A report called ‘Breaking down the Barriers’, from the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman has revealed that people over the age of 75 often lack the knowledge and confidence to complain when they receive poor care, and worry about the impact this might have on their future care and treatment. The report recommends that all NHS and social care providers should use ‘My expectations for raising concerns and complaints’, which sets out what good complaint handling looks like from patients’ and service users’ perspectives and can help service providers measure whether the actions they are taking are making a difference for the patient experience.
Research by Alzheimer’s Society shows that 70% of people with dementia live with at least one other health condition, and often rely on a complex array of health and social care services for care, treatment, and support. The nature of dementia creates additional barriers: people can find it hard to communicate their needs and are less able to engage in a formal complaints process.
George McNamara, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at Alzheimer’s Society said: “These findings are deeply worrying. The idea that older people are afraid to complain against bad practice or poor service means many will be suffering in silence.
“Older people have just as much right as anyone to receive the best possible care and support they need. Thousands of older people, many with dementia, use the NHS and care services on a daily basis and we need a system that works for them. Better support, as well as information must be easily accessible at the point of use and no one should be in fear of the repercussions of lodging a legitimate concern.
“Feedback, both good and bad, is essential to ensure delivering the best possible care, as well as weeding out bad practice.”