William Eichler 10 November 2016

Ombudsman reports ‘dramatic’ increase in home care complaints

There has been a 25% rise in complaints about the home care received by some of the most vulnerable people in England over the past year, Ombudsman reports.

The Local Government Ombudsman’s (LGO) Review of Adult Social Care Complaints 2015/16 has revealed a dramatic increase in the number of complaints regarding the quality of home care.

Those who contacted the LGO complained about a number of issues, including care workers being late for or missing appointments, not staying long enough and not doing what they should.

The Ombudsman upheld 65% of the reports that it investigated in detail - 7% higher than for adult social care complaints in total.

‘Our complaints show that for people receiving care in their homes, it’s often the little things that mean so much to them in maintaining their dignity, independence and a good quality of life. Consistency of care is vital to those who rely on these services.’ said the LGO, Dr Jane Martin.

‘We recognise the sector's work signposting people to us may have had an impact on the number of complaints we received. However, we are still upholding nearly two thirds of home care complaints. This is too many.’

Dr Martin also warned there may be ‘further people suffering in silence at home’ because those receiving home care have less access to advocacy than those in residential care.

Responding to the Ombudsman’s report, Cllr Izzi Seccombe, chairman of the Local Government Association’s (LGA) community wellbeing board, warned home care may only get worse due to funding pressures.

‘We are concerned that despite care workers’ best efforts, complaints could become more frequent as the combined pressures of insufficient funding, growing demand and extra costs mean that councils will have less money for essential social care services, such as help with washing, dressing, or getting out and about.’

According to LGA estimates, adult social care is facing a potential funding gap of £2.6bn, including £1.3bn by the end of the decade. There is also a £1.3bn gap that reflects the difference between what providers say they need and what councils are able to afford.

‘It is vital for our elderly and disabled population that the Government uses the Autumn Statement to provide the funding for adult social care that councils need to ensure we have a care system fit for the 21st century,’ Cllr Seccombe added.

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