William Eichler 15 March 2019

Ombudsman publishes guide for handling social care complaints

Directors of adult social services have welcomed the publication of a good practice guide for helping adult social care providers improve their handling of complaints.

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman today published the guide, which gives real-life examples of the common problems the organisation sees and offers some ways to avoid the pitfalls.

Common problems include a lack of clear information about fees, charges and contracts, problems with billing and invoices, ensuring people’s belongings are looked after properly, and dealing with challenging behaviour from friends and relatives.

‘Since 2010 we’ve been the only independent route to redress for the thousands of people receiving care from independent providers,’ said LGO Michael King.

‘In that time, we have investigated thousands of complaints, and have upheld a high proportion of those we investigate.

‘And although we see poor practice, we also see good examples of care providers making practical changes as a result – and it is this good practice we want to encourage.

‘Care providers can learn a lot from the complaints we receive and resolve, and by working together hopefully we can improve the system for everyone.

‘We believe caring about complaints and learning from them is a sign of a mature culture and good leadership – as well as being a cost-effective way of improving, especially when resources are under pressure.’

Responding to the good practice guide for care providers, Glen Garrod, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, said: ‘ADASS members and care providers are doing everything they can to ensure that all those in their care receive the best possible service.

‘However, where people who are in receipt of care and their families believe that the quality of service has fallen below their expectations, it is important that they have the information and support available to make a complaint.

‘If they feel that their concerns will be taken seriously and acted upon, then more often services will improve in consequence.

‘Councils, local Healthwatch and the Care Quality Commission all have a contribution to make as well. There should be no wrong door for people with a concern about the social care services they receive.

‘It is essential that all involved, most notably providers are able to learn and share lessons from complaints in order to improve their services.

‘This good practice guide from the Ombudsman is a useful resource to help them achieve this.’

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