Ombudsman responds to CMA care home probe

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has responded to the Competition and Marks Authority’s (CMA) initial findings in its investigation into the care home market.

As part of its initial findings the CMA said last month it would be investigating whether some care home providers are breaking the law by charging families for extended periods after a resident’s death (see BREAKING NEWS: CMA investigates whether care homes are breaking the law).

The CMA also found that people were not receiving the right information in order to be able to make decisions about their care and uncovered problems with complaints procedures.

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Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said: “We welcome and agree with the study’s initial findings and recommendations, a number of which we have previously publicly called for.

“Making the complaints system work well is not only about processes. It is largely about culture. That’s the way frontline staff respond to initial concerns from care users and families, and the attitude to, and ownership of, concerns and complaints by managers, and their willingness to learn from them.

“Staff should be equipped with the tools they need to respond to concerns and complaints confidently and be empowered to resolve matters quickly. Managers, directors and board members should actively own complaints, monitor trends and implement learning.”

“To reach our service, a person may have already overcome a number of barriers, perceived or real, to raise their complaint at the local level.

“That’s why, for a number of years, we’ve been calling for councils and care providers to make the complaints process more visible, easier to navigate, and with a greater access to advocacy services for those who wish to complain about the services they receive.”

The Ombudsman received over 3,000 adult social care complaints last year, up 3% on the previous year, with more than 600 relating to residential care homes.

More than two-thirds of residential care homes complaints (67%) were upheld, up by 9% on the previous year.

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