People in Scotland are using better quality care services, and are also more confident about complaining when services do not meet expected standards.

That is the message from a report published today by Scotland’s social care scrutiny and improvement body, the Care Inspectorate.

The report shows that complaints about care services have increased over a five year period by about 45%, but also shows that during that time the quality of care overall has improved.

Karen Reid, chief executive of the Care Inspectorate said: “Care services operating in Scotland must be registered with the Care Inspectorate. We are responsible for registering and inspecting almost 14,000 care services, ensuring that standards are high and supporting improvement where necessary.

“We know from our inspections that the majority of care services in Scotland perform well and that the quality of care is good or better in the overwhelming majority of services.

“Our complaints procedure allows people who use services, their friends, families and others, to raise concerns they have when things are not as good as they should be. We use our complaints procedure to help us support services to improve wherever possible and that enables us to ensure people in Scotland continue to receive high quality, safe and compassionate care.”

The report presents a range of statistical information from complaints about care services over the past five years. The volume of complaints received over that period has increased from 2,800 received in 2011/12 to 4,086 in 2015/16. Over the same period, the quality of care overall has improved, with the percentage of services achieving grades of good or better for all quality themes increasing from 85% to 88%.

Karen Reid added: “Whilst we would encourage anyone with a concern about care to raise it directly with the service in the first instance, where possible, the increase in complaints received by us most likely reflects an increasing awareness of the Care Inspectorate’s role in investigating complaints. It also shows that our efforts to encourage people to report concerns are helping people feel more confident to come to us with issues.

“We take all concerns brought to us seriously and consider information given to us carefully. Where we uphold complaints we work closely with services to support improvement. Our focus in all areas of our work, including complaints, is on improving quality of care and outcomes for people who use care services. We do this both in the course of the investigation as well as using the intelligence from complaint investigations to help us better target problem areas.

“Complaints can be made in writing, through our website, or by telephone through our contact centre. Complainants can opt to remain anonymous if they wish. When someone makes a complaint, they can choose to remain completely anonymous.

“Everyone in Scotland has the right to safe, compassionate care which meets their needs and respects their rights. Anyone with a concern can contact us, anonymously if necessary, by calling 0345 600 9527.”

Download a copy of the report here