is our in-house legal expert when it comes to DBS checks. With a background in the legal sector, she has become a recognised authority in this area.

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