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Complaining About a Care Home: Top Ten Tips

By: Kevin Dowling BA (IMC) - Updated: 14 Dec 2010 | comments*Discuss
Care Home Complaint Relative Loved

Most care homes are well maintained and offer their residents a good level of care and quality of life, but there will always be examples of when care falls below expectations. Sadly, when it comes to the quality of care homes, many people feel that standards are simply not good enough.

Sometimes you can tell when someone you are close to is unhappy. If they are in a care home, they may not wish to make you unduly worried or wish to complain, but you may detect signs that they are not being treated as well as they should be.

When this happens it is important to know who you should complain to first and how best to voice your concerns. Here are our top ten tips on getting your care home concerns heard.

1. Talk to the Immediate Carers

If you feel that the level of care that a relative or loved one is receiving is not up to scratch, then really the first people that you should speak to are the nursers or professional carers that are on duty at the time. This is important as the first step to reaching a solution.

They should be able to deal with any relatively minor grievances without the need to escalate the problem to more senior people.

Remember that these carers are professionals, and will expect to be spoken to and treated with according respect and courtesy Try to remain calm and clearly explain the issues as you or the care home resident sees them.

2. Complaining to the Care Home Manager

For more serious complaints, you should consider whether it is necessary to speak directly to the manager or person in charge of the care home.

Although this often feels like a more formal way to deal with any problems, talking to the manager can still be done on a relatively informal basis.

Most care home managers are used to dealing with resident or relative complaints, and are keen to encourage an ‘open door’ policy so that these complaints can be considered and, where possible, rectified to everyone’s satisfaction.

There may, however, be occasions when the care home manager is unable, or even unwilling to rectify an issue on an informal basis. Should this occur, then a formal complaint can be made.

All care homes will have set in place a complaints procedure that the care home manager will be required to follow. This is usually outlined when the resident moves in and is there to ensure that residents are happy with the care levels they receive.

3. Complaining to the Regional Manager

What happens if the complaint you wish to make also relates to the care home manager? Well the next step along the chain of procedure would be to contact the organisation that owns or manages the care home.

Smaller homes are more likely to have an owner or proprietor. Larger care homes usually have a head office or a regional manager who can deal with complaints that are considered beyond the scope or control of the care home manager.

4. Complaining to Head Office

Be aware that once your complain reaches the stage where its resolution could lie outside of the control of the care home itself, then it is important to make sure that you document your complaint.

Rather than making your complaint over the telephone, you should correspond in writing and ask that you get a response in writing too. That way there can really be no ambiguity about when you made the complaint and how long it takes to resolve.

You should keep copies of any letters you send and make sure that when you post them you do so by recorded delivery, just to be certain that you know they received the complaint.

5. Commission for Social Care Inspection

If you feel concerned that the care home you have made a formal complaint about could be in serious breach of their rules and regulations, then you may look to make a complaint to the care homes regulator, the Commission for Social Care Inspection. The commission is able to respond to issues where a care home has broken its minimum care standards. They can send out inspectors to make an independent assessment of the care home.

6. Complaining to the Social Services

Those residents who have their care home fees paid by their council or local authority also have a right to complain to the council’s social services.Social services will have a care coordinator available to give advice, take details of complains, conduct formal investigate and also take actions that the local authority deems appropriate.

7. Complaining to the National Health Service

Many care homes are funded by the NHS, which means that you can take your complaint through full NHS channels if you wish to. You can contact your local NHS trust and they can put you in touch with the correct people to speak to.

8. Complaining to Support Bodies

If you feel that you need independent and impartial advice, there are numerous support organisations that you can turn to for assistance. Age Concern, Help the Aged and Action on Elder Abuse can all be contacted confidentially and will be able to offer impartial advice and

9. Legal Proceedings

If you believe that your case is serious, for example involving criminal negligence or even fraud, then you may need to seek the advice of a solicitor. If you do not have a solicitor, then you can contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau. They will be able to provide you with a comprehensive list of local solicitors, as well as offering you advice on the steps that you will need to take to initiate any legal actions against a care home.

10. Complaining to the Police

If you believe that there are serious criminal acts taking place in the care home, such as physical abuse, theft or other forms of criminal activity, then you should contact the police.

When we entrust the care of our loved ones to other people we always want to ensure that they have the very best of everything. Never be afraid to act to voice your concerns or to shed light on issues that you feel need to be addressed.

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