Complaints to Ombudsman about adult social care up 18% in single year

The Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) received 2,803 complaints and enquiries about adult social care in 2014/15, up 18% on the previous year, it has been revealed.

The Ombudsman’s Annual Review of Adult Social Care Complaints 2014/15 also said that in those complaints where it had carried out a detailed investigation, the LGO had upheld 55% of cases by finding some form of fault with the council or care provider.

The areas most complained about within adult social care are: assessment and care planning; residential care; home care; charging and safeguarding.

The Ombudsman also noted that it “continues to see a year-on-year increase in the number of complaints it receives about independent care providers, where there has been no involvement from a council, however this remains around 10% of its entire adult social care caseload”.

Local Government Ombudsman, Dr Jane Martin, said: “We are releasing our statistics to encourage those providing and arranging social care to think about their own complaints procedures and ensure they are as accessible and accountable as they can be.

“An increase in complaints locally may indicate a public more willing to come forward with concerns and a sector more inclined to listen. But, as the final stage of the process, the enquiries we receive indicate a local complaint procedure not working as it should and missed opportunities to have put things right first time around.

“As the health and social care sectors become more integrated, complaints systems must maintain clear lines of accountability so that the patient or care user understands where to turn to if they wish to raise concerns.”

Ray James, President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), said: “The Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) report is a helpful commentary on the state of social care and illustrates a number of areas where improvements must be made in order to meet individual need and improved outcomes. In this context councils are striving to ensure high quality social care services and the reported increase in numbers of complaints suggests that more individuals are confident in that they can raise concerns in order that these can be resolved or improved.

“Over 1.3m people each year are recipients of adult social care services and the level of satisfaction with these services has remained high. However there is no room for complacency and ADASS welcomes the opportunity to work with the LGO, partners, staff, and importantly, the individual, to seek improvements wherever they can be made.”

As the social care ombudsman, the LGO investigates unresolved complaints about all adult care services – including care that is privately funded as well as publicly arranged.

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