As the LGO publishes complaints statistics on all English adult social care providers for first time, Andy Kaye, Head of Policy at at Independent Age, said:
“The fact 40% of the care complaints the Local Government Ombudsman dealt with in 2013 related to just 25 council areas is perhaps the most revealing aspect of today’s set of statistics. Looking at the ten council areas where the Ombudsman received the highest percentage of complaints, it is depressing, but perhaps unsurprising, that many of these councils performed poorly in our 2013 research on unfair top-up payments in residential care.
“The 2,456 complaints the Ombudsman received appears low when we consider there are 1.3 million users of adult social care in England, but we suspect the complaints being reported today are just the tip of the iceberg. Every working day, Independent Age receives one call from families concerned about being asked to pay a top-up for residential care that really should be free.
“We must never forget that making a complaint can feel daunting, especially when you are in residential care and you have concerns about the home you are living in.
“The report out today highlights the extent to which complaints about fees and charges, and residential care in general, are going up. We need the government to tackle the root cause of these complaints and strengthen the rules protecting relatives of the poorest pensioners from having to pay top-up fees they can scarcely afford.
“The Care Act looks set to increase the numbers of older people coming into contact with councils, so to minimise the risk of future complaints, local authorities need to take action now to make sure service users only pay the fees and charges they really need to pay when they enter residential care”.