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Complaining about a residential care or nursing home

If you're not happy with the service provided by a residential care or nursing home, here's how you can make a complaint.

You can get support if you need it. This could be from a family member or friend. Your local authority or an independent organisation could also provide you with an advocate.

Warning Do you feel safe?

If you do not feel safe or are being abused, this is a safeguarding issue. If you're in immediate danger, call 999 and ask for the police.

Contact the home's local council or Care Quality Commission.

Find the local council (GOV.UK)

Give feedback on care (Care Quality Commission)

Complaining to the care home

All residential care home providers must have a complaints procedure that explains how you can raise concerns. Ask them to give you a copy so you're aware of the process you need to follow and what to expect.

Speak to the manager first

If you can, tell the manager at the care home about your concerns. They should be willing to discuss the problem with you and may try to resolve it informally. If they do not, you may need to complain in writing.

Write to them

Write your complaint in a letter or email if speaking to the home does not resolve your concerns.

Include:

  • a clear explanation of your complaint and why you are making it
  • dates and times of events when you were unhappy with the care received
  • names and job titles of staff involved
  • what actions you've already taken to raise concerns
  • how you want the complaint resolved and by when

The home should contact you to let you know what decision they've made and explain how they arrived at it.

Warning Keep copies

It's important to keep copies of all correspondence you have with the home. You could print emails or take screenshots. Keep these together.

Make a note of meetings and telephone conversations in case you need them for reference.

Unresolved complaints

There are things you can do if you do not agree with the care home's response to your written complaint.

There are 2 different processes. The process you follow depends on how your care is funded, either:

  • the council pays for your care
  • you or someone you know pays for your care (self-funded)

Local authority funded places

You can complain directly to the local council who funds the placement at the home. You can find information on how to do this on the council website.

Find your local council (GOV.UK)

If the local authority fails to resolve your complaint, you can ask the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman to investigate the matter further. The Ombudsman is the final stage for complaints about social care providers, including care homes.

Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

Self-funded places

If you or someone you know pays for your placement, you can still take your complaint further. You need to complain directly to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman. Ask about its independent complaints review service. You can contact them:

  • using an online form
  • in writing
  • by telephone

Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

Support with making complaints

You can ask a friend or family member to help you write letters, emails and to speak on your behalf.

You could also find an advocate.

Advocates

An advocate is someone you trust, who also knows what your rights are. They could help you to make a complaint. They are usually free.

Your local authority will have an advocacy service that they use. Ask your council to put you in contact.

Find your local council (GOV.UK)

Local independent organisations may also be able to provide you with an advocate.

Advocacy (Disability Rights UK)

If your local authority pays for your care, you have more protection under the 1998 Human Rights Act.

It might be possible to get some free legal advice.

Finding legal help

The Care Quality Commission

The Care Quality Commission cannot investigate individual complaints. But they can inspect the care home to see if:

  • the care home is delivering care of the right quality
  • the care home is safe

You can give feedback to the Commission on your care. The Commission can choose to inspect the care home. If the Commission reports that the care is very bad, the care home might have to close.

If you feedback to the Commission on your care, do this after you make a formal complaint to your local authority or the Social Care Ombudsman.

Give feedback on care (Care Quality Commission)

Last reviewed by Scope on: 18/08/2020

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