Scotland's social care watchdog says people across the country are more aware than ever of their rights when it comes to complaining about services.

The regulator, which scrutinises care services including care homes, nurseries and other vital services across Scotland, also investigates complaints and has powers to require poorly performing services to improve.

In the past year, the Care Inspectorate received 3,172 complaints about care, a rise of 28.2% compared to the 2,475 received by its predecessor body in 2008/9.

The Care Inspectorate says the rise in complaints shows more people are able to raise concerns and know how to do so.

The watchdog stressed that while complaints have risen, the number of services found to be performing well was also on the rise.

Annette Bruton, the Care Inspectorate's chief executive said: "We know that the overwhelming majority of the services we regulate perform well.

"Our specialist inspectors rate more than 80% as good, very good or excellent and we want to see that standard improve further.

"To drive improvement, it is vitally important that people know what to do when they feel the care they or their loved ones receive is below what is acceptable.

"We take all complaints very seriously and every concern raised with us is fully investigated.

"Everyone in Scotland has the right to safe, compassionate, good quality care which meets their needs and respects their rights.

"Where there are concerns we don't hesitate to take action so that services improve.

"Since 2011, we have seen a rise in the number of complaints about care services.

"But this does not necessarily mean that care in Scotland is getting worse. 

"Indeed, between March 2011 and March 2013, the percentage of services graded good, very good, or excellent rose from 82% to 86%."

The Care Inspectorate actively promotes its complaints function so that people who receive care and their loved ones know what to do when care is not as good as it should be.

Intelligence from complaints is also used by the Care Inspectorate to plan inspections and target scrutiny towards services causing concern.

Notes to editors: 

The full statistical report is available here: http://cinsp.in/1lnVjcF

Anyone can raise a concern about a care service by contacting the Care Inspectorate, anonymously if necessary on 0345 600 9527.