If you need to make a complaint about a care home or another care provider, there are procedures in place to help you take your concerns further.
Don’t be afraid to speak up – if you don’t raise concerns, nothing can be done about it. Raising awareness of problems could help make things better for other people being cared for by the same provider.
Here are some of the issues to look out for if you have concerns about the quality of care you or your loved one is experiencing.
Not all problems with care arrangements are the fault of the care staff. Consider whether there are other factors causing a problem.
If you’ve arranged care for someone and it looks like a carer hasn’t been doing certain agreed tasks, check whether this is because your loved one has refused care. A carer can’t force someone to accept care if the person chooses to refuse it.
If your friend or relative doesn’t want certain things done for them, this should be noted in the daily report sheets by the carer. If the pattern of refusal continues, always follow this up with the agency manager. This applies to all clients, regardless of their mental or physical health.
If not all the tasks on the carer’s list of duties are completed, consider whether too much is being asked of the carer in the allotted time and whether their visits need to be a little longer.
The first step is always to speak to the care home/agency manager to give them a chance to investigate the issue, explain and put things right.
Tell them what you want them to do. Don’t be worried about raising issues. If you don’t speak up, then improvements can’t be made or problems resolved. A manager may not be aware there is an issue until you raise it. Most problems can be easily resolved at this stage; however, you may wish to agree a timeframe for a resolution.
If you need to take a complaint further, it’s important to keep accurate records you can refer back to. Remember to:
If you choose to write a letter of complaint, try to include the following information:
If you’re unhappy with the provider’s resolution of the complaint, your next step can be to complain to the public service ombudsman. Each country in the UK has its own ombudsman.
If you’re unhappy with an ombudsman’s decision, you can appeal it through a judicial review. This is a complicated process and you will need expert legal help.
For complaints about care providers, which you have been unable to resolve with your service provider directly.
monitor and regulate care providers in each UK nation. However, in England, Northern Ireland and Wales they do not investigate individual complaints. But they do welcome concerns and comments you may have about a regulated care provider, and this may help to ensure the issue is addressed and doesn’t affect others.
In Scotland, the Care Inspectorate does have the authority to investigate individual complaints about care providers. However, as in the rest of the UK, you should first try to resolve the issue directly with the provider.
If the local authority is funding care, complain to it if you’re not satisfied with the provider’s resolution of your complaint. All local authorities are required by law to have an official complaints procedure, which you should be able to find on its website.
Cases of abuse in care homes or by an agency carer at home are rare, but if you suspect anyone is being abused by their carer, or you witness an incident, it can help to know what action to take. Abuse can be psychological, financial or physical.
If you have a friend or relative in care who seems frightened, upset or unhappy, talk to them in private and get as much detail as possible. Be patient with them, as it may take them some time to give you the full story. Suggest that you report the matter to the care manager together and ask for an explanation or an investigation.
If you’re still unsatisfied, you can contact the local council (regardless of whether they fund the care). All councils have procedures in place to deal with the protection of vulnerable adults and have the authority to intervene.
If you see your friend, relative or another person being abused by a carer, challenge the abuser immediately and tell them to stop. Write down exactly what happened and speak to the care manager in private to report what you’ve seen. In serious cases, report the incident to the care regulator and/or local council immediately.
As well as the regulators and ombudsmen already mentioned on this page, here are some other organisations that might be able to help if you have a complaint or concern about a care service.
A telephone and website service providing information about care services for older people living in Scotland.
Helpline: 0800 011 3200
The national consumer champion in England for health and care. If your complaint relates to social care, it’s worth letting your local Healthwatch know about any problems so it can use this to help improve service provision in your area. It can also tell you if there are any advocacy organisations in your area who can help you progress your complaint.
Telephone: 0300 068 3000
Website for the 14 regional NHS Boards in Scotland responsible for the protection and improvement of their population’s health.
A free and independent service that helps you make a complaint about an NHS service.
Helpline: 0300 330 5454
The government organisation investigating complaints that individuals have been treated unfairly by, or received poor service from, the NHS and other public organisations in England and Wales.
Helpline: 0345 015 4033
A government organisation in Northern Ireland; includes information on helping you make a complaint.
Telephone: 0800 917 0222
A charity that campaigns for patients’ rights and offers help with complaints.
Telephone: 020 8423 8999
A charity that supports older people in residential care and their families. They provide independent advice and support, including a helpline, for older people needing care and the relatives and friends who help them.
Telephone: 020 7359 8136