Many care homes do a wonderful job but there are few situations more distressing than a friend or relative who is receiving substandard treatment.  When a complaint needs to be made it is essential to act quickly, sensitively and in a way that is most likely to achieve a favourable outcome for the affected resident.  Needless to say this is one area in which it will usually be relatives who complain rather than the vulnerable individual who is actually suffering.  These are my top tips.
  • Care homes are regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), which is responsible for monitoring the standards of most private, voluntary and local council care services.  You should not need to go directly to the CQC unless the complaint warrants it.
  • The sorts of issues that commonly give rise to problems are health and safety, access to facilities, access to education and employment , quality of furnishings and fittings  and sub-standard personal care.  Any of these might seem trivial on one level but of deep concern on another.
  • An informal chat may of course resolve the problem but you may well decide that a more formal complaint is warranted. All registered care service providers must have a complaints procedure, which should have been clearly explained to you when the person moved in. It must set out how service users or those acting on their behalf can complain about the service.  Be very wary of any home that does not have such a procedure.
  • You can complain directly to the Care Quality Commission (CQC), whether you have made a formal complaint or not. You do not have to tell your care home that you have contacted the CQC. The CQC will write to you and let you know what they will do about your concerns.
  • The CQC website gives out very helpful advice and useful guidelines about standards, complaints and procedures together with all contact information.  See: www.cqc.org.uk for more details.
  • It goes without saying that if the problem is very serious you should consult a solicitor.  This is precisely the sort of area in which legal aid may be available.  To find an appropriate solicitor, contact the Law Society – for contact details see: www.lawsociety.org.uk