Following on from my last two articles Always Read the Small Print – Part 1 Choosing a Care Home and Always Read the Small Print Part 2 Additional Information, Part 3 looks at the service level you should expect from your carers and what you can do if things go wrong.
Knowing your rights can also help ensure you or your loved one are fairly treated and protected if things go wrong.
Level of service
The care provider’s staff must act with reasonable care and skill and provide the service they said they would. If they don’t, you may be able to claim compensation for breach of contract.
E.g. 1 They must ensure that the care home’s buildings and equipment are suitable and safe, and you must be treated with dignity and respect.
E.g. 2 If they claim to provide a particular type of care (such as palliative care), they should do so competently.
What can you do if something goes wrong?
You always have the right to complain about your care or how you’re being treated. Clearly it is always best to try and deal with these issues quickly and informally wherever possible. However, if that is not possible then you may need to use a formal procedure.
The care providers procedure for dealing with complaints must be in writing and should:
- Be easy to find on their website, in their service guide and in the care home itself.
- Be easy to understand and use, and clearly explain what concerns and issues it covers.
- Be available in different languages (so far as possible) and formats such as large print, braille and audio.
- Set out clear and reasonable timescales if a complaint requires further investigation.
- Protect your anonymity (as far as possible).
- Explain how you can escalate your complaint to someone more senior in the care organisation if you don’t think it has been dealt with properly.
- Explain where you can go (for example, to the Ombudsman, or the Care Inspectorate in Scotland) if you’re unhappy with how the care home has dealt with your complaint.
The care provider must make it easy for you to complain and deal with your complaint quickly and fairly:
- They should direct you to people who may be able to support and assist you, such as advocacy, interpreter and advice services.
- The staff at your care home must never discourage you from making a complaint. They must not threaten to restrict or ban your visitors or ask you to leave if you make a complaint.
As a resident of a care home you also have consumer rights.
Care homes which don’t meet their obligations might be in breach of consumer law and could face enforcement action by local Trading Standards Services or the Competing and Markets Authority.
If you don’t think you are being treated fairly, or think a care home is breaking consumer law, you can contact the Citizens Advice national consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06 (or contact 03454 04 05 05 to speak with a Welsh-speaking advisor), or visit the Citizens Advice website. As well as giving you advice, the consumer helpline can pass information about complaints on to Trading Standards. In Northern Ireland, you can contact Consumerline on 0300 123 6262, or visit the Consumerline website.
You also have other protections relating to safety and standards of care, which are enforced by the following national regulators who are responsible for inspecting care providers:
- England: Age UK, Independent Age, the Relatives & Residents Association
- Wales: Age Cymru, Citizens Advice Cymru
- Scotland: Care Information Scotland, Age Scotland, Citizens Advice Scotland
- Northern Ireland: Age NI, Citizens Advice Northern Ireland
Or please contact us here for further advice and information on how we can support you and your family.