Published today (THURSDAY) the Ombudsman’s Annual Review of Adult Social Care Complaints has revealed it is investigating a greater proportion of complaints than previous years – and finding fault on average in 66% of cases.
In some casework areas – including those about fees and charging for care – the Ombudsman has upheld nearly three-quarters of investigations (73%).
The Ombudsman can investigate complaints about all adult social care in England, and has had the responsibility of investigating complaints about privately funded care, since 2010. In that time, the uphold rate has increased from 43% to 66%.
Despite this, the volume of complaints the Ombudsman received from people who pay for their care is still lower than we would expect. And there is yet more the independent sector can do to highlight people’s rights to complain to the Ombudsman.
Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said:
“The challenging picture we see played out in the media on an almost weekly basis is very much reflected in the types and seriousness of the complaints we receive and the faults our investigations put right.
“Many of the issues we see appear to be driven by attempts to ration scarce resources, and we received and upheld more complaints about fees and charging this year than in previous years. While I recognise the challenging environment both commissioners and providers are operating within, any attempts to reduce costs must also properly consider the impact on the rights and dignity of people who use services, and must comply with both the letter and the spirit of the Care Act 2014.
“I am also concerned the volume of complaints from people who pay or arrange for their care privately has remained static, despite the area already being under-represented in the work we do. It is vitally important care providers let people know about their rights to bring their complaints to us.
“Despite the pressures, council and care providers’ responses to our investigations remain positive. This year, as well as the number of complaints received and the decisions we have made, we are also publishing a new set of remedy and compliance data; I’m pleased to say that in all but one of the cases we investigated the council or care provider agreed to put in place the recommendations we made.”
Kate Terroni, Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care at the Care Quality Commission said:
“It’s vital everybody involved in the provision and commissioning of social care services listens and acts when complaints or concerns are raised. We know that when people raise a concern they have a genuine desire to improve the service for themselves and others. We also know that the majority of services appreciate feedback and use it to enact positive change.
“This year we launched our “Declare Your Care” campaign to encourage people to speak up about their experiences of care. Everyone can play a part in improving standards by directly giving feedback to services, or by sharing information and experiences with us so that we can take action where we find poor care.
“We are also working alongside the CMA (Competition & Markets Authority) and Trading Standards to act on the recommendations given in the CMA’S recent Care Home Market Study. We will publish information for the public and providers that clearly sets out people’s rights as consumers, their right to raise complaints and how they should be acted upon”
This year, the Ombudsman received 3,070 complaints and enquiries about adult social care with 435 of those from people who fund their own care, and carried out 1,220 investigations.
The Ombudsman made 1,279 recommendations to remedy people’s personal injustices. These recommendations ranged from a simple apology to having charges reduced or removed, reassessments or case reviews.
The Ombudsman also has the power to make recommendations to improve services for many more than the people who made the original complaint – in the past year it made 559 of these, including recommendations to review policies and procedures, change practices and train staff