**Complaints over social care in England nearly trebled since 2010.
Labour attacks " Hollowing-out of the social care system " after ombudsman’s damning report.**
**_Complaints and inquiries about adult social care have nearly trebled since 2010, a damning report reveals, prompting warnings that the industry is struggling to cope with funding pressures.
The local government and social care ombudsman said there were 3,106 complaints or inquiries about private or council-run adult social care in 2017/18, compared with 1,156 in 2010/11.
The proportion of complaints being upheld by the ombudsman – which deals with the final stage of grievances about adult social care in England – also increased, from 43% in 2010/11 to 62% in 2017/18. There were 1,274 recommendations for improvements in the last year._**
The shadow minister for social care, Barbara Keeley, said: “This alarming spike in the number of complaints is a direct result of the hollowing-out of the social care system by this government’s decision to cut the budgets of councils who provide social care.
“Councils and overworked, underpaid care staff are struggling to keep up with the pace of demand for care from those with limited means, while ever greater numbers of private payers desperate for support find themselves being ripped off for expensive yet sub-standard care by opportunistic private care providers.”
**A Guardian investigation revealed last week that some of the country’s worst care homes were owned by companies that made a total profit of £113m.
The ombudsman has had the power to investigate grievances about independent care providers since 2010. In that time the number of complaints has increased year on year. The number in 2017/18 was up 1% on the previous year.
The report reveals that 725 complaints or inquiries were about assessment and care planning, 598 about residential care, 382 about home care, 325 about charging and 242 about safeguarding. There was a 9% increase in complaints about charging.
The report says: “We made 1,274 recommendations to put things right. Our remedies included 274 recommendations to train staff or change policies or procedures, up by a fifth on the previous year.”
It cautions that “complaint volumes alone do not tell us enough about the social care landscape, the quality of services or people’s experience of them”. It says the rising numbers may be a “positive byproduct of people feeling able to speak up”, but it acknowledges that it may also be “indicative of poorer-quality care and experiences”.
Of the 3,106 complaints or inquiries, 1,130 were investigated by the ombudsman. The majority of the remainder are understood to have been premature complaints, where people were directed to contact the care provider, the council or the CQC directly before going to the ombudsman if the situation was not resolved.
Michael King, the chair of the ombudsman, said: “A lot of the things we’re seeing now aren’t one-off slip-ups, this is where local authorities [are] trying to make ends meet, sometimes by doing things which are outside of the letter or the spirit of the law, and that’s what’s much more worrying.
“Since 2010 we’ve seen significant changes which reflect the pressures on the system and I think the two big areas I would flag up are that increase in the uphold rate, which for me is very significant – you don’t see those kind of shifts unless there’s something quite fundamental going on – and the second one is this move from individual error to much more systemic problems.”
He said his own organisation had had to deal with significant funding reductions since 2010.**
… and that’s just those who have contacted the Ombudsman !
How many hundreds of thousands / low millions just accepted whatever decision / malpractice ?
Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman :