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If you have a complaint about the social care you have received or want to make an appeal about a decision regarding your care, you have certain rights, which are explained below.

You may want to complain because:

  • the local authority has assessed you as not needing a service but you believe you need it
  • there have been delays or errors in dealing with your case
  • the services arranged for you are not meeting your needs
  • you’re being asked to wait a long time for equipment or adaptations

First steps

Firstly, you should try to resolve the problem by having an informal conversation about it with your local social services department. You should have been given the name of somebody to talk to if you have a problem. If you’re not happy with the outcome, ask for a copy of your local authority’s formal complaints procedure. Each local authority must have one and make it available to the public. You can also inform the Care Quality Commission, which regulates social care services in England. While they can’t help you directly, they may decide to investigate the care provider or enforce changes as a result.

What next?

If you’re unhappy with the outcome of the complaints procedure carried out by your local authority, you can go to the Local Government Ombudsman. You have the right to have your views and wishes respected and to be treated with dignity at all times.

If you experience any kind of mistreatment by someone who is caring for you, you can contact Age UK or call the Action on Elder Abuse confidential helpline to discuss the situation. You can also contact your local authority, which has a duty to follow up concerns.

If your care is provided by an independent agency on behalf of the council, you can still complain to the council about any difficulties, as the council remains responsible for making sure you receive suitable care.

There are also new rights of complaint for self-funders of care services. If you fund your own care and you need to make a complaint, contact the Local Government Ombudsman and ask about its independent complaints review service.

If you have concerns about a registered provider of a social care service, report it to the Care Quality Commission.

Further information

The factsheet How to resolve problems and complain about social care (PDF 228KB) to resolve problems and make a complaint about the local authority explains the new joint health and social care complaints procedure. It also outlines other ways of resolving problems and making complaints, and provides information on your rights.

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