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Residential and Care Homes

November 19, 2009

If your residential/nursing home is poorly run, you are mistreated, or the facilities are intolerable, you can make a complaint.

Who do you complain to?

Local authorities and health authorities are currently responsible for residential or nursing homes – who you should complain to depends on the nature of your complaint.

Residential Homes

Complaints about care homes run by the local authority (LA) should be directed to its social services department.

Registered residential care homes – voluntary or private-sector homes providing care services with financial support from the LA – are legally obliged to have their own ‘in-house’ complaints procedure. Complaints about care services in these types of home should first be directed to the management of the home in question.

If you are still unhappy after the internal complaints procedure of the service provider, or if for some reason you do not wish to complain to them, you can then refer your case to the social services department.

You can also complain to the local authority in its capacity as the registering authority if you think the home may have broken the terms of the registration, although registering authorities are not obliged to investigate residents’ complaints.

Complaints about the accommodation and service in private residential care homes should similarly be directed to the management of the home.

Nursing homes

If you are a resident of a nursing home and your medical care is being funded by the NHS you can use the NHS complaints procedure.

If you have been placed in a nursing home by social services you can also use their complaints procedure.

Complaints about nursing homes made to social services departments will be copied to the health authority registration officer responsible for registration and inspection of the home. Either or both of the authorities will then investigate the complaint, or different aspects of the complaint, in liaison with each other. You can also complain directly to the local health authority in its capacity as registration authority if you think a nursing home may have broken the terms of its registration.

What will happen if you complaint is successful?

If your complaint is upheld, the problem will be remedied to your satisfaction. If the complaint is particularly serious it may have a bearing on whether the home retains its licence (and therefore its right to stay open).

Anything else you can do?

If you are unhappy with the way the LA handled your complaint – and while residential homes remain under the jurisdiction of local authorities – you can contact the local government ombudsman.