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If you suspect there are problems with your relative’s care, use this advice to steer you through the potentially difficult process of finding out more.

You may have concerns about your relative's care whether they are in a care home or have a carer. Below you will find a list of common problems to bear in mind if you are concerned.

Help us improve care

Have you had experience of a care home behaving in an unfair, unclear or misleading way? Have you had reason to complain about a care home and been discouraged, unable to complain or experienced problems as a result of complaining? Which? wants to hear about it.

We are helping the Competition and Markets Authority with its investigation into adult residential care to uncover any underlying consumer problems with the care home market. If you want to help, visit our campaign page.

  • Carer not coming at required times: if your relative has a carer, find out what days/times they are supposed to visit and make random visits/calls to make sure that they are there.
  • Food hygiene: if your relative is receiving care at home that includes meals, has the kitchen been left clean and tidy? If food has been left for later consumption, has it been covered, dated and stored correctly? Have the waste bins been emptied?
  • Medication: have the day’s medications been given appropriately, left out to be taken later, or not given at all?
  • Quality of personal care: is your relative washed and in clean clothes? Is the clothing appropriate for the time of year and comfortable for your relative to use - not too tight or too loose, for example? Is the home clean and tidy?
  • Other needs being met: has your relative been left with all items to hand, such as a telephone, walking frame, a jug of water and a glass, a knee blanket in colder weather? Is the emergency alarm to hand, if they have one?
  • Toileting: has the commode or urine bottle been emptied and cleaned thoroughly?
  • Medical hygiene: is there evidence that the carer has used protective gloves/aprons for control of infection measures? Have needles been disposed of properly?
  • Appropriate behaviour of staff: does the carer(s) maintain an appropriate professional distance from your relative, or are they overly familiar with them? Do they use your relative’s property inappropriately, e.g. using their telephone for their private phone calls?
  • General happiness: does your relative seem happy with the care they receive? Ask your relative which carers they like/ feel comfortable with, and if there are any that they don’t like.

If you think there is a cause for concern, Making a social care complaint offers advice on how to deal with common problems.

Get a monthly report

If you live a long way away, ask the agency for a monthly report on how things are going. When you visit, read daily report sheets, medication charts and financial transaction sheets in the care folder, which are completed by carers, to see if they have been filled in correctly and to see what has been happening.

More information

Page last reviewed: 29 February 2016
Next review due: 31 October 2017