User menu

Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman issues good practice guide for care providers

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has issued a good practice guide to help adult social care providers improve their services.

Common issues the Ombudsman said it sees in its complaints include a lack of clear information about fees, charges and contracts, problems with billing and invoices, ensuring people’s belongings are looked after properly, and dealing with challenging behaviour from friends and relatives.

The report, which puts forward ways to avoid the pitfalls, also shows how the Ombudsman works in partnership with care regulator, the Care Quality Commission and includes a copy of the single complaints statement, Quality Matters, which was produced in partnership with organisations including HealthWatch England last year. The statement helps adult social care providers set out what service users, their families and representatives can expect when making a complaint.

Since the Ombudsman gained the jurisdiction to investigate independent care providers, it has investigated more than 2,000 complaints and is now upholding 69% of those investigated. This is higher than the overall uphold rate for all adult social care complaints (61%), it said.

Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said: “Since 2010 we’ve been the only independent route to redress for the thousands of people receiving care from independent providers.

“In that time, we have investigated thousands of complaints, and have upheld a high proportion of those we investigate.

“And although we see poor practice, we also see good examples of care providers making practical changes as a result – and it is this good practice we want to encourage. Care providers can learn a lot from the complaints we receive and resolve, and by working together hopefully we can improve the system for everyone.

“We believe caring about complaints and learning from them is a sign of a mature culture and good leadership – as well as being a cost-effective way of improving, especially when resources are under pressure.”

Responding to the launch of the guide, Glen Garrod, President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, said: “ADASS members and care providers are doing everything they can to ensure that all those in their care receive the best possible service.

“However, where people who are in receipt of care and their families believe that the quality of service has fallen below their expectations, it is important that they have the information and support available to make a complaint. If they feel that their concerns will be taken seriously and acted upon, then more often services will improve in consequence. Councils, local Healthwatch and the Care Quality Commission all have a contribution to make as well. There should be no wrong door for people with a concern about the social care services they receive.

“It is essential that all involved, most notably providers are able to learn and share lessons from complaints in order to improve their services. This good practice guide from the Ombudsman is a useful resource to help them achieve this.”