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The office of the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) is the final stage for complaints about councils, all adult social care providers (including care homes and home care agencies) and some other organisations providing local public services.

In 2017-18 they increased the amount of work they do to drive awareness of the findings from their casework.

They have begun to identify issues where they are seeing systemic or emerging problems – where their investigations uncover issues and themes seen time and again across different councils and care providers.

To feed back the learning opportunities, they have started to publish themed Focus Reports.  Focus reports ‘focus’ on particular themes they see from complaints, using case studies to highlight common or systemic issues. The aim is to share learning from these complaints to inform good practice for bodies in their jurisdiction and provide suggested scrutiny questions for councillors to ask of their local authority.

The themes covered are based on analysis of their casework findings and statistics, alongside consideration of external factors.

Focus Reports published in 2017/18 include:

The Right to Decide: towards a greater understanding of mental capacity and deprivation of liberty

They highlighted that some vulnerable people are being forced into situations against their will. This is because councils and care providers are not always following the right processes when making decisions on behalf of people who lack mental capacity to choose how they are cared for.

Education, Health and Care Plans: our first 100 investigations

They said that families of children with special educational needs (SEN) are sometimes facing a disproportionate burden to ensure they get the support they need. After reflecting on their first 100 investigations about the replacement system for Statements of SEN, they found that families were sometimes suffering excessive delays in getting the right support, with children ultimately failing to reach their potential. They found fault in nearly 80% of investigations.

Still No Place Like Home: councils’ continuing use of unsuitable bed and breakfast accommodation for families

They showed that homelessness is increasingly affecting families outside of the capital and the south east, and from professions who previously may never expected to face problems finding somewhere to live. Many of the problems highlighted in their similar report on this topic in 2013 still persist today. They also said there are signs the problems are becoming more acute, with an increase in the length of time families are having to stay in temporary accommodation, and some of the conditions being akin to ‘Dickensian’.

Local authorities and care providers will need to ensure that they take note of the findings and Focus Reports published by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.  The questions posed by the Ombudsman at the end of Focus Reports may be a useful contribution to Quality Assurance processes.

Further Information

Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman – Focus Reports

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