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Dos and don'ts of making a complaint about adult social care services

This advice applies to England
Things you should doThings you shouldn't do
Make sure you have a good reason to complain. For example, certain medical treatments are not without risk. If the risks have been clearly explained to you, you have given valid consent to the treatment, and no professional mistakes have been made, you don't have grounds for a complaint Reason to complain Don't make claims with no basis about the organisations or members of their staff. And don't use the complaints procedures to reopen concerns which have already been fully investigated and where no evidence of wrongdoing was found.
List your concerns in a clear way, giving the names of the people concerned and the dates of events that have happened. Don't forget to include your full name, date of birth, address and other contact details. In the case of NHS complaints, also give your NHS number. Be clear Don't bury your complaint in amongst lengthy documentation about things that aren't relevant.
Clearly state that you're making a complaint under the NHS or local authority complaints procedure about an issue of concern Be professional Don't make personal attacks against employees
If you're asking for an explanation of what went wrong, be as clear as possible about the information you want, rather than asking general questions Be specific Don't make general statements about health and care professionals. For example, a general complaint such as 'Doctors never listen to anything a patient ever says', isn't helpful
Try to get help to make your complaint. Even if you don't get professional help, talk it over with someone else so that they can point out anything which isn't clear Get help Don't wait too long before before getting help. For some sort of actions, there are time limits that you mustn't miss
Use straightforward, polite language Be polite Don't use offensive or threatening language
Raise your concern as soon as possible Be prompt Don't make a complaint about something that happened a long time ago, unless you have a good reason for the delay
Stay focused on the main points of your complaint. Be focused Don't let your attention start to drift onto less important issues
Think about whether making a complaint is the best way of achieving what you want. In some cases, it may be easier for you to work round a problem. But you should never suffer in silence Know what you want Don't feel you have to carry on making a complaint if this no longer feels right for you. You can drop a complaint at any time
Aim to be flexible and try to work together with the organisation to solve the problem Be helpful Don't use a complaint as a way of 'scoring points' against the organisation
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