Lee Henley, Strategic Lead, Information Management presented the Annual Adult Social Care Complaints report covering the period 1 April 2019 to the 31 March 2020. Members were referred to the Appendix which summarised the representations received for this period.
Councillor Muldowney questioned whether the number of complaint and compliment responses received were down due to COVID and whether the concerns raised at the last meeting that residents still felt that services would be taken away from them if they made complaints had been addressed. Lee Henley stated that the drop in the number was not COVID related as this report was for the period that ended March 2020. Lee Henley stated that the drop in compliments may be due to these not being sent to the complaints team for logging onto the system. In relation to the drop in complaints, this was despite the complaints team linking in with internal teams and writing to commissioned providers to ensure complaints were being captured and sent to the complaints team. Lee Henley stated leaflets were being provided to commissioned providers to put up in care homes, in order to provide information to individuals on how to complain.
The Chair asked how easy it was for someone to make a complaint. Lee Henley stated the process was easy with different channels that people could use to make complaints such as telephone, email or letter and stated that anything that met the definition of a complaint would be dealt with as a complaint. Roger Harris reassured members from a service point of view that complaints were taken very seriously and was included as part of the induction of all staff, leaflets were provided for care homes and the complainants confidentiality was protected at all stages. There may be incidents where service users may feel vulnerable and worried if they were to make a complaint they may lose their services and although there was no evidence to support this, Lee Henley’s team would be used as the team was independent from adult social care who would give an element of confidentiality and independence. Service users were also encouraged to use advocates, HealthWatch and other numerous channels that service users could raise complaints. Roger Harris stated that receiving more complaints would be a good thing as this would help with complacency, learning and an opportunity to change the way services work.
Councillor Redsell stated this was a good report and questioned whether the “not available” or “not applicable” comments on the report were due to COVID. Roger Harris reminded members that this report covered the period up to the 31 March 2020 with a very limited period that would overlap with COVID.
Councillor Holloway stated that vulnerable people may still have concerns on the repercussions of making a complaint and questioned how the different means of reporting a complaint would reassure that person. As that person may think that complaints submitted, in whatever format, would have repercussions. Roger Harris stated that there were numerous channels outside the direct service provision where complaints could be made. Complaints could be made directly to Lee Henley’s team, through the Council or HealthWatch and encouraged service users to use those opportunities outside their direct care setting. Councillor Holloway hoped that the low numbers reflected the good work that the Council was doing.
Kim James stated that HealthWatch received calls through service users who were concerned about making formal complaints. For those service users who did not wish to make a formal complaint were directed to the monitoring teams and their situation explained. There was still a need for HealthWatch to link in with Lee Henley’s team to ensure any complaints received via HealthWatch were captured by that team. Lee Henley and Kim James agreed to talk further outside of this meeting.
Councillor Massey thanked Officers for the report and stated it was good that the number of complaints was down apart from one area and questioned whether there were any common factors with these complaints. Councillor Massey also asked whether in future reports the service areas would be shown for compliments from previous years. Lee Henley stated that this was still a low number of complaints received throughout the year and noted Councillor Massey request for compliments data to capture previous years data.
That Health and Wellbeing Overview and Scrutiny Committee considered and noted the report.