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How to Complain About a Care Home

Many care homes do a wonderful job but there are few situations more distressing than a finding a friend or relative in a care home whose treatment is substandard.

The sorts of issues that typically give rise to problems in care homes are health and safety issues, access to facilities, access to education and employment, quality issues with furnishings and fittings and substandard personal care.  Any of these might seem trivial on one level but of deep concern on another.

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 actually has the grievance.  

When it comes to making a complaint about a care home an informal chat may of course resolve the problem. However, it may be that you decide a more formal complaint is necessary.  

All registered care service providers must have a complaints procedure which should have been explained to all concerned when the resident first moved in.  The procedure must set out what to do for all residents or those acting on their behalf.

If you wish to raise a complaint about a care home, you should also consider raising any serious concerns with your local council. The council’s website will facilitate an online complaint.  If you are not sure which council to write to, use the ‘Find your council’ tool and insert your postcode.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the body which regulates all health and social care services in England. The CQC’s job is, amongst other things, to ensure the quality and safety of care homes, and the care given in people’s own homes.  While there should be no need to go to the CQC – if the complaint is serious enough you may wish to reach out to them to request their help or intervention.

You can complain directly to the CQC and you do not need to inform the care home that you are doing so. While the CQC decide which matters to pursue on a case by case basis, they should let you know whether they will or won’t help very swiftly.

Even if they do not take on your complaint, the CQC website gives very helpful advice and useful guidelines about standards, complaints and procedures.  There is a link for filing a complaint online.  The CQC will also help if you feel that there has been potential criminal behaviour or if you suspect a care home of not being registered and thus operating illegally.

And, of course, it goes without saying that whatever the complaint you should adopt an approach of being polite but very firm rather than aggressive. While your friend or relatives wellbeing is always going to be your first priority – and an emotionally charged issue – maintaining good relations with the organisation who in charge of their care is going to be of benefit to all involved.

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