The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (“the Ombudsman”) is a statutory body which investigates individual complaints about all adult social care providers for the last 10 years. Its work includes investigating care homes and domiciliary care, and care that is funded privately.
On 15 March 2019 the Ombudsman published a good practice guide based on its experience of dealing with of complaints about care providers. From a civil claims perspective, the significant point from this report is that there has been an increase in care provider complaints made since 2010/11, coupled with an increase in complaints that are investigated and upheld by the Ombudsman. This may well be due to increased publicity surrounding social care, as well as knowledge of the existence of the Ombudsman.
If complaints are upheld by the Ombudsman, then it will make recommendations to put things right – in almost all cases the care provider will follow the Ombudsman’s recommendations.
The most common areas where complaints are made in the Ombudsman’s experience are:
- Clear information regarding fees/charges/contracts
- Billing and invoices
- Protection of patients’ belongings
- Notice on contracts
- Care planning
In relation to the last area, care planning, the report highlights that quality care equals having in place up to date risk assessments, assessments and care plans. It is easy to see that if these documents aren’t kept up to date, and a patient suffers an injury or disease, then a care provider may well face a civil claim for damages from the patient and/oror their family.
The Ombudsman’s report also contains a useful guide for care providers to acting on feedback and complaints.
The full report can be found here
Jennifer Johnston, Associate, BLM