Understanding and challenging decisions

Awareness and understanding of how social care operates is very low and for many people the first time they come across the system is when they, or a family member, develops an urgent care need. We know from calls to our Helpline that people find the system incredibly complicated to navigate and often require significant support to work out what they need to do. We frequently hear from adult children who are trying to support older parents to access care because they have become stuck and need help interpreting the information they have been given by their local council. If understanding social care is difficult, even for those with family members dedicating huge amounts of time to support, it is harder still for those without family to support and advocate for them. 

In addition, we are concerned that it is difficult for people to effectively challenge decisions made about their care and support. In the majority of councils, people have to use a complaints procedure, which in our view is not fit for purpose. Local authorities are required to respond to a complaint within six months, but in reality it can take much longer than this, creating significant stress and worry for older people and their families.

The language of ‘complaints’ and its negative connotations can also be off putting. From calls to our Helpline, we know many older people are not comfortable with the idea of complaining. Many do not feel it is an appropriate response to wanting decisions made about their care and support to be reviewed.  

The high proportion of complaints being upheld by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman also suggests that issues are not being dealt with effectively through current complaints procedures. The Government has previously acknowledged the importance of a robust appeals system for adult social care and consulted on this in 2015, but no response to the consultation was ever published.

Our policy calls:

  • Councils must take seriously their duties under the Care Act to provide clear, actionable information and advice to everyone who needs it, including self-funders.  
  • Government should implement a statutory appeals process for adult social care, as already outlined in the Care Act. As a first step, they should re-open the consultation on an appeals process for adult social care.

Care home quality

We believe all older people are entitled to access high quality care. Our briefings below outline the state of care quality in residential care in three consecutive years.

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