Ombudsman highlights the power of complaints

A new Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman report says complaints play a key role in approving social care services.

Councils and care providers implemented more than 1,300 recommendations to put things right for people in 2016/17, according to The Ombudsman’s Review of Adult Social Care Complaints.

Recommendations included almost 180 procedural changes and a commitment to train staff on almost 50 occasions.

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Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said: “I want to highlight the power that one person speaking up can have in changing services for the better for everyone.

“Our recommendations not only put things right for individuals, but aim to help councils and care providers avoid the same problems affecting others. Where we think a fault was caused by a procedural or policy issue, we recommend ways to review and change those practices.”

The Ombudsman’s role also involves making recommendations to improve services by changing policies and procedures, training staff or recommending a service be provided.

On one occasion a complaint about the way a council charged for care led to refunds for 60 people.

In another example, 70 families had their care reviewed after a couple complained about a council’s reduction of its level of care.

The report also welcomes an increase in complaints about independent care providers.

Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive of Care England, said: “In a sector being squeezed in all directions, it is heartening to see providers being praised for making the role of the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman better known and take a lead in learning from complaints, particularly in addressing self-funder complaints.

“It is right and proper that the sector works with the Ombudsman to create a more robust system where there is more confidence in care providers.”

Andrea Sutcliffe, CQC’s Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care, added: “This report from the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman reinforces how important it is for people, their families and carers, to experience good, safe care that is responsive to their individual needs.

“CQC’s own State of Care report highlights the critical role strong leadership has in delivering high quality care and bringing about improvement. Being open to feedback, acting appropriately on people’s complaints and actively seeking out ways to put things right are essential elements of this.

“I encourage providers to use this report to reflect on how they listen and learn from people’s experiences, concerns and complaints. If all services did this then the quality of care would be better for everyone which is what we all want to see.”

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