Complaints about care services see increase of 85% in decade, says Care Inspectorate

Complaints about care services reached a 10-year high last year – with complaints about homes for older people making up more than two fifths of them.

The latest report from the Care Inspectorate showed it received a total of 5,910 complaints in 2022-23 – an increase of 85% from the 3,185 complaints received in 2012-13.

Looking at the past four years, the inspectorate said: “The largest number of complaints we received over the four-year period were about care homes.”

While care homes make up just 12% of Scotland’s 11,2791 registered care services, they accounted for 50% of the total complaints received over the period April 2019 to April 2023.

Overall, a total of 10,908 complaints about care homes for older people were received during this time, the report noted.

In 2022-23 alone, there were 2,409 complaints concerning care homes for older people – with these making up 41% of all complaints received by the inspectorate last year.

At least one complaint was made about nearly three quarters (74%) of the 790 car homes for older people registered with the inspectorate last year.

The report said: “As with previous years, specific healthcare issues such as nutrition, medication, hydration, tissue viability, continence care and inadequate care and treatment were the most frequent types of complaints upheld about care homes for older people this year.”

The inspectorate conducted an investigation into at least one complaint in almost a third (31%) of homes for older people in 2022-23 – with the report noting that a complaint was upheld against 28% of homes.

The report continued: “Of the care homes for older people that had a complaint upheld in 2022-23, 68% had one upheld complaint, 21% had two upheld complaints, and the remaining 12% had three or more upheld complaints during the year.”

Private sector care homes had the highest rates of complaints received and upheld last year, with the inspectorate’s report revealing at least one complaint was received about 79% of private sector care homes, with a complaint upheld against a third (33%) of them.

Almost half (47%) of all complaints made about care homes were made by the family of those living in them, or their carers.

In contrast only 2% of all complaints came from the service users themselves, compared to just over 8% for all other types of care services.

Of the 5,910 complaints that the inspectorate received against all care services – including childminders, children’s nurseries and care at home services – in 2022-23, a total of 23% were revoked.

In 52% of cases the information given to the inspectorate was used to support improvements, while in almost one in five cases (19%) the issue was resolved quickly by the service provider directly.

Nearly one in 10 complaints (9%) resulted in an investigation by the service provider, using their own complaints procedures, while almost a fifth (19%) were deemed as high risk, and were investigated directly by the Care Inspectorate.

Jackie Irvine, chief executive of the Care Inspectorate, said: “It is important that people can resolve any issues they may have with the care they experience, whether this is by contacting the Care Inspectorate, or by raising it directly with their care service.

“Our focus in all areas of our work, including complaints, is on improving the quality of care and outcomes for people who experience care.

“We do this by resolving complaints quickly and using all the intelligence we gather to focus our inspections as well as the wider scrutiny, assurance and improvement support work we carry out across all care services.

Ms Irvine added: “Everyone in Scotland has the right to good quality care that meets their needs and respects their rights.

“Anyone with a complaint about a care service can contact us on 0345 600 9527.”

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