Everything you need to know about DBS Checks in the Care Sector

Chris Williams, the founder of Tiggo Care, a homecare agency in London, discusses the different types of DBS checks available for those working in the adult care sector.

An image of Chris Williams staring into the camera

Christopher Williams,
Managing Director, Tiggo Care


This guest blog post is written by Chris Williams, the founder of a  multi-award-winning home care agency based in SW London called Tiggo Care. In this post, Chris gives an overview of the different types of DBS checks you can order and which checks you should order for people working in the care sector. He will also explain why carers need a DBS check and briefly highlight the benefits of registering with the DBS Update Service.

What is a DBS check?

A DBS Check, which stands for a Disclosure and Barring Service check, is a background check to help employers and other organisations determine if an individual is suitable for certain job roles, specifically those roles that involve working with children or vulnerable adults. The checks show the applicant’s criminal records and the type of check you order determines the level of information provided.

Basic DBS Checks

The Basic DBS Check is the most simple type of criminal record check. It provides information about unspent convictions. This type of check is used for roles that do not involve directly working with vulnerable adults, such as administrative positions, but it is not suitable for making recruitment decisions about a care assistant.

Standard DBS Checks

This check provides more detailed information about both spent and unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands, or warnings held on the Police National Computer that aren’t subject to filtering. These checks do not examine the Children’s Barred list or the Adult’s Barred list. A Standard DBS Check is required for roles with more responsibility and contact with vulnerable people, such as teachers and healthcare professionals.

Enhanced DBS Checks

An Enhanced DBS Check is the most comprehensive type of criminal record. It includes all of the information in a Standard DBS Check, plus any additional information the local police consider relevant. It can also include checking the Adult’s Barred list, the Children’s Barred list or both lists if the applicant will work with both adults and children. This type of check is best suited for those roles where the person will have significant access to vulnerable individuals, such as those working in schools, healthcare settings, or care homes.

CQC Countersigned Enhanced DBS Checks

A CQC Countersigned Enhanced DBS Check is a special type of enhanced DBS disclosure that’s countersigned by the Care Quality Commission. This type of DBS Check is needed for the following people if it’s their first time registering for one

  • Registered managers
  • Anyone registering as an individual provider
  • All partners in a partnership

You obtain a CQC countersigned DBS certificate via a CQC website. You will need to complete an online form to start the process and then you will be asked to visit a post office so they can check your identity using a photographic ID, such as a passport or driving licence. The Post Office will automatically submit your details to the CQC and you will have to wait up to 60 working days before receiving your CQC countersigned DBS certificate in the post.

However, it’s important to note that if you’re a Registered Manager and moving roles with a CQC Countersigned Enhanced DBS Check, you don’t need to reapply for this check through CQC; you can apply through Checks Direct.

Volunteer DBS Checks

A Volunteer DBS Check can take the form of a Standard DBS Check or an Enhanced DBS Check. Volunteer checks are processed in the same way as for a paid position, but the DBS check is free for volunteers. A DBS umbrella body will still need to charge a processing fee for the application. A Volunteer DBS Check application can be made if the applicant meets the following criteria:

  • The applicant does not benefit financially from the position
  • The applicant does not receive any payment, except for travel and other approved out-of-pocket expenses
  • The applicant must not be on a work placement
  • The applicant must not be in a trainee position or undertaking a course of study that will lead to full-time employment
  • The applicant cannot be a paid foster carer or a member of a foster care household
Why do carers need a DBS check?

Any healthcare professional who provides personal care to an adult or child is legally required under the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 to have an enhanced DBS Check. Carers working in care homes and carers working for domiciliary care agencies all provide personal care support to vulnerable individuals and so are legally required to complete an Enhanced DBS Check, whether they are providing the service as a paid professional or as a volunteer.

Self-employed care assistants also require an enhanced DBS check to legally provide personal care and family members employing a private carer should ask to see the carer’s enhanced DBS certificate before engaging them. If you’re using an introductory agency they will usually check the carer’s enhanced DBS certificate before making the introduction.

Should carers register with the DBS Update Service?

Whenever we pay for a care assistant’s DBS check, we strongly encourage the care assistant to register the certificate with the DBS Update Service. This service costs the care assistant £13.00 per year and it is free for volunteers. However, you must register with the service within 28 days of receiving your DBS certificate. It’s not possible to register old DBS certificates.

Once registered, the DBS Update Service keeps the DBS certificate up to date and allows employers to check a DBS instantly for free online. This is attractive to new employers because the employer doesn’t have to pay for a new certificate or wait for a new certificate to arrive before allocating the care assistant work. Therefore, many employers have a preference for carers registered with the DBS Update Service. It’s also very useful for self-employed care assistants because it can be difficult to organise an Enhanced DBS Check without an employer to check your identification documents.

Although the DBS Update Service is free for employers to check a DBS, some businesses may not have the time or resource to check individuals’ DBS Checks continuously. If this is the case, employers may wish to speak to a registered body of the DBS Update Service, such as Checks Direct, which can keep a company’s records up-to-date and perform an annual check on behalf of the employer, meeting their legal obligations. Businesses can contact Checks Direct through the online form, by email or by phone.


In conclusion, there are four types of DBS checks. Most people working in the care sector will require an Enhanced DBS Check before they can start work, but those in administrative roles might only require a Basic DBS Check. There are a few specific roles that require a CQC Countersigned Enhanced DBS Check, such as the Registered Manager role. DBS checks are a legal requirement for all care workers, including self-employed care assistants. Registering with the DBS Update Service will allow you to reuse old DBS certificates with future employers and costs only £13.00 per year.

Want to find out more or speak to someone at Checks Direct? Contact us today.