Annual report shows slight increase in complaints about adult social care

The ombudsman received 2602 complaints about adult social care this year, increasing from 2555 in the previous year

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Complaints to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman about council adult social care rose by 2% last year but the number upheld slightly dropped, according to the watchdog’s annual complaints report.

Published this week (25 July), the ombudsman’s Review of local government complaints showed 2602 complaints were made about adult social care between 2017-18. This was slightly higher than 2016-17, when it received 2555 complaints from the public about adult care.

Of the 2017-18 total, 61% of complaints were upheld, a fall from the 63% upheld in 2016-17, meaning there were slightly fewer upheld complaints in 2017-18 than the previous year.

The ombudsman investigates complaints against councils from people who claim they have suffered injustice as a result of service failure or maladministration, a general word for wrongdoing by authorities.

The complainant must exhaust the council’s own complaints process first before referring the issue to the ombudsman.

Complaints breakdown

As in the previous year, the ombudsman received the greatest number of complaints about education and children’s services in 2017-18,  3260, up from 2963 in 2016-17.

The proportion of education and children’s services complaints upheld also rose, from 63% to 65%, continuing an increase in the proportion upheld from 38% in 2013-14. Adult social care was the  second biggest area for complaints.

The North West was the region with the highest proportion of adult social care complaints upheld, with the South East having the lowest. The North East had the highest proportion of education and children’s services complaints upheld with the East Midlands having the lowest.

Ombudsman Michael King said the wider outcomes from the complaints were far more important than the numbers:

“For a long time, we’ve been pressing just how important complaints can be as a learning tool for local authorities – and a great source of free feedback about the health of the services they provide.”

‘Positive examples’

“We know being on the receiving end of an upheld complaint can be a tough pill to swallow. But this year, we’ve seen some really positive examples of councils taking on board our recommendations.

“Over the coming year I hope even more councils will take on a more mature and positive reflection of the data we provide, their annual letters and the many focus reports and public interest reports we issue and use these tools to scrutinise where their own services might be improved.”

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One Response to Annual report shows slight increase in complaints about adult social care

  1. Chris Sterry July 27, 2018 at 12:11 pm #

    This is, however, just the tip of the ‘iceberg’ for there is much unrest or lack of trust in many, if not all of our Local Authorities, with many persons showing or more likely not showing their discontent.

    In Sheffield, I am active in many groups, mainly, but not all, involved with learning disabilities and Autism and could guarantee that if I went to a meeting daily, I would come accross at least one family at each meeting that were far from happy with Sheffield City Council, but to make a complaint or just query of a council action they would not do, but would voice their feelings in what they consider a ‘safe environment’.

    They will not come forth for a number of reasons, they are unaware they can and if they do know, do not know how. for others it is a time consuming process and they are not willing or have the time to do so, In addition they may have complained previously and did nort like how they were treated, but effectively the foremost reason, I believe is they are extremely scared of losing the small amount of care they have been granted already, also there will be some who feel their loved one or ones that have a need for care will be picked on for their family daring to complain.

    This is also true of why complaints are not made frequently to numerous other organisations, many in health, including GPs and hospitals, care provider agencies, the list is endless.

    By complaints not being made, the process for improving services is not being realised.

    Complaints should not be feared by anyone, especially the person or persons who are not happy, but perhaps more so with the organisations, who may be reluctant to engage change.

    Many profile caes have arisen over the years, the one I always quote, being Mid Staffs, between January 2005 and March 2009 at a Stafford hospital. Not only did the hospital not initially engage with the complaint positively they went out of their way to fight it. The complainent not only lost her job, but her house, her family and had to leave the areas and I believe had to be given a new identity

    Until there is openness, honesty and transparency and may I had accountability complaints will always never match the number of mistakes, wrong doings, etc that are taking place, but kelp under the ‘carpet’.