Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, welcomed Healthwatch England’s latest report and added:
“For as long as we have been investigating complaints about care providers we have been encouraging them to have an open and mature attitude to complaints - one where they are valued within organisations as ‘free feedback’ and learning opportunities. Indeed, how an organisation deals with complaints says a lot about its culture.
“People should have a voice in designing the services they receive, whether they had a good or bad experience, because their feedback can be invaluable. Staff should be equipped with the tools they need to respond to concerns and complaints confidently and be empowered to resolve matters quickly. Managers, directors and board members should actively own complaints, monitor trends and implement learning.
“It is equally important for care providers to complete the process when they have resolved a complaint by feeding back the learning and any changes that will be made not only to the residents themselves, but to their families, and of course their staff.”
Janet Morrison, Chief Executive of Independent Age, said:
“Choosing a care home for yourself or a loved one can be a daunting decision, all too often undermined by huge variations in the quality of care on offer. That’s why we developed eight Quality Indicators as highlighted in the report, spelling out what a good care home should look like which include having staff with time and skills to do their job.
"While there are some examples of excellent practice, this report suggests poor care is still endemic in some parts of the care system with patients being left high and dry and without proper care and support. Just as worrying, Healthwatch shows how a ‘culture of apathy’ towards the experiences of residents has taken root in some homes.
"It highlights concern about staff numbers, training and turnover at a time when there is still a lot of uncertainty about the sector’s ability to recruit workers from the EU. The Government must address these issues as it prepares to publish a consultation on social care, although worryingly the timetable for that consultation remains unclear.”
Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said:
“Councils want to see everyone receive high quality care and for care homes to be of a high standard that meet people’s needs, going beyond simply getting washed and dressed but living as independent and fulfilling a life as possible.
“While it is clear that in some places, there is work to be done and areas for improvement, it is encouraging to note that most people have said the care they receive is good.
“The recent Care Quality Commission report also found that the majority of care provided for adults is rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’.
“Councils, as commissioners, work closely with providers who deliver services to ensure both the availability of high quality care and continuous improvement.
“But this study is yet another reminder of the stark reality of the funding crisis facing adult social care, and the urgent need to bring desperately needed stability to the provider market.
“While the £2 billion announced in the Spring Budget for social care was a step in the right direction, it is only one-off funding and social care services still face an annual £2.3 billion funding gap by 2020.
“It is absolutely critical that the Government brings forward its consultation for social care announced in the Queen’s Speech, and that it works with local government leaders in delivering a long-term sustainable solution for social care. This must address the issue of long-term funding, but it must also create the conditions necessary to ensure the development of the right kind of care and support services.”
Caroline Abrahams, Director Age UK, said:
"It is great to see that some residents and relatives are reporting a positive experience. Sadly however, by no means every care home offers these fundamentals and in the worst cases older people have experienced unforgivable levels of abuse and neglect. This reinforces the urgent need for the government to stand by its pledge to put social care onto a sustainable basis for the future."