The benefits of moving to an online DBS application system


Leah Espley – Group Head of Quality and Compliance

‘I am the Group head of Quality and Compliance for a large recruitment firm specialising in Education, Social Care, Domiciliary Care and Pharmacy.

When I started in my role 8 years ago, the organisation had been using paper DBS applications and, on a daily basis, we would have DBS applications returned with errors due to handwriting or missing information. This had become the norm, but meant that our recruitment process was perilously slow. We had heard from our candidates about how they had completed DBS applications online with rival companies and the process was so much easier, so a decision was made to trial an e-bulk system for priority candidates. The first application we processed was back within 72 hours and we were absolutely amazed. The value to our business was clear, so we set out to create our own online system with the DBS.

Since the system went live in 2015, the impact on our recruitment process has been incredible. It has cut the average DBS processing time from 2-3 weeks down to around 5 days, with between 30-40% returning within 24 hours. As a result, it has expedited the waiting time our candidates were experiencing, allowing them to start work sooner. The automation of this online system has freed up much needed administration time on our admin team, meaning we can now look at streamlining other processes within our business. 

“Domiciliary care workers play massive part in our communities. By using an online system we have found that enhanced checks have been far easier to obtain, allowing us to make safe recruitment decisions, fast” – Rebecca Ford, Domiciliary Care Manager

As a business recruiting within a variety of sectors, we have to adhere to different external requirements, such as CQC inspections, Estyn and Ofsted Audits and CSSIW regulations. Our online system provides us with a digital snapshot of the completed DBS certificate, that our candidates agree to when completing the application. The snapshots are then automatically added on to our candidate’s file whilst the DBS certificate issue date and renewal date on their file are updated concurrently.

This automated feature is key to ensuring inspections and audits run smoothly. It allows our admin team to know when DBS certificates are nearing their ‘expiry date’ so a new application can start being processed ahead of time; making sure candidates aren’t left with an expired DBS certificate. Our fast processing times, owing to our online system, makes this process seamless, and stops candidates working without a valid DBS certificate.

“Thank you! Our recruitment process is now more efficient and robust than ever. The enhanced DBS checks and Adult First POVA checks have been very easy to obtain” – Sarah Blackmore, Head of Social Care Recruitment

Creating our own E-Bulk system gave us the capability to include the features that would benefit not only our company but also our candidates best. Through our online system, we can process Standard DBS applications, Enhanced DBS applications, Enhanced DBS applications with the Adult First POVA checks, Volunteer DBS applications and List 99 checks. We are also in the process of introducing Basic DBS applications to the system, to expand the services we can offer.

Whilst building our online system, we included the option to track DBS applications, to provide a more consistent experience for our users. This cut down admin time even further, by including a direct link to the unique tracking information for the chosen application. Having our own E-Bulk system also gives us the opportunity to continuously improve the system. Recently, we’ve updated the section on applicant nationality after receiving feedback from our users. This update has made the process even quicker and simpler for our users; averting the possibility of errors.

In conclusion, creating our own E-Bulk system has benefited not only our company in general, but specifically our colleagues and candidates. It has allowed us to have full control over the service we provide our candidates and has given us the freedom to expand and develop the business.’

You can visit New Directions Holdings on Stand D1140 at Dementia, Care & Nursing Home Expo. To find out more about their services call 02920 602356 or visit their website at