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Ombudsman upholding two-thirds of adult social care complaints

20 November 2017

The local government and social care ombudsman upheld 63% of adult social care complaints in 2016/2017, 10% higher than the average across all sectors, according to his annual review.

The proportion of investigations upheld during 2016/2017 rose 5% year on year, while the number of investigations completed -1,214 - was up 9%.

Complaints relating to adult safeguarding saw the steepest climb, up 27% from 2015/2016. Meanwhile the number of complaints relating to independent care providers was up 16% to 447, continuing a steady rise from just 58 back in 2010/2011.

Michael King, the local government and social care ombudsman, said the safeguarding figures were “worrying”. But he welcomed the rise in independent care complaints as evidence of a “learning culture” among providers, which he said were getting better at responding to complaints and encouraging people to refer them.

The ombudsman’s review also highlighted the potential for complaints to result in service improvements that benefit people beyond the primary complainant.

Around one in three complaints remedied in 2016/2017 included measures to address “systemic problems”, it said, such as instigating procedural changes or training staff.

King said that the ombudsman would be increasingly looking to use powers in place since 2008 that enable the service to broaden its investigations to tackle problems affecting more than one person:

“There is a growing understanding between councils, care providers and us that the power of complaints isn’t just sorting out the day-to-day stuff but what you learn and how you use that as tool for improvement”.

Sue Bott from Disability Rights UK said:

"I feel completely frustrated by the government announcement of a green paper on social care at some point in 2018. Although we are promised a workstream looking at social care for younger people it is clear it is almost entirely about older people and how much they should pay. How else do you explain the list of experts that contains not one disabled person or anyone knowledgeable and committed to the choice and control agenda. This isn’t about kicking social care into the long grass it’s kicking it over the hills and far away.

The Government also seem not to have learnt anything from the recommendations of the UNCRPD committee that there needs to be better engagement with disabled people on all areas of policy. I would urge the Government to listen the concerns of the 90 MPs who have raised social care as an urgent issue to be resolved and to listen to the many voices of disabled people who are highlighting how the inadequacies of the current system are blighting our opportunities to live and participate as equal citizens."

The local government and social care ombudsman’s 2016/2107 annual review of complaints is available @ http://www.lgo.org.uk/information-centre/news/2017/nov/ombudsman-highlights-the-power-of-complaints-to-improve-social-care

For more information see -http://www.communitycare.co.uk/2017/11/17/ombudsman-upholding-two-thirds-adult-social-care-complaints-annual-review-reveals/?cmpid=NLC|SCSC|SCDDB-2017-1117