The majority of people who use social care services report high levels of satisfaction with the support they receive.
However, when things do go wrong, people don’t often know where to turn to raise their concerns and ensure they are resolved quickly. This can mean that people are stuck with care that’s not good enough, sometimes with serious consequences.
Conversations we have had with the public have highlighted just how difficult and distressing this sort of situation can be.
Our report Suffering in Silence published in 2014, highlighted a range of issues that people face when trying to make a complaint about health and social care services. We found that three in five people who make a complaint do not feel that their concerns are taken seriously, while one in four said that they would not complain about their care for fear it would make the problem worse.
What has happened since we published this research?
Whilst there have been improvements made in raising and learning from complaints in the health sector, less focus has been given to social care.
As part of the Quality Matters initiative, last year we developed a toolkit for care services and councils to work with local Healthwatch to improve the way complaints are handled at a local level.
Today we have published a Single Complaints Statement. Developed with the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, and supported by representatives right across the sector, this provides a one-stop shop for the public and social care professionals to understand and have clarity on how to make and respond to complaints.
The current complaints system doesn’t measure up to what people want or expect.
The public are very clear on what they want
- Clear and consistent information on where and how to complain;
- Reassurance that their complaint is being taken seriously;
- A personal, specific response; and
- An outcome that is clear, timely and proportional.
The Single Complaints Statement pulls together all of this, explaining what people should be able to expect when making a complaint, and signposting people to the correct organisations and individuals with who they should raise their complaint.
It provides an authoritative overview of everyone’s rights when it comes to making a complaint, ensuring that people’s voices are heard and respected when they have a concern about a social care service.
As well as a statement for the public, explaining their rights, we have also produced a statement for social care professionals, to make clear what their responsibilities are when handling a complaint.
The next step is to make sure that the public and social care professionals make best use of these new resources.
We are going to work with our colleagues in the Quality Matters group to make sure that these documents are shared as widely as possible, and that everyone knows that they exist and what they are for.
This process starts behind the scenes making sure that people who work in social care are up to speed. Through this, we want to see that complaints are made, managed and responded to in a consistent and fair way.
We want to ensure everyone who uses social care, their families and the people who support them are empowered to raise concerns and get their voices heard.