The majority of care home residents across the UK are satisfied in their care homes living meaningful and fulfilling lives while being fully supported by skilled, empathetic, caring staff.
However, mistakes and misunderstandings happen, but care home staff are there to take care of you or your loved one the best they can and if there are any issues, they are more than happy to help. Always speak to the care worker involved first and then the manager as most of your concerns can be answered and resolved this way.
If you are disappointed or feel like something is wrong with the service you or a loved one receive in a care home, you have the right to make a complaint, have the complaint investigated and be given a full and prompt reply. This can be regarding how you are treated by staff or you may feel that you are not getting the services you are paying for.
Making a complaint shouldn’t be seen as a daunting task and you should always raise any concerns that you may have. In fact, most care homes will welcome this so they can resolve the situation and improve their service.
All care home providers are required to have a complaints procedure in place and a copy of this will be available for you to read. This will tell you how the specific service deals with complaints and who you should talk to. You can complain either by phone, in person, by email or through a letter. If you make a complaint verbally, the care home should always provide you with a copy of the complaint.
Always be mindful that the manager of the care home may not know there is an issue, so having an informal chat with the care worker or the care home’s manager is a good first step to resolve the problem. This gives them an opportunity to investigate your concerns, explain the situation and take action to resolve the issue.
It could be a simple misunderstanding, making the manager aware of your concerns will likely resolve the problem and no further action is necessary. It’s a good idea to agree a timeframe to make sure the manager keeps their word. If they don’t resolve the problem within the agreed timeframe, you may have to take your complaint further to force action.
If the care service is provided by the NHS, you have to follow the NHS complaints procedure. Contact your local council to get in touch with the NHS Complaints Advocacy Service, this is a free and confidential service independent of the NHS.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) regulates care homes in England, but they don’t have the powers to make complaints on your behalf or to investigate or resolve them. However, if you make a complaint about a care home, the CQC would like to hear from you.
The only time the CQC can investigate complaints is when someone is unhappy about how powers and duties have been executed under the Mental Health Act. This relates to people who have been, or are detained in hospital, subject to a community treatment order or subject to guardianship.
If the CQC does investigate complaints about the use of the Mental Health Act, you should always speak to the service provider first and the CQC can help you with this.
If you decide to make a written complaint, either by letter or email, make sure you give full, specific details of your concerns and what results you expect. Also, it is important to make it clear that you are making a complaint and not just pointing out an issue within a care home.
Keeping accurate records is important if you need to take the matter further as this can be used as evidence. Put as much information as you can in writing and keep notes of phone calls, meetings and other relevant events.
Your complaint should include:
What the problem is and how it impacts your loved one, for example emotionally, financially or their overall wellbeing.
Who is involved, with names and position of staff.
When and where the incident occurred or if it is ongoing. Providing a timeline of events.
What you have already done to try to resolve the problem.
What outcome you want from your complaint.