New powers have come into force for the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) to investigate complaints from people who arrange their own care.
New powers have come into force for the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) to investigate complaints from people who arrange their own care. For the first time, these ‘self-funders’ will have the right to complain to an independent and impartial Ombudsman.
The LGO’s new role means that adults who arrange and pay for their own care, or have a personalised budget, will have the same access to the independent complaints service as those people who have had their care arranged and funded by local authorities, which the LGO has dealt with for more than 35 years. The Health Act 2009 amended the Local Government Act 1974 to give the LGO service its new powers from 1 October 2010.
Local Government Ombudsman, Tony Redmond, said:
“Until now, the only form of redress for people in privately funded care was through the care provider’s own complaints procedure or going to court. From today, if service users, a member of their family or others affected by the service have suffered an injustice, we may be able to help. In most cases we will only consider a complaint once the care provider has had a fair opportunity to put the situation right.”
Care Services Minister Paul Burstow said:
“Everyone should be guaranteed good quality care and dignity however their care is funded.
"For the first time ever, people who fund their own social care will have access to independent consideration of their complaints just like people whose care is funded by local councils.
“It will offer an independent route for those who have concerns to take action.”
The new powers will allow the LGO to investigate complaints about services that are registered under the new Care Quality Commission essential standards that also came into force on 1 October 2010.
The types of complaints the LGO is expecting to deal with cover a variety of services such as needs assessments, poor care quality and fees and charges from care homes, personal care at home and supported living services.
“We recognise the diversity of the independent care sector and the complexity of its relationships with regulators and service commissioners, but we are confident our experience over many years will enable us to deal with these complaints in the same professional manner,” said the Ombudsman.
“Our new and existing powers combined will enable us to deal effectively with complaints that involve the actions of both local authorities and care providers,” he added.
The LGO will seek to highlight good practice in complaint handling and to identify any general learning from the cases received that may help improve services more widely.
The LGO provides a free service in England. The Ombudsmen have the powers of the High Court to gather information and then act to resolve justified complaints in a way that is fair to everyone involved.
For more information about the service visit www.lgo.org.uk/adult-social-care/ or contact the LGO Advice Team on 0300 061 0614.
Article date: 04 October 2010