Complaints about adult social care in Sunderland rise by 59%

Complaints to Sunderland City Council (SCC) about adult social care have risen by 59% compared to the same period last year, new figures reveal.

Wednesday, 27th June 2018, 3:03 pm
Updated Wednesday, 27th June 2018, 3:08 pm

SCC’s ‘annual report on compliments and complaints’ outlines complaints between April 2017 and March 2018 for both corporate issues and adult social care.

According to the latest figures, adult services received 137 complaints over the period – a 59 per cent increase from 86 complaints the previous year.

The largest amount of complaints were for staff “actions” with a 60 per cent increase in complaints from 28 to 45.

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But the most complained about service area included older persons and physical disability teams, which was 47 for both 2016/17 and 2017/18.

Rises in occupational therapy complaints – from 16 to 38 – were linked to delays in assessing for Blue Badges, a report states, with SCC employing two extra staff for six months to tackle demand.

In 2017/18, SCC also received 8457 ‘stage one’ corporate complaints marking a rise of 52 per cent on the previous year’s figure of 5563.

This is the first step in the complaints process and if customers remain dissatisfied with their response, they can request a review under a ‘stage two’ complaint.

Around 90 per cent, or 7582  ‘stage one’ complaints, were based around place management, followed by corporate and other (364), infrastructure and support (288) and peoples’ services directorate (100).

Other complaints included planning and property (64) and public protection and regulatory services (59).

A council report adds that rises in these particular complaints were linked to missed bin collections following the introduction of fortnightly collections in April 2017.

“This type of spike is often witnessed following a major policy change,” the report states.

In 2017/18, around 21 complaints were also reviewed at “stage two”  with two upheld, five partially upheld, one unsubstantiated, one withdrawn and 12 not upheld.

An additional 31 complaints were also made to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, which investigates maladministration in councils.

Out of the 31 complaints in 2017/18, six were upheld with rulings of “maladministration and injustice”.

Cases ranged from SCC failing to consult homeowners about works on woodland to providing incorrect information related to a man moving into a care home as a self-funder.

SCC’s scrutiny and co-ordinating committee will be asked to give feedback on the report on Thursday, June 28 at Sunderland Civic Centre.

The meeting kicks off at 5.30pm and for more information, visit: www.sunderland.gov.uk.

Chris Binding , Local Democracy Reporting Service