Sharp rise in adult social care complaints
The number of complaints about adult social care leapt by more than a fifth last year, according to data from the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO).
The spike in unhappy service users getting in touch with commissioners comes after the LGO was given responsibility for investigating private sector providers as well as social care services run by local councils.
This change was introduced in October 2010 and has helped fuel the 22% increase in unhappy care users recorded in the 12 months to April this year.
The LGO said that from the more than 1,000 cases it investigated, failures to give care users good enough advice about which social care options would be most suitable were particularly common.
Other areas which drew criticism included short home visits, carers arriving late or not all for appointments and the high turnover of carers that users of home care services had to put up with.
Issues that vexed those using residential services and their relatives were poor staff attitudes and failures to take into account people's health needs.
Dr Jane Martin, ombudsman and chair of the LGO, said: "The LGO has an important part to play in providing information from complaints to support informed choice of services and to bring about improvements. Our work with adult social care providers puts us in a good position to resolve disputes with providers and seek redress for citizens who pay for their own services."
The LGO has published four key areas that adult social care providers should focus on to offer consistently good services to their users.
:: Improving the quality of care - investigations reveal the most common issues of complaint about care, both residential and at home and the need for an effective complaints process for speedy, local resolution and service improvement.
:: Making informed choices - service users need accurate advice and information to make well-informed choices about the care options available. They need to be clear about what they should pay and what services they should get.
:: Protecting the vulnerable - complaints to the LGO illustrate the challenging nature of the process of safeguarding vulnerable adults.
:: Resolving complaints locally - prompt and open action to resolve complaints benefits the service user and the care provider, helping to repair damaged relationships and improve services.