If you feel that a home or live-in carer is not fulfilling their role properly, their behaviour is unsatisfactory, or worse that you suspect theft or that your elderly relatives’ safety is at risk, you have every right to make a formal complaint. In this guide, we will talk you through what to do if you’re having problems with care, how to complain about carers and how the homecare complaints procedure works.
Homecare complaints you might have
There are a variety of problems that may constitute formally filing a complaint. This can range from regularly arriving late or leaving early, but may also extend to more serious offences such as theft or abuse. The following is a non-exhuastive list of examples of situations that might lead to a complaint.
- A carer frequently arriving late or leaving early
- Leaving the house in a worse condition than when they arrived
- Poor quality of personal care, dressing incorrectly or not washing regularly
- Administering medicines incorrectly
- Discriminatory actions or remarks
- Any form of elder abuse
If you think that an elderly relative might be receiving sub-standard care, you should look into the carer complaints procedure below. If it’s something like poor timekeeping or cleanliness, start with the carer themselves if possible – this might make for the quickest and easiest resolution. If you need to escalate, follow the steps below.
How to Complain About a Carer
Who can make a complaint about a Carer?
Either the elderly relative who is receiving the care, or you as a family member or friend, can launch a complaint about the quality of their homecare. If you choose to enter into a complaints procedure on an older person’s behalf, you must only do so with their consent.
1. Complaining to your Local Council or Private Care Company about a Carer
The first step in resolving a problem with the homecare your elderly relative is receiving is to talk directly with the provider of the care. If your relative gets their care through their local council, they will have a director or head of department who you can contact, or a clear complaints procedure in place for you to follow. If the live-in care or homecare is provided by a private care provider or agency, they are who you should launch your complaint with. Visit the provider’s website or call them directly, stating that you wish to make a complaint. Often they will have a team to help you to resolve any issues.
In most cases, your homecare provider will work with you to resolve any complaints or problems that you are having. We have collected some top tips to help you through the complaints process.
There may be a time limit from an incident that a provider might accept a complaint. Is it also best to address a problem early while it is fresh in the mind
Be clear and brief
Explain exactly what the problem is, when it happened, and how you would like to see it resolved. Don't feel like you have to write an essay - they will ask if they require more information.
Address it properly
Make sure that you are talking to the right person in the right company and state explicitly that you wish to enter into a complaints procedure
Supply relevant evidence
Provide copies of all the relevant evidence, making sure to keep the original documents yourself.
Do it in writing
Where possible, complain and correspond in writing - either via email or letters. If you call, make a note of when you did and who you spoke to, and ask for written confirmation from the company.
Be polite in your correspondence and supply all the contact information they need to be able to get a hold of you. Respond in a timely manner. Complaints procedures can take some time but don't be afraid to chase politely if it is taking too long. It should take less than 12 weeks to complete. In the case that you fear abuse is taking place, take the necessary steps to immediately reduce the contact that a carer in question has with your relative.
Get support and advice
Ask your local Citizen's Advice Bureau for support and advice through any complaints with live-in or homecare
2. Complaining to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman about a Carer
If an issue is not resolved directly with the care provider then the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman will be your next complaints option. The Ombudsman is a tax-funded service that looks into adult social care complaints for both council and private services and is different from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) as they look into individual complaints and not providers as a whole.
The Ombudsman will only look into a complaint after you have attempted to resolve a problem directly with a homecare provider, and have completed a complaints procedure. In some circumstances they might be able to review your complaint if it has taken longer that 12 weeks to complete or if the provider is not cooperating. It is at the Ombudsman’s discretion as to whether they look into your complaint further and you must submit a complaint within 12 months of becoming aware of the issue.
You can submit a request on behalf of someone else (with their permission) and you must do so by completing the online form on the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman website. For those unable to use the internet or complete a form online, call their helpline 0300 061 0614.
When you complain you will have to give them all the details of the issue again, as you did with the provider directly, and explain why you are dissatisfied with the provider’s response. You will also need to supply them with the last letter/email you got from the homecare provider with respects to your complaint.
How to Deal with Theft or Abuse from a Carer
If your elderly relative is subject to theft or abuse from a carer it is imperative to act quickly and effectively to remove the carer and to alert the relevant authorities. First, contact the provider and alert them to the issue. Live-in /homecare providers/agencies and local councils take elder abuse very seriously and will quickly remove the carer while an investigation takes place.
For more information on how to spot elder abuse, how to report it and where to find support visit our page on complaints and abuse.
You can also call Hourglass’ confidential helpline – 0800 808 8141 – if you are worried that someone you care for might be a victim of elder abuse. If you have strong evidence that a carer has abused your relative, get the police involved.
Especially for older people living with dementia, working and living with a carer can sometimes be unsettling. It is not uncommon for a relative to be paranoid that a carer is stealing from them and to push a complaint without grounds.
"It was all quite embarrassing to be honest - she lost her engagement ring and was convinced one of her night carers had taken it. It turned up in the pocket of a jacket."
Sometimes taking a step back can be beneficial before diving into a complaint procedure straight away.
Getting Support When Making a Complaint about a Carer
If you would like help or support through the complaints procedure, Age UK and Citizen’s Advice are two great options.
Age UK are a national support for elderly people and operate a free, 7-day-a-week advice line for anything relating to elderly care support, including making homecare complaints. Call 0800 169 65 65 from 7am-8pm.
The Citizen’s Advice Bureau operate free local advice centres for the public focusing on legal and financial advice. Go to their website to find your nearest centre or call 0344 411 1444.