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Local authority social care should ‘amplify the vulnerable and voiceless’

Releasing the latest annual review of adult care services, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman says services should focus on the vulnerable and voiceless.

26/09/23

Local authority social care should ‘amplify the vulnerable and voiceless’

The Ombudsman’s annual review of Adult Social Care reflects on the investigations the organisation has conducted over the past 12 months across both public and independently-funded care.

In the report, Ombudsman Paul Najsarek is urging leaders to rigorously scrutinise those services provided to people who might otherwise be hidden in society to ensure they are performing well for those who may be unable to speak up for themselves.

The report highlights key cases from the past year, including an autistic man who was not provided with an advocate when assessing the support he needed, in another case a council was found to not have done enough to support a woman and her children who were fleeing threats of violence.

Read more: https://www.socialworktoday.co.uk/News/Council-%22did-not-do-enough%22-to-support-woman-fleeing-violence%2C-Ombudsman-says

And in another case, more than 300 people in one north western borough were being provided with care calls lasting less than 15 minutes – hardly enough time to provide the dignified care they were assessed as needing.

The review calls on the sector to listen to concerns and complaints – and use this intelligence to drive positive, cost-effective changes.

Now in its tenth year, the 2023 report sees the Ombudsman upholding three-quarters of the investigations it carries out in detail. However, complaints received have levelled off in recent years and the Ombudsman is pressing for care providers to up their game by including details about complaining to LGSCO in their policies and procedures.

The report also highlights areas of adult care where the Ombudsman cannot investigate, for example in daycare centres. It is calling for these ‘accountability gaps’ to be closed by extending its jurisdiction to all settings, thereby allowing a route to redress for people if things go wrong wherever their care is provided. The report also renews the Ombudsman’s call for all adult care providers to be required by law to signpost clients to its service.

Paul Najsarek, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman urged senior leaders to “give voice to the voiceless: those who cannot complain for themselves because they are unsupported, isolated or simply lack the capacity to do so.”

“Where these vulnerable people are hidden from view, it is all the more important that leaders scrutinise the services they receive to shine a light on how they perform for the people they are meant to support. Putting people’s lived experiences at the heart of services should ensure they remain person-centred, despite the challenging climate.

“I encourage providers of care – however funded – to focus on the fundamentals: providing good quality, safe services with well-run complaint functions which identify opportunities to improve where challenges arise.”

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