Complaints About Adult Social Care Services

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You can complain about any aspect of adult social care whether it’s provided by a private care home, a charity run home, one run by a local authority or paid for through a local authority, or a charity. All will have their own complaints procedures which you will need to find out about and use.

Types of adult social care complaints:

  • Inadequate assessment and care planning;
  • Poor communication;
  • Inadequate involvement of families;
  • Delays in assessing and reviewing;
  • Insufficient provision of information to help families make choices;
  • Failure to provide services;
  • Communication breakdowns between the Local Authority and care providers;
  • Medical assistance not being sought in a timely manner.

Ideally you should make your complaint as soon as possible after the concerns are apparent but if there is a delay, you should make a complaint within 12 months of when you first knew about the problem.

Who can make a complaint about a care home?

Anyone who is receiving or has received services from a care home can complain about the care they receive. You can also complain if you are someone, for example a relative, affected by the action or decision of the home you want to complain about.

You can complain on behalf of someone else if they can’t make the complaint themselves because they aren’t physically or mentally capable, or they have asked you to act on their behalf, meaning that you have their consent. When complaining on behalf of someone else who has given consent always say so. It might be a good idea to get the consent written down and signed so there can be no dispute. Otherwise, whether or not consent has been given might be raised as a distraction or to stall the process.

How to make a complaint

Try discussing it if it’s minor

If the issue is minor one and a ‘one off’, start with a discussion and see if you can resolve it that way.

Make any serious complaint in writing

In all other instances you should make your complaint in writing and back it up with your evidence. Don’t rely on discussions. They can always be misunderstood or misrepresented.

Start making records as soon as you feel that something is going wrong. Record each event as soon as possible. Trying to remember important events days afterwards is always difficult and different events can easily become confused.

How can ONRECORD help?

ONRECORD provides an ideal way of gathering and saving your evidence and allows you easily to share your records with an adviser if necessary. By using ONRECORD you’ll have a detailed account of each event with all the supporting evidence organised by date and time in a chronological report. Make sure staff names are included when you make records so the individuals responsible can be identified. Rate events for their impact. When you come to complain much of the job will already have been done. You can download the chronological report and attach it to your letter or email making the task easy.

What you should include with your evidence

  • Make sure you’re clear that you’re making a complaint and send it to the complaints manager of the organisation. Their website should have the details of who to write to but if not phone up and ask.
  • You should say what outcome you would like, for example, an explanation, a review of a decision or an apology.
  • It may be useful to explain the overall impact a decision is having on you. For example, if social services are reviewing your case and reducing your services, explain the difficulties this is causing you, including the practical, the emotional and financial impact and whether it is having an effect on your health.
  • Provide all the relevant documents. For example, if you’ve been paying for services that the Local Authority should be providing, upload the receipts to show what you’ve spent.
  • If you’re complaining about a member of staff from a private company or voluntary organisation providing care services on behalf of a local authority, also send a copy of your complaint to the local authority.

Complaints about more than one organisation

If you’re wanting to complain about several aspects of your care, it may be that they are provided by more than one organisation. For example, you may be unhappy about the number of hours community care you’ve been assessed as needing but also dissatisfied with the care provided by a particular agency worker who supports you. You can send just one letter to the Local Authority and they should co-ordinate the responses.

If the complaint concerns more than one Local Authority, you can send it to either one of the local authorities to coordinate the responses for you.

The same applies for complaints about the NHS. If your complaint is about a local authority and an NHS body, you could just write one letter. Whoever gets the letter should liaise with the other organisation to produce a co-ordinated response.

What happens next?

The organisation should acknowledge receipt of your complaint and offer to discuss it with you. They should tell you how the complaint will be handled, how long it is likely to take to look into and when you should get a response.

If you don’t accept the offer of a discussion, the organisation should still let you know in writing how long the investigation is likely to take and when you should get your response.

Making a complaint about serious issues like these can be bewildering, difficult and distressing.