15-minute care visits?
Despite national guidance that 15-minute care visits are ‘not usually appropriate’, amazingly the latest ombudsman’s investigation in Warrington was triggered by a complaint about visits that only lasted for three minutes.
The local government and social care ombudsman (LGSCO) deals with complaints about local authorities and care providers. Warrington Borough Council was found to have allocated 15-minute care calls to more than 300 people in the region, and in one case care workers had sometimes stayed for just three minutes, despite the family paying for the full visit.
Michael King, from the local government and social care ombudsman, said:
“At the heart of this investigation are people, often vulnerable, who rely on care visits to give them the dignity and quality of life they rightly deserve. We are increasingly looking at complaints from a human rights perspective – and councils need to consider the rights of service users to have a private life when commissioning or delivering care. Councils also need to make sure that the care they arrange is sufficient to meet people’s needs. When looking at visits which may require care workers to dress, wash or feed a person, 15-minutes is rarely enough.”
Complaints regarding most council services can be referred to the ombudsman if something has gone wrong with the way a service has been delivered, or if the service has not been delivered at all. The ombudsman can also consider whether the council has reached its decision in the right way. The LGSCO remedies injustice and shares learning from investigations to help improve public, and adult social care, services. In this case, Warrington Council agreed to pay the family £500 in respect of the distress they were put through.
If the LGSCO finds that the council or care provider has done something wrong, they will ask them to put things right. They don’t have the legal power to force them to comply, but they almost always do.
How do I complain?
If you feel you need to raise a complaint against your council or care provider, there is great information on the LGSCO website and you can also phone their helpline on 0300 061 0614, which is open Monday to Friday, 8:30am-5.00pm. They will then be able to advise whether your complaint is one that they can help with and confirm any steps you should take with the council before submitting your complaint, what information you should submit to help the LGSCO judge your case, and how long the process is likely to take.