People who use health and care services, or others acting on their behalf, must be confident that providers are listening to and acting on their comments and any complaints about the service they are receiving. They must also be confident that they will not be discriminated against for making a complaint, but that any complaint will be taken seriously and addressed fairly and openly in line with the set procedures. This in turn will increase their choice and control of the services they need. Complaints, therefore, should contribute to improving service quality.

To these ends care service owners and managers must put into place systems to deal with comments and complaints. They should appoint or employ a person or people who can specialise in the handling of any complaint (possibly as part of a wider remit concerning quality assurance and improvements).

Some service users will need help from independent advocates to make their complaint.

Complaints relating to the restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 emergency should be treated in line with the care service’s complaints procedure and addressed with reference to the circumstances in which it has been working.

A complaint could be upheld if it was found, for example, that the care service had breached in some way the coronavirus regulations, or if it had misapplied them. Otherwise a complaint could not be upheld if the care service was acting reasonably in line with the coronavirus regulations. An apology for any inconvenience or disruption to normal service because of the pandemic situation might still be made without implying fault on the part of the care service.

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