“It’s no longer just one-off mistakes; we’re seeing problems with systems, policies and the way procedures are being applied…”
That’s the view of Michael King, the Local Government Ombudsman, as he has today published his office’s annual review of adult social care complaints.
Over the past year, the Ombudsman has become increasingly concerned about the way some authorities are handling the need to balance the pressures they are under with the way they assess and charge for care.
The report looks at the data behind every adult social care complaint the Ombudsman has received over the 12-month period.
The Ombudsman received 23 complaints about the way in which Croydon Council handles adult social care in 2017-2018. Its report shows that the Ombudsman upheld 100 per cent of the complaints against Croydon Council. None of the Ombudsman’s findings on these complaints have ever been publicised by Croydon Council, either by press release or on its website.
Nationally, the Ombudsman handled 3,106 complaints, and upheld 62 per cent of them.
“Assessment and care planning, and how care is paid for, remain some of the biggest areas of complaint. Even more concerning is that the issues we see demonstrate a shift from one-off mistakes to problems with whole systems and policies, or procedures being incorrectly applied,” King said.
“Adult social care has seen sustained high levels of complaints upheld compared to our general work. We know authorities are operating under an enormous amount of pressure and financial challenge to deliver care services. The stark reality of this is now playing out in the complaints we see.
“Despite this, when it comes to service delivery, we simply can’t make concessions for these pressures in the recommendations we make.”
And the Care Quality Commission also had some words which might seem fitting for those in charge at Croydon Council. “In the current challenging circumstances for adult social care, it’s more important than ever that those in charge of running and commissioning care services actively listen and learn from people’s experiences, concerns and complaints,” said Andrea Sutcliffe, CQC’s chief inspector of adult social care.
“CQC sees regular evidence of this in the four-fifths of adult social care services currently rated as good or outstanding across the country, but as this report from the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman once again highlights this isn’t the case for everyone.
“Ensuring complaints policies are accessible, that people know how to raise issues, their concerns are responded to and any promised action really does happen is all part of delivering truly responsive and well-led care.”
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