The Local Authority Social Services and National Health Service Complaints (England) Regulations 2009 dictate that complaints to be resolved by the Council follow a one stage process. If the complainant remains unhappy with the outcome of their complaint, they have the right to approach the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman who may choose to investigate their complaint.
Part of the statutory requirement is the production of an annual report on complaints, which is available to members of the public, our staff, and our elected Councillors.
This report contains information on complaints and other feedback received about Adult Social Care Services between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2021.
The Adult Social Care Complaints Procedure is administered by the Customer Relations Team, with oversight from the Customer Relations Manager. The complaints procedure and wider policy are available from the Customer Relations website.
Complaints should be regarded as an important tool and be performance monitored to ensure the Council can evidence that we are a learning organisation.
Compliments should also be valued and communicated effectively to staff. Good practice and learning should be disseminated. However, for reasons highlighted below compliments data is not available for this reporting period but will be made available for future reports.
The information in this report is provided in the following context: Due to the unprecedented situation in relation to Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the requirement for operational services within Devon County Council to redirect their resources to managing the crisis during the first response phase, and beyond, this impacted on the Council’s ability to deal with complaints.
In line with Ombudsman guidance, Devon County Council assessed individual complaints as they were received, and only accepted those that raised high risk or safeguarding matters. The County Council did not progress any other complaints between 31 March 2020 and 29 June 2020 which is reflected in the information recorded for Quarter 1 (Q1) throughout this report.
A complaint is defined as a written or verbal expression of dissatisfaction about the service provided by the Council. We aim to acknowledge complaints within three working days. The target date for response is agreed with the complainant on a case by case basis. Should the investigation proceed beyond the agreed timescale, we will advise the complainant of any delay.
If the complainant requires clarity of any of the points in their complaint response, following investigation, they can contact the person who responded to their complaint or the Customer Relations Team for further information.
The following information is based on all feedback that has been registered with the Customer Relations Team in the period 1st April 2020 to 31 March 2021.
The information is set against a base of 13,512 long term clients supported in the year and a Mid-Year Estimated Devon Population of 662,640 aged 18+ yrs.
The table below indicates the number of Adult Social Care Complaints received in 2020-2021.
|Adult Care Operations and Health (CHSC) – Eastern||9||12||11||14||46|
|Adult Care Operations and Health (CHSC) – Northern||5||4||3||12|
|Adult Care Operations and Health (CHSC) – Southern||3||8||9||4||24|
|Adult Care Operations and Health (CDP) – Eastern||1||1||3||5|
|Adult Care Operations and Health (CDP) – Northern||3||1||0||1||5|
|Adult Care Operations and Health (CDP) – Southern||1||1||2|
|Countywide Services – Autism and ADHD Service||3||3||2||1||9|
|Countywide Services – Charging for Care Services||3||1||5||3||12|
|Countywide Services – Court of Protection Team||1||1|
|Countywide Services – Specialist Placement Team||1||1||2|
|Countywide Services – Supported Living review Team||1||1||2|
|Adult Commissioning and Health – Commissioning||1||1|
|Adult Provision – Social Care Reablement||1||1||1||3|
|Exeternal Providers (Domiciliary Care)||1||1|
The table below indicates the number of Adult Social Care MP Enquiries in 2020- 2021.
|Adult Care Operations and Health (CHSC) – Eastern||3||2||11||9||25|
|Adult Care Operations and Health (CHSC) – Northern||1||1||4||1||7|
|Adult Care Operations and Health (CHSC) – Southern||1||1||2|
|Adult Care Operations and Health (CDP) – Eastern||1||1||1||3|
|Adult Care Operations and Health (CDP) – Northern||0|
|Adult Care Operations and Health (CDP) – Southern||1||1|
|Countywide Services – Autism and ADHD Service||1||1||2|
|Countywide Services – Care Direct||2||2|
|Countywide Services – Charging for Care Services||1||1||1||1||4|
|Adult Commissioning and Health – Adult Provision Reviews||1||1|
|Adult Provision – Social Care Reablement||2||2|
|Adult Provision – Dementia Care Homes (Mapleton)||1||1|
|External Providers – Residential Respite (Budlike Residential Home)||1||1|
The table below indicates the number of Adult Social Care Representations received in 2020-2021. A representation is a comment or concern that is not intended or eligible to be a formal complaint but requires a formal response.
|Adult Care Operations and Health – CHSC (Eastern)||3||1||2||6|
|Adult Care Operations and Health – CHSC (Northern)||3||3|
|Adult Care Operations and Health – CHSC (Southern)||1||1||2|
|Countywide Services (Court of Protection Team)||2||2|
|Countywide Services (Charging for Care Services)||3||2||5|
|Adult Commissioning and Health – Commissioning (Direct Payments Policy)||1||1|
|Adult Provision – Dementia Care Homes||1||1|
|Adult Provision – Residential Respite (New Treetops)||1||1|
|Adult Provision – Social Care Reablement||3||3|
Of the 125 complaints received regarding Adult Social Care in 2020-2021, 85 were closed; the table below details the number of complaints responded to in Quarter (Q) and percentage of those complaints that were either partially or fully upheld.
|Adult Care and Health complaint outcomes 2020-21||No responded to (Q1)||% upheld (Q1)||No responded to (Q2)||% upheld (Q2)||No responded to (Q3)||% upheld (Q3)||No responded to (Q4)||% upheld (Q4)||No responded to (YTD)||% upheld (YTD)|
|Adult Care Operations and Health – CHSC (Eastern)||5||0%||8||13%||7||29%||13||38%||33||24%|
|Adult Care Operations and Health – CHSC (Northern)||1||0%||3||33%||5||60%||2||50%||11||45%|
|Adult Care Operations and Health – CHSC (Southern)||4||50%||5||0%||3||33%||12||25%|
|Countywide Services (Autism and ADHD Service)||1||0%||3||100%||2||50%||6||67%|
|Countywide Services (Charging for Care Services)||1||100%||2||50%||5||80%||8||75%|
|Countywide Services – Court of Protection Team||1||0%||1||0%|
|Countywide Services – Specialist Placement Team||1||0%||1||100%||2||50%|
|Countywide Services – Supported Living Review Team||1||100%||1||100%|
|Adult Commissining and Health – Commissioning||1||100%||1||2||50%|
|External Providers – Domiciliary Care||0|
The following table summarises the response times for complaints across Adult Care and Health. The target date for response is agreed with the complainant on a case by case basis. It should be noted that the complaint regulations allow for a negotiation to the deadline for response to be made with the customer, and therefore all responses could realistically be made within time. 60% of responses were made in time throughout 2020-21.
|Adult Care and Health complaint response times 2020-21||No responded to (Q1)||% upheld (Q1)||No responded to (Q2)||% upheld (Q2)||No responded to (Q3)||% upheld (Q3)||No responded to (Q4)||% upheld (Q4)||No responded to (YTD)||% upheld (YTD)|
|Adult Care Operations and Health – CHSC – Eastern||5||0%||8||63%||7||100%||13||23%||33||45%|
|Adult Care Operations and Health – CHSC – Northern||1||0%||3||67%||5||40%||2||100%||11||55%|
|Adult Care Operations and Health – CHSC – Southern||4||25%||5||80%||3||67%||12||58%|
|HDT – Dawlish||1||100%||1||100%|
|Countywide Services – Autism and ADHD Service||1||100%||3||100%||2||50%||6||83%|
|Countywide Services – Charging for Care Services||1||100%||2||100%||5||100%||8||100%|
|Countywide Services – Court of Protection Team||1||0%||1||0%|
|Countywide Services – Specilaist Placement Team||1||100%||1||100%||2||100%|
|Countywide Services – Supported Living Review Team||1||100%||1||100%|
|Adult Commissioning and Health – Commissioning||1||100%||1||100%|
|Adult Provision – Social Care Reablement||1||100%||1||2||50%|
|External Providers – Domiciliary Care|
The most complained about issues in 2020-21 were Assessments and Reviews. There were 121 issues recorded, across 85 closed complaints and 71 of these issues related to Assessments and Reviews (59%).
The top root causes in relation to Assessments and Reviews were recorded as “quality of service provided” and “poor communication to customer”. Both of which represent 20 (17%) of the 121 issues. The “quality of service provided” and “poor communication to customer” represent 30% of issues that were upheld in 2020-21.
For every fully or partially upheld complaint the investigating officer completes an action plan, so that actions and wider learning are recorded and evidenced. The implementation of agreed actions is monitored and evidenced by the Customer Relations Team.
The table below highlights that there were 42 actions recorded as being required following the completion of complaints in 2020-21.
|Adult Social Care and Health action categories 2020-21||Number recorded|
|Arrange staff training or guidance||4|
|Change or review policy or operational procedure||1|
|Change or review service||2|
|Discuss at team meeting||1|
|Management action required||1|
|Performance management – staff member||3|
|Provide additional information||6|
|Provide additional service||2|
|Request action from contractor or partner||1|
Selected complaint issues and actions for upheld complaints.
Issue 1: I don’t know who my social worker is, and I was told that my case would be reallocated after encountering some very upsetting issues with X. I was also told that my son Y would have his case reallocated to the Learning Disability Team but it seems that hasn’t happened at all and X is still acting as his social worker despite putting into writing that she was transferring his case.
Response 1: I understand that X has continued to act as Y’s Social Worker in the short term, to progress your request for an increase in provision to support Y over the summer holiday period. The request for case transfer to the Exeter Health and Social Care Team who work with people with learning disability is now in progress. I am advised someone from this team will be available to start work with Y by the end of October.
I can confirm that X is still holding case responsibility for Y, however, this role will also transfer to Z as from the end of September. Following the case transfer to the new Social Workers a review of your own assessment, X and X’s assessment and the care and support plans will be undertaken. An advocate will be provided to support you during your own review as requested.
Action 1: To provide the named worker associated to the case and provide explanation.
Issue 2: This assessment has been submitted to court proceedings in evidence and my autistic learning disabled son was not contacted either before, during or after this assessment was carried out and it was done without his knowledge.
Response 2: I am sorry that it was necessary to submit information to the court before the adult assessment could be fully completed due to the timescales involved. I acknowledge that this was not ideal, however the status of the assessment was made clear to ensure the courts understanding of the position at the time.
Action 2: Apology and explanation. Also, confirmation that the review will be undertaken shortly.
Issue: Transfer of previous care plan into new without checking that the information was correct, or changing relevant information
Action: Apology given in response letter, liaise with the wider team to try to ensure this does not happen again.
Issue: Concerned that the 12-week property disregard has been unfairly applied.
Response: The 12-week property disregard has been applied in accordance with Devon County Council’s policies and procedures. In normal circumstances the period is not extended whilst someone is in hospital. Again, although I am satisfied the 12- week property disregard has been correctly applied, given the circumstances relating to X have also agreed to extend the 12-week property disregard to reflect the period she was admitted to hospital.
Action: I have also agreed to extend the 12-week property disregard to reflect the period X was admitted to hospital.
There were four complaints investigated by the Ombudsman in 2020-21. There were no complaints investigated in Q1 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In Q2, one complaint was investigated. This was upheld with maladministration and injustice. In Q3 two complaints were investigated, one being upheld with maladministration and injustice, the other not being upheld. In Q4 two complaints were investigated, both were upheld with maladministration and injustice. The complaint summaries, findings and agreed recommendations are available at Appendix 1.
Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman Recommendations for Complaints with Maladministration and Injustice 2020-21.
Mrs B complains about Mallands Residential Care Home (the Home), a care home acting on behalf of the Council. Mrs B complains the Home did not:
Mrs B says that as a result, Mrs D may have been left alone at the end of her life and she and her mother missed out on the opportunity to spend that time together. Mrs B says she has been unable to get closure on the death of her mother and what really happened at that time.
Mrs B would like a meaningful apology and a copy of the record for her mother’s last day at the Home.
The Ombudsman found no fault in the way the Home, acting on behalf of the Council, cared for Mrs D or its communication with Mrs B before Mrs D died. However, the Ombudsman found fault in the Home’s procedure, record keeping and communication with Mrs B after Mrs D died. As a result, the Council agreed to the Ombudsman’s following recommendation:
The Council will, within three months of my decision, send the Ombudsman and Mrs B an explanation of what it has done to ensure the Home has:
Ms X, complains the Council failed to deal properly with the assessment of her care needs and unreasonably stopped her personal budget, leaving her without any support.
It was Ms X’s decision to cancel support from the Support Provider in December 2017. Since then the only way to move forward has been to reassess her needs under the Care Act. The Ombudsman cannot find fault with the Trust for not giving Ms X a direct payment without first reassessing her needs. It needed to satisfy itself that a direct payment would be used to meet eligible care needs. The faults identified by the Ombudsman have added unnecessarily to Ms X’s distress. They have also contributed to the failure to complete an assessment of her social care needs. As a result, the Council agreed to the Ombudsman’s following recommendation:
Mr X complains the Council and its care provider, Agency Assistance, failed to deal properly with his return home on 20 April 2020, resulting in him being asked to pay for the Care Workers’ gloves and being told he would have to go back to a care home if he did not agree to pay.
The Ombudsman found that the Council did not handle Mr X’s concerns properly. On 20 April it told him it would check the position on paying for gloves but did not do so. On 27 April it discouraged Mr X from making a complaint. When the Council responded to Mr X’s complaint it told him he did not need to pay for gloves worn by Care Workers when providing care. But it did not address the question of whether that is what had happened. Nor did it consider whether other people may have been wrongly asked to pay for personal protective equipment. That is fault by the Council. It has caused injustice to Mr X by putting him to the time and trouble of pursing his complaint further. As a result, the Council agreed to the Ombudsman’s following recommendation:
Mr F complains on behalf of his mother, Mrs X. Mr F complains about the Council’s handling of Mrs X’s placement at Edenmore care home (The care home) from June 2018 which it arranged and commissioned. In particular Mr F complains
Mr F complained on behalf of his mother, Mrs X. Mr F complained about the Council’s handling of Mrs X’s placement at Edenmore Care home (the care home) which it arranged and commissioned. The Council was not fault for how it arranged Mrs X’s placement. There was also no fault in how the care home authorised Mrs X’s urgent Deprivation of Liberty Safeguard in April 2019. The care home failed to retain Mrs X’s medication records from July 2018 until March 2019.
This is fault. The Council agreed to apologise to Mr F for the uncertainty this caused him. I have not investigated Mr F’s complaints about the ongoing authorisation of Mrs X’s Deprivation of Liberty Safeguard or the Council’s best interest decision to keep Mrs X at the care home. This is because the Court of Protection is considering these matters.