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Complain About A Care Home In Scotland

Care Home Contracts

The role of a care home is to enable residents to continue to enjoy life to the full with the support of highly qualified and caring staff. Care home staff take care of their residents and do their best to ensure that the residents’ needs are met. If you have any concerns at all, for whatever reason, the assigned care worker or care home manager will be more than happy to help to provide the best experience possible.

If you are unhappy or have concerns about the care you or a loved one receive, for example how your parent is being treated by staff at a care home, you need to speak up. You have the right to make a complaint and have it investigated.

Always speak to staff involved or the care home’s manager first as the issue can likely be resolved without any further action.

Making a complaint

Making a complaint should never feel difficult or awkward as it allows the care home to investigate the issue and improve the service they are providing. By raising your concerns, you ensure that you receive the care you or your loved one needs and is being paid for.

The Scottish care services regulator, the Care Inspectorate requires each service to have a clear complaints procedure that is easily accessible to residents and their family. The specific care home’s procedure will outline how they deal with complaints and who you can talk to. You can choose to either complain face to face, over the phone or email.

Alternatively, you can complain directly to the Care Inspectorate using their online form, over the phone, by email or letter. The Care Inspectorate will confirm receipt within three working days and aim to have their investigation completed within 40 days if your complaint meets their criteria.

Raising awareness

If there’s an issue, the care home staff, or management may not be aware of it as mistakes and misunderstandings happen. Because of this, your first step should be to talk to them to find a solution. Doing this allows the care home to listen to your feedback and fix the problem quickly to the best of their ability.

Generally, speaking to the manager resolves the problem and you won’t have to take your complaint about the care home further. Agreeing on a timeframe is a good way to ensure you or your loved one’s concerns are heard and acted upon quickly.

If the care service is provided by the NHS, contact your local NHS board.

Making a care complaint in Scotland

Mental health act complaints

If you think the care home has not upheld standards in relation to your loved ones mental welfare and according to the Mental Health Act, you should first talk to the care home about this. If the issue is not resolved, contact the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland which will investigate the complaint. They’re responsible for safeguarding the rights of people with mental illnesses or other mental disorders.

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Making a complaint

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.

Unhappy with the outcome

If you're unhappy with the outcome after speaking to and making your complaint directly to the care home, you should contact the Care Inspectorate of Scotland to discuss the situation with them. Following their own investigation, they can make requirements for the care home to improve and will provide you with a complaints report.

You have the right to ask for a post-investigation review within 10 working days if you think the Care Inspectorate has made a mistake, if you have new information or if you disagree with their decision. This applies to the service receiving the complaint as well. If you're still not happy with the Care Inspectorate’s decision, you can contact the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) to investigate the decision.

The SPSO does not investigate the Care Inspectorate’s decision itself, only how they handled the complaint. For example, if the Care Inspectorate were biased in the way they considered your complaint, or took an unreasonable amount of time to process your complaint. The SPSO cannot force the Care Inspectorate to change their decision or enforce action against a care home. They can however recommend the Care Inspectorate to address any failures and make sure they are followed.

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