The Care Inspectorate today welcomed the results of research it commissioned on its complaints process. The care watchdog received 3234 complaints about care services last year, of which 1763 were registered as formal complaints and investigated. 

In order to ensure that investigating complaints has the best possible impact on the outcomes for people using care services, the Care Inspectorate asked specialist researchers from the University of Stirling and Queen Margaret University to establish clearly the extent to which an upheld complaint can help improve quality of care, and reflect on whether there is anything further the inspectorate can do to ensure it does improve it. 

Annette Bruton, Chief Executive of the Care Inspectorate, said:

“Not every thing in every care service goes right. When there are problems, we strongly encourage people speak direct with staff and managers in the care service.  When that doesn’t work, or in very serious cases, the Care Inspectorate plays an important role. Our inspectors have the power to investigate complaints – anonymously if necessary – and demand improvements where they are needed. 

“A complaint, whether it is upheld or not, should be a key learning moment for a care service: upheld, changes must be made; not upheld, it is important to still reflect on why the complaint was made in the first place.

“This research was designed to look at the links between the complaints we uphold and the outcomes that has for people using care services. I am delighted that the research gives such a strong vote of confidence to the work of the Care Inspectorate and our power to make unannounced visits to investigate complaints. 

“It also shows the need that we, as the regulator, need to do more to ensure that the improvements we demand after a complaint is upheld are sustained, embedded and – crucially – reported on for all people involved to see. 

“I would like to thank the researchers from the University of Stirling and Queen Margaret University – and the complainants and service providers who kindly gave their time and shared their experiences for this important study. 

The report was completed during the summer of 2013 and discussed by the Care Inspectorate board in September 2013. You can find a copy here.