Under the Care Homes Regulations 2001, care homes are required to establish complaints procedures for service users or persons acting on their behalf. The regulations apply equally to homes run by all providers, including local authorities, private companies or individuals, voluntary organisations and the national health service.
The national minimum standards (NMS) for care homes, which are available in the Library, include specific requirements for homes to have complaints procedures for service users, relatives and friends. The Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) must take the NMS into account when inspecting care homes to ensure that they comply with the Care Standards Act 2000.
Details of complaints procedures should be supplied to all service users, or those acting on their behalf if requested. Complaints procedures must be simple, clear and accessible and appropriate to service users' needs. Complaints should be responded to within a maximum of 28 days and detailed records should be kept, which should include details of investigations and any action taken.
Service users whose care is arranged by their local authority (LA) are also entitled to pursue complaints about the way the LA has fulfilled its function regarding the provision of services to meet the needs of the individual via the LA's complaints procedure.
All service users and their representatives have a further right to refer matters to CSCI and then to the parliamentary ombudsman for further investigation if they are not satisfied with the way their complaints are dealt with.