There are five key reasons why people complain about social care to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman. These are:
- Clear, upfront information about fees, charges and contracts: For people to be able to make fully informed decisions about care, they must be given accessible, clear and honest information. This should be provided upfront – before a contract is agreed – so prospective care users know what to expect.
- Billing and invoices: Invoices for care services should be accurate, timely, and properly reflect the services provided.
- Protecting belongings: Providers should have robust systems in place to safeguard care users’ valuable items. Typically, they should keep an updated inventory of residents’ valuables and offer a secure place, such as a safe, or a lockable drawer. If belongings go missing, we expect providers to investigate matters properly to try to find out what happened. This could include interviewing care staff.
- Giving notice: Contracts should be clear about when the parties can give notice and how long the notice period is. A care provider can give notice if it cannot meet a care user’s needs. The contract should have a term that deals with this. If a care provider gives notice because it can no longer care for a person safely, the care records should show how a person’s needs have changed, such that the setting is no longer suitable for them.
- Care planning: A key part of good quality care is an up-to-date assessment and care plan, setting out a person’s needs and preferences. Care plans should be reviewed regularly.
Further information on the reasons why care home complaints are upheld is included in a new good practice guide for care providers.
This also covers good practice in complaint handling. The Ombudsman says that since 2010-11, there has been a steady increase in the number of care provider complaints and enquiries received of which almost seven in ten are upheld. This compares to the 62 per cent upheld rate across all adult social care services including councils.