Making a complaint about social care services – what should you expect?

Here we look at six things you should expect when making a complaint about social care services.
Young woman with her arms round an elderly lady sitting in a chair

If you have a bad experience and your care goes wrong, it’s vital that services put things right as soon as possible and learn from what happened.

However, we know from our conversations with the public that making a complaint isn’t always straightforward. Some people worry that by speaking up their care will be affected or that they won’t be taken seriously. Others find the process too complicated.

To make it clear what to expect when making and dealing with complaints about social care services, we’ve been working with the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman to develop a Single Complaints Statement for both professionals and the public. Together, we’ve worked with organisations from across the social care sector as part of the Quality Matters Initiative to tackle people’s concerns.

Three steps to follow when making a complaint about your social care

  1. If you need to make a complaint, it’s usually best to tell the organisation that provides or pays for the service. Doing this as soon as possible gives the best chance to put things right.
  2. If this doesn’t solve the problem, ask the organisation for a copy of their complaints process and make a formal complaint.
  3. If you are unhappy with the result, you can contact the Ombudsman for an independent investigation of your complaint.

So what should you expect?

  • Encouragement and reassurance
    You should feel encouraged to give feedback about the care you received and be provided with the information you need to do so. Your treatment should not be unfairly affected because you shared your views. You should receive reassurance that if you needed to make a complaint, your care or the care of others will not be affected.
  • Respect and involvement
    You should feel listened to, respected, and involved throughout the process of making a complaint. You should also be provided with the right support to make your complaint, including independent advocacy where appropriate.
  • A simple process with well trained staff
    The complaints process should be clear and easy to find. Organisations and the staff working for them should have the skills to listen and understand your feedback and deal with it in an open and transparent way.
  • To be taken seriously and to know what will change as a result
    Feedback should be taken seriously and you should receive an explanation of the steps they will take to address the problem. It should also be made clear how the organisation uses people’s feedback to improve their services.
  • A simple process to follow for when there’s more than one organisation involved
    There can often be more than one organisation involved with your care. If your complaint covers more than one organisation, you should be signposted to the right organisation, be able to make one complaint and receive a joint response from those involved.
  • Clear information on what to do if you’re not happy with the result
    If you are unhappy with the result of your complaint, you should be given clear information about how to contact the Ombudsman for an independent review.

However big or small the issue, if it’s important to one person, it’s very likely that it affects other people, too. 

By sharing your story you can help doctors, dentists, hospitals and care homes understand what’s working and what could be better, for you and your community

Do health and social care services know what you really think?

Share your ideas and experiences and help services hear what works, what doesn’t, and what you want from care in the future. 

Speak to your local Healthwatch