We use cookies to allow us and selected partners to improve your experience and our advertising. By continuing to browse you consent to our use of cookies. You can understand more and change your cookies preferences here.

Financing care
Learn about funding options for home care, home adaptations and care homes, together with Attendance Allowance, gifting assets and Power of Attorney.
Housing options
Consider your options and learn about sheltered housing, retirement villages and care homes.
End of life
Guidance on the practical and emotional aspects at the end of life, from planning end of life care to arranging a funeral and coping with bereavement.

Common problems to look out for

If you suspect there are problems with your loved one’s care, use this advice to steer you through the process of making a social care complaint.
3 min read
In this article
Issues with care to watch out for Get a monthly report

Issues with care to watch out for


Below you will find a list of common problems to bear in mind if you’re concerned.

  • Carer not coming at required times: if your loved one has a carer, find out what days/times they’re supposed to visit and make random visits/calls to make sure that they are there and staying for the agreed amount of time. (Bear in mind, however, that the occasional late arrival could be due to an unexpected crisis with the carer’s previous client.)
  • Care folder: are all entries up to date with the necessary detail?
  • Food hygiene: if your loved one 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 rubbish 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 friend or relative washed and in clean clothes? Is the clothing appropriate for the time of year and comfortable to use - not too tight or too loose, for example? Is the home clean and tidy?
  • Other needs being met: have useful items been left to hand, such as a telephone, walking frame, a jug of water and a glass, a knee blanket in colder weather, TV remote control? 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, or are they overly familiar? Do they use your loved one’s property inappropriately, eg using their telephone for their private phone calls? Do they misuse their time, eg chatting on their mobile rather than focusing their attention on caring?
  • General happiness: does the person being cared for seem happy with the care they receive? Ask your loved one which carers they like/ feel comfortable with, and if there are any who they don’t like (and, if possible, the reasons they’re not keen on them).

If you think there is a cause for concern, our article on making a complaint about a care provider offers advice on how to deal with common problems.



If not all the tasks on the carer’s list of duties are completed, do consider whether too much is being asked of the carer in the allotted time and whether their visits need to be a little longer. If your elderly relative or friend doesn’t have many visitors, they may understandably be encouraging their carer to sit and chat with them, which cuts down the time available for the carer to complete their duties. If your loved one pays for a private carer, perhaps consider increasing the length of their visits.

Get a monthly report

If you live far away and can’t visit frequently, ask the agency to send you 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 check what has been happening.

Receive expert guidance on caring for older people. Our emails are free and you can stop them any time.

Further reading

What is unsatisfactory care?

Unsatisfactory care can cover a wide range of issues. We explain the standards you can expect and how to take action.

Last updated: 04 Sep 2019