Problems in two out of three adult social care complaints

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has found problems in nearly two out of every three adult social care complaints it has investigated in the past year.

Publishing its Annual Review of Adult Social Care Complaints, the Ombudsman revealed it is investigating a greater proportion of complaints than previous years – and finding fault on average in 66 per cent of cases. In some casework areas – including those about fees and charging for care – the Ombudsman has upheld 73 per cent of investigations.

The Ombudsman can investigate complaints about all adult social care in England, and, since 2010, has had the responsibility of investigating complaints about privately funded care. In that period, the uphold rate has increased from 43 per cent to 66 per cent.

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.

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.”

Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “Councils and the care providers they commission work hard to try and give the best possible service to those who rely on vital adult social care support, despite funding and demand pressures. This is reflected by the fact that the total number of care complaints has fallen slightly year-on-year and that responses to investigations remain positive, with the vast majority of the Ombudsman’s recommendations being put into place.

“Extra funding for social care next year will help councils as they strive to ensure older and disabled people can live the lives they want to lead. We also need the government to publish its proposals for the future of adult social care as soon as possible to find a long-term, sustainable funding solution, so that all those who use and work in social care have the support and certainty they need.”