Making a complaint if your social care has been cut or changed

The law requires the local authority to provide a detailed explanation for the outcome of your new assessment.

If they have missed out any of the information that should be included in your assessment and care plan, ask them for this in writing urgently.

If they have missed out or not properly appreciated any of your needs or difficulties, ask them to correct this.

Make sure that the outcomes that are set out in your care plan are the ones you want, so that it's clear how needs can be met in a way that promotes your wellbeing.

Think about the needs identified by the local authority and their decision about whether your needs are eligible or not. Have they wrongly decided that you will still be able to meet your outcomes? Tell them exactly what the effect will be on your wellbeing if you do not have support for that need. Focus on the worst case scenario that they need to take into account. Not just how things are when you are having a good day.

You may have needs and outcomes that will only have a moderate effect on your wellbeing to start with but, if they are not met and are allowed to get worse, they are likely to become much more serious. Ask the council to meet these needs to stop you getting into a crisis. Explain that, although they may save money to start with, in the longer term they may use more money than they save if they ignore these needs.

Ask them to respond within 7 days and reinstate your previous care package until they can reply.

If this doesn’t get the result you want, you can complain to the Ombudsman or get legal advice about possible court action.

Every local authority has to have a complaints process. Your local authority should explain on their website how they deal with complaints and how long they will take to reply. You can also phone them and ask for a copy of the social care complaints procedure. A social services department must have a member of staff who deals with complaints. This person is called the complaints manager. The complaints manager may bring in a person who is independent of the social services department to help resolve the complaint.

Your complaint

Your complaint must be made within a year of the event you are complaining about. Your local authority can accept a complaint after this in exceptional circumstances.

You can make a complaint over the phone. But, for most people, it is easier to complain in writing. You can spend time making sure you’ve said everything you want to say, and clearly. It’s also easier to stay calm. You can keep a copy which could be important if you have to take it further.

Golden rules of complaining

The complaint should come from the person who receives the care unless they:

  • are a child, in which case it should come from their parents or legal guardians, or
  • lack mental capacity, in which case it should come from a family member or close friend, or an independent advocate who is working with them to help them express their views.

The person should have the opportunity to express their views if they are able to. The complaint should be based on these as far as possible.

There are 6 golden rules of complaining:

  • Be clear what the problem is and that you are making a formal complaint.
  • Ask for help in solving the problem. Most people at least try to help if asked.
  • Stick to the point. Do not rant.
  • Keep your tone calm and be polite, even if they have been rude with you. Having the ‘moral high ground’ can be very helpful.
  • Be clear what you want to happen as a result of your complaint.
  • Ask them not to make the change you are complaining about until your complaint has been dealt with. Say why it will be a problem if they go ahead without waiting.

Complain in writing if you can. Once you have written your complaint, you can either post or email it. If you post it, use 'signed for' (recorded) delivery, if possible.

How to write a complaint letter

Before you send your complaint letter

Ask a friend or family member to read it through. If you're getting help from an advice worker or advocate they can help you with this. They can help check that you have included everything and explained things clearly.

Keep copies of everything

  • Keep all the letters you receive, copies of those you send and any evidence you have sent to support your complaint.
  • Store them safely in date order in a folder or ring binder. It will make it easier if you have everything together to show your adviser or solicitor if you need to take things further.

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