Of those complaints the Ombudsman investigated in detail, 65% were upheld, which is 7% higher than for adult social care complaints in total. The data also reveals those people receiving care in their own home are less likely to be supported by a representative when making a complaint than those living in residential care.
Dr Jane Martin, Local Government Ombudsman said, 'Our complaints show that for people receiving care in their homes, it’s often the little things that mean so much to them in maintaining their dignity, independence and a good quality of life. Consistency of care is vital to those who rely on these services.
'We recognise the sector's work signposting people to us may have had an impact on the number of complaints we received. However, we are still upholding nearly two thirds of home care complaints. This is too many.
'With seemingly less access to advocacy than people in residential care, there may be further people suffering in silence at home. So we continue 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.'
During the year, the LGO received a 6% increase in complaints and enquiries about all areas of adult social care (to 2,969). It upheld 58% of all cases investigated in detail, increased from 55% on the previous year. The LGO has also seen:
- 21% increase in complaints and enquiries about care arranged privately with independent providers (self-funded care).
- 19% increase in the number of independent providers about whom it has received a complaint.
- 70% of detailed investigations upheld about care planning - the area with the most significant uphold rate.
- Assessment and care planning remains the most complained about area, with 600 complaints and enquiries received.
As the local government and social care ombudsman, the LGO looks at all types of complaints about adult social care, regardless of whether the local authority is involved. The report has analysed its complaints from 2015-2016, and the trends and patterns the organisation has observed. It also provides data for every English local authority and registerable independent care provider about which it has received a complaint.
The rise in homecare complaints follows the UKHCA's Homecare Deficit report which identified that people who rely on homecare services and those who support them are being short-changed by councils due to, 'widespread and systematic underfunding of homecare services for older people'. A recent Association of Directors of Adult Social Services survey also reiterated the deepening funding crisis facing local authorities.
Dr Jane Martin will be discussing the LGO's Review of Adult Social Care Complaints 2015/16 in CMM's Straight Talk column next month. CMM subscribers can read Dr Martin's advice on Learning from Complaints.