Families feel “frustrated and scared” when they try to complain about home care, says a report.
Families who use home care companies say making complaints is “difficult and frustrating” and any issues raised are sometimes ignored.
Relatives say there is often a lack of information about how to complain, some feel scared about sharing concerns and they have difficulty contacting providers.
Healthwatch, an independent body which helps influence and improve how services are designed and run, has gathered the views of families who use home carers.
One person told Healthwatch: “After I spoke to the Care Quality Commission they told me to ask the care agency to send me their complaints procedure. I have done this three times now and they still haven’t sent it to me. I’m not going to bother asking again.”
When Healthwatch briefly checked the websites of 16 home care providers on Sheffield Council’s recommended list, it couldn’t find information about how to make a complaint on any of the websites.
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Healthwatch said: “People told us that making a complaint or raising a concern with care providers can be difficult and frustrating because of a lack of information about how to complain, feeling scared about sharing concerns and difficulty contacting providers.
“There is a lack of opportunities for families to give feedback and difficulty making complaints.
“Families would like to be asked for feedback and for this to be followed up, but there is a lack of consistency in care providers asking for regular feedback.
“This may mean that they feel making a complaint is the only way to give negative feedback and providers may be less aware of what is working well.
“Additionally, some families reported that providers had not responded to their attempts to complain and making a complaint didn’t always lead to a satisfactory change.”
Healthwatch says complaining to Sheffield Council is also difficult. “The phone involves using the main enquiries number and there isn’t a designated option in the main menu.
“Complaints via the council’s website involves several stages of entering personal details before feedback or complaints can be detailed, and there is no option to remain anonymous.”
Home care user Beth said she didn’t give up when her situation didn’t change after making a complaint.
“Lots of people are scared about rocking the boat so won’t say anything. Friends just go along with the system because they are scared they will lose their support,” she said.
“My local complaint was upheld but nothing happened so I went to Local Government and Adult Social Care Ombudsman, as well as the Parliamentary and Health Ombudsman.
“They were really concerned and helpful and they upheld my complaint. I partially took out the case because of the others who can’t communicate their concerns.”
Families say they want to be able to complain to an independent person who doesn’t work for the council or the home care provider and they would like a forum where people can give feedback and check whether other people are having similar experiences.
The full report can be read here: