Writing a formal complaint about your social care needs assessment

Here's an example of what to put in a complaints letter or email. There is a sample letter below that you can adapt.

When to write a formal complaint

Writing a formal complaint is the best way to challenge the outcome of your social care needs assessment if you've already tried having an informal conversation with your assessor.

If writing a formal complaint does not work

You can ask your local authority for an independent review. If this does not work, you can complain to the Local Government Ombudsman.

Challenging a social care needs assessment

What to put in your letter or email

1. In the top-right

Add your name, address, the date, email address, phone number and any reference numbers.

2. Below your name and address, on the left

Add the name of the person your are complaining to or the 'Complaints Officer'. Add the address of the complaints office.

To find the address, check your local authority's website or ask staff where to send it.

Complain about your council, with postcode search (GOV.UK)

Find your local authority (GOV.UK)

If you know the name of the complaints officer, use this instead of "Dear Sir/Madam".

3. Say what the complaint is about

Write a sentence on what you're complaining about. For example,

"I am making a complaint about the outcome of my needs assessment."

If you are writing on behalf of someone else, say:

  • who they are
  • what your relationship with them is

4. Say if your complaint is urgent

If your complaint is urgent:

  • ask if your local authority has a special procedure for dealing with urgent complaints and ask them to use it
  • say why your complaint is urgent.

5. Describe what happened

Write the dates of any relevant letters or events. This includes phone calls and any other conversations.

Add the names or job titles of professionals involved in your care. This includes any care plans and needs assessment.

6. Say why you think your needs assessment is not accurate or fair

Be specific. For example:

"I was assessed as having no mobility problems but I need a stairlift to go upstairs and use a walking frame out of the house."

or

"My son was assessed as not needing night support but he wakes up 4 times a night and needs assisting to the toilet so he does not fall and injure himself."

7. Include copies of supporting evidence

Mention copies of any letters and documents you include in the letter. Do not send any original documents. This could be anything that shows that the information in your complaint is true. For example, assessment reports, appointment letters or notes from conversations.

8. Say how your condition is affecting your needs

Tell them if your condition is:

  • getting worse, and you need more care rather than less, and tell them how not having the care is or could affect your wellbeing
  • the same, and your care needs have not changed

9. Say what you want to happen

For example:

  • to continue to receive the care you have been receiving
  • to receive help from another service
  • to be reassessed
  • a change to how they deal with something
  • to get more support so that you can meet an 'essential' outcome

10. Sharing your local authority's records with other departments

You can save time by giving your consent for the local authority to share their records with other departments.

11. When you want a response, contact details and signature

End your letter by:

  • confirming when you are expecting a response
  • thanking them
  • saying when and how they can contact you

Sign your letter before sending it.

Check the local authority's complaints policy to see when you should expect a response.

Sample letter

This is a sample letter, showing how you could complain if your local authority decided to reduce your support after a recent assessment.

In the example, 15 hours of care at home each week was cut to 10 hours.

You will need to adapt this letter if you want to use it.

[Your name]

[Your address]

[Your phone number]

[Your email]

Complaints Officer. [Date]

[Complaints office address]

Dear Sir/Madam

Re: Formal Complaint – Needs Assessment Outcome

I am writing to you to complain about the outcome of my recent needs assessment. The assessment took place on [date of assessment] and I was informed of the outcome, in writing, on [date when you received the letter].

Please treat this letter as an urgent formal complaint under your complaints policy. It is urgent as the change in my care from [date from when your care will change] means that I will no longer receive the support I believe I need. This support is important to several areas of my wellbeing and these have not been fully considered in the need's assessment. These include [examples here].

As you can see from the attached document, my last assessment found I had the following care needs:

[list of care needs]

My care needs have not changed since then.

I believe that the assessment that has reduced my care hours is not accurate. My care needs and condition have not changed since my last assessment. [I am unable to wash and dress without help in the morning because of problems with my mobility. I do not believe this is fully considered in my needs assessment.]

I would like you to change your decision to reduce my care. Please reassess my care needs. Please ensure I go on getting my current level of service until the assessment is completed. I would like a face-to-face assessment.

I understand that you may need to access my records in order to investigate my complaint. You may also want to share information with other relevant parties. I confirm that I give my consent for you to share information about me held by you with relevant parties so that you can investigate and resolve my complaint.

I look forward to your response within the next [length of time in local authority's complaint's policy] days, as per your policy. Many thanks for your help with this matter.

If you would like to discuss my complaint with me, my telephone number is [phone number here]. It is best to phone me between [add time].

Yours [sign here]

Last reviewed by Scope on: 23/12/2019

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