An investigation has found that relatives of care home residents are being excluded from accessing the homes where their relatives are cared for after raising formal complaints against the home. On some occasions care homes have even removed residents entirely from the home following complaints made.
On rare occasions this practice has been the result of a single complaint but it appears as though the majority of occasions involve a relative who makes repeated complaints about the quality of care provided. It is not clear from the investigation the precise number of individuals that were contacted to reach these findings: however it is clear that homes who adopt such an unhelpful approach to the handling of complaints give the impression to relatives, residents and the wider public that they are not duly considering complaints in line with best practice.
The counter argument to this debate recognises that, for some relatives, even the highest quality of care will never be considered sufficient. There will be occasions where the standard of care provided falls below the acceptable standard and in these instances complaints should be dealt with in a fair and transparent manner; there will also be times where relatives are causing a nuisance to the daily running of the care home in question. The home in question would need to carefully balance this apparent nuisance against the welfare of the resident which may result in the need to arrange relative meetings offsite.
Without empirical evidence which goes beyond this particular investigation there is no way of knowing the extent of the practice within care homes in this country. There have been calls made by leaders in the sector to apply pressure on CQC to add an assessment of a services’ handling of complaints with an emphasis on the exclusion of relatives.