EHRC Research: identifies clear barriers to people tying to complain about Social Care issues

Equality watchdog highlights barriers faced by those challenging social care decisions in Scotland

Some adults receiving social care in Scotland are unsure of how to challenge decisions about their care, according to new research published by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

An accompanying survey of local authorities, also published today by Britain’s equality regulator, uncovers inconsistencies in the complaints process across Scotland.

The EHRC commissioned the research to explore how well the current system works for people who want to challenge decisions about the social care they receive in Scotland.

In depth interviews with eighteen social care users, carers, personal assistants and advocates revealed broadly negative experiences of a system that does not always provide an effective way to challenge decisions about their care.

Current processes are found to add to the mental, physical and intellectual burden of those receiving social care, and some users also fear negative consequences if they challenge a decision or make a complaint.

The research identifies potential improvements to the current process of challenging decisions. However, learning from this work will also help inform the EHRC’s approach to ensuring equality is embedded in the development of Scotland’s new National Care Service (NCS) and the NCS Charter, which will set out the rights of service users and responsibilities of service providers.

The research found that:

  • none of the local authorities that participated made accessible information on the right to challenge a social care decision available publicly
  • Almost all required those receiving social care, their family members or someone advocating for them, to request that information
  • Once someone enters the complaints process, the majority of local authorities surveyed either signpost service users to independent advocacy or commission advocacy support on their behalf
  • Those social care users with experience of working with an advocate reported benefiting from their knowledge of the process, emotional detachment and energy to persist in making a complaint.

The research also demonstrates failings in relation to the gathering of equality data and its use to improve social care provision.

Few of the local authorities that responded knew whether they collected data from complainants on characteristics protected under the Equality Act 2010. Such data is critical to ensuring local authorities provide their services equally, do not discriminate and comply with their obligations under the Public Sector Equality Duty.

The EHRC will continue to work with partners to ensure the right to independent living is recognised in the systems that support older and disabled people, and respected in practice by all social care services in Scotland.

You can find the full details of the Research Reports here:

Self Directed Support Scotland

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