Essential information

Comments, compliments and complaints

All organisations need to know how they are performing. They are happy to receive your feedback on their service whether they are compliments or complaints. Feel free to tell them what you think and your comments can be used constructively to improve the service.

If you do need to make a complaint you should feel able to complain about any aspect of your care that affects your happiness or comfort. This could be about the way you are treated by a staff member or the quality of the food you are served. You can also make comments and  suggestions about possible improvements to your surroundings and the services provided.

Making a complaint should not be difficult for you. Providers are required under the essential standards of quality and safety to have a simple and easy to use complaints procedure that they will be happy to give you. If you are concerned about the care that you, a friend or a relative is receiving, it makes sense to speak to the manager before you take any further action. The problem may be resolved quite easily once they are made aware of it.

However, if you need to make a formal complaint, you should initially contact the registered owners of the service. They have a duty to respond to any complaints made. If your complaint is about a breach of regulations, contact your local office of the Care Quality Commission, see for contact details or phone 03000 616161.

If Adult Services have arranged and funded your care, another option is to complain to your social worker/care manager or to a Complaints Officer via the Council’s Customer Feedback Team who will also be happy to receive compliments. The Customer Feedback Team at the County Council may be contacted as follows:

Tel: 01604 363436

Write to:
Customer Feedback Team
John Dryden House, 8-10 The Lakes, Bedford Road,
Northampton NN4 7YD

Further information about the Council’s complaints procedure may be found on the website: where you may also complete an online complaint form.

If you find this difficult and do not have anyone to support you please contact Total Voice Advocacy on 02033 558846.

Another organisation that can help is the Local Government Ombudsman.

PO Box 4771, Coventry CV4 0EH
Tel: 0300 061 0614 or 0845 602 1983
Visit for more information and to complete an online complaint form.

The new Care Bill will come into force in April 2014. It is likely to include the following clause:

‘A local authority has a duty to provide an independent advocate to assist any person qualifying under this Act for the purpose of assessment, supporting planning and/or review processes, or both.’

At present Total Voice Northamptonshire provides the following advocacy services across the county.

Tel: 0300 330 5454
Textphone: 07860 022939

Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy (IMCA) Service
An IMCA is independent of the person making the decision.

• provides support for the person who lacks capacity;

• represents the person without capacity in discussions about any proposed treatment;

• provides information to work out what is in a person’s best interest;

• questions or challenges decisions that they believe are not in the best interests of the person lacking capacity; and

• presents individuals’ views and interests to the decisionmaker.

An Independent Mental Capacity Advocate will be involved when individuals:

• lack the capacity to make a specific decision about serious medical treatment or long-term accommodation;

• have no family or friends available and appropriate to support or representative them;

• have not previously named someone who can help with a decision; or

• have not made a Lasting Power of Attorney.

Independent Mental Health Advocacy
Independent Mental Health Advocacy is a new type of statutory advocacy introduced in 2009. There is now a legal duty to provide independent mental health advocacy to patients who qualify under the Mental Health Act 1983.

An Independent Mental Health Advocate (IMHA) is someone who is specially trained to work within the framework of the Mental Health Act to meet the needs of patients. Independent Mental Health Advocacy services do not replace any other advocacy and support services that are available to patients. An IMHA will work alongside these services.

Patients should be informed of their right to access IMHA. This is the responsibility of the person who is in charge of their care at the time.

An IMHA can help you find out about and understand:

• your rights under the Mental Health Act 1983;

• the rights which other people, such as your relatives, have in relation to you under the Mental Health Act 1983;

• the parts of the Mental Health Act 1983 which apply to you;

• any conditions or restrictions which apply to you;

• any medical treatment that you are receiving or might be given;

• the reasons and legal authority for providing particular medical treatment (or proposed treatment); and

• the safeguards and other requirements of the Mental Health Act 1983 which apply to your treatment.

The involvement of an IMHA does not affect your right (or the right of your nearest relative) to seek advice from a lawyer, nor does it affect your entitlement to legal aid.

Do I qualify for the support of an IMHA?
The Mental Health Act 1983 calls a patient who is eligible for an Independent Health Advocate a ‘qualifying patient’.

You will be a ‘qualifying patient’ if you are:

• detained under section 5.2 or 5.3 of the Mental Health Act, even if you are on section 17 leave from hospital;

• a conditionally discharged restricted patient;

• subject to a guardianship (section 5.7);

• subject to a supervised community treatment order (SCT);

• an informal patient being considered for section 57 treatment (psychosurgery); or

• an informal patient under 18 and being considered for section 58a treatment (ECT).

An IMHA can also help you to:

• exercise your rights, which can include acting and/or speaking on your behalf;

• participate in the decisions that are made about your care or treatment; and

• get access to your medical records.

An IMHA will:

• spend time with you and ask you questions to get to know your views and wishes;

• visit you in private, if that is appropriate;

• support you on ward rounds and attend meetings you have with professionals involved in your care and treatment, if you would like them to; and

• visit and speak to any person who is currently professionally concerned with your treatment, provided it is for the purpose of supporting you in their role as your IMHA.

An IMHA cannot:

• offer advice, opinions or judgements about what is best for you; or
• act as a substitute for therapeutic support.

National Health Service Complaints Advocacy
NHS Complaints Advocates can help if you or someone you know has not had the care or treatment you expect to receive from your NHS services and you want to complain. When your health care is provided or commissioned by the NHS you are allowed to make a complaint using the NHS complaints process.

An NHS complaint might include something that happened during care or treatment provided by:
• a hospital;
• your General Practitioner (GP);
• a dentist;
• a pharmacist;
• an optician;
• an NHS funded care home;
• special services;
• a paramedic or ambulance staff member;
• NHS Community staff; or
• other NHS staff or clinicians.

NHS Complaints Advocacy is:
• independent of the NHS;
• confidential; and
• free.

How does advocacy work?
VoiceAbility provides advocacy assistance to help people make their complaint.

Advocates support people to speak for themselves and represent their own thoughts and feelings when things get difficult.

Advocates are specially trained in how to support you to make your complaint.

As advocacy is about helping people to speak up for themselves, your advocate will not tell you what to do or act on the wishes of others.

What does an advocate do to help?
Advocates work with you so that you feel confident to make a complaint.

Advocates will help you to explore your options at the different complaint stages and can give you information that can help you decide what to do.

Tel: 0300 330 5454
Textphone: 07860 022939

Professional advocacy
This advocacy service applies to those people 18 years or over who are registered with a GP in Northamptonshire. The service will cover social care, physical disabilities, learning difficulties/disabilities.

All Total Voice services can be accessed by calling: 02033 558846. Web:

Inspection and registration of care services
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) registers, inspects and reviews all adult social care and healthcare services in England in the public, private and voluntary sectors. This includes care homes, care homes with nursing, home care agencies and NHS services, amongst others.

Since October 2010, all care providers must be registered under a system, introduced by the Health and Social Care Act 2008, which brings adult social care, independent healthcare and the NHS under a single set of essential standards of quality and safety for the first time.

CQC will hold and publish up to date information about the compliance of adult social care providers with essential standards of safety and quality.

Following an inspection, each care home and home care agency is given a report of how it rates against national essential standards of quality and safety. Each service’s report can be seen on the CQC website:

The focus of an inspection is on the standards of care that people who use the service receive and whether they are happy with their care. Virtually all inspections are unannounced.

For any enquiries or to register a concern or a complaint, contact CQC by telephone: 03000 616161 or by email:
The Care Quality Commission
Citygate, Gallowgate, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 4PA

Out of county care homes
Did you know you can choose a care home outside your home county although there may be financial implications to consider? You may want to be closer to friends, family members or you may want to relocate to another part of the country.

The home you choose must be suitable for your assessed needs and comply with the terms and conditions set by the authority. The fees that your local authority will pay may vary. The local authority will seek to meet the assessed needs of people in need of funding support in the most cost effective manner. They may offer you the fees you would receive if you remained within the county, or they may offer you the fees that the local authority would pay in your chosen region. You must seek further advice before making your decision.

If you’re self-funded, obviously you have freedom of choice to purchase a place wherever is suitable for you. If you move to live in another county and subsequently need to go into a care home, then the county you move to would be responsible for your care fees.

This Directory’s free helpline
This Directory’s free helpline provides an independent information and help service encompassing care and accommodation. A personalised report can be generated for callers providing details of all care homes or housing with care schemes that meet their criteria with supplementary information about choosing and funding care.

One call to the freephone number 0800 389 2077 will enable the service to build a profile of exactly what type of care you’re looking for, while taking into account your personal needs and interests.

How solicitors can help
A solicitor can give you impartial advice about wills, making gifts, estate planning and Powers of Attorney. Some can also offer guidance on immediate and longterm care plans, ensuring (if applicable) the NHS has made the correct contribution to your fees.

Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA) allow you to appoint someone you trust to make decisions about your personal welfare, including healthcare and consent to medical treatment, and/or your property and financial affairs. A LPA is only valid once registered with the Office of the Public Guardian. It allows for a person of your choice to make decisions on your behalf at a time when you may be unable to do so.

The Court of Protection can issue Orders directing the management of a person’s property and financial affairs if they are incapable of managing their own affairs should they not have a LPA. The Court procedure is presently very slow and the fees are quite expensive so preparing a LPA is always advisable, providing you have somebody sufficiently trustworthy to appoint as your attorney.

An ‘advance directive’ allows you to communicate your wishes in respect of future medical treatment but it is not legally binding. You may instead wish to make a living will, properly known as an ‘advance decision’ setting out treatment that you do not want to receive in specified circumstances, which would legally have to be followed, even if you die as a result.

Any proposed gift out of your estate needs careful consideration of the benefits, risks and implications, particularly on any future liability for care costs or tax liability.

Long-term care: whether you remain in your own home or move into sheltered or residential care, you may qualify for financial assistance in the form of social care and NHS-funded care and welfare benefits.

If you don’t have your own solicitor, ask family or friends for their recommendations. Contact several firms, explain your situation and ask for an estimate of cost and an idea of time scales involved. Many firms will make home visits if necessary and will adapt their communications to meet your needs. It’s important to find a solicitor who specialises in this area of the law.

For further information and help, call this Directory’s independent helpline: 0800 389 2077.

Safeguarding vulnerable adults
Safeguarding and protecting vulnerable adults from abuse has traditionally been seen as a major role of those working in the social care sector. Now, more than ever given recent cases that have made national news, it is becoming an issue for everyone in society, not just for those people who have a professional responsibility to safeguard.

Far too many vulnerable adults suffer abuse, neglect and worse, often at the hands of relatives and carers, those who you would least expect to treat them in that way. A vulnerable adult is a person aged 18 years or over who may be unable to take care of themselves, or protect themselves from harm or from being exploited.

What is adult abuse?
Abuse is mistreatment by any other person or persons that violates a person’s human and civil rights. The abuse can vary from treating someone with disrespect in a way which significantly affects the person’s quality of life, to causing actual physical suffering.

It can happen anywhere – in a care home or a care home with nursing, a hospital, in the workplace, at a day centre or educational establishment, in supported housing or in the street.

Forms of abuse could be physical, sexual, psychological, emotional or financial. It could also cover the issues of neglect and institutional abuse – where the abuse affects more than one person within an organisation and is not addressed by the service’s management.

Who might be causing the abuse?
The person who is responsible for the abuse is very often well known to the person abused and could be:

• a paid carer or volunteer;
• a health worker, social care or other worker;
• a relative, friend or neighbour;
• another resident or service user;
• an occasional visitor or someone who is providing a service; or
• someone who deliberately exploits vulnerable people.

If you think someone is being abused call Northamptonshire County Council’s Customer Service Centre on 0300 126 1000. Your concerns will be taken seriously and will receive prompt attention, advice and support.

If the abuse is also a crime such as assault, racial harassment, rape or theft you should involve the police to prevent someone else from being abused. If the police are involved the Social Care Team will work with them and with you to support you.

If you are worried about contacting the police you can contact the Customer Service Centre on 0300 126 1000 to talk things over first. If immediate action is needed dial 999.

What will happen after abuse is reported?
The Customer Service Centre receives all safeguarding notifications and they pass this to the Safeguarding Team. Subsequently:

• a worker from the Safeguarding Team will be identified as the case lead officer;

• the case lead officer will gather information and undertake a strategy discussion within 24 hours;

• the referrer will be notified of the outcome of the strategy discussion; and

• if a strategy meeting is required the case lead officer will convene this within five days

The case lead officer is responsible for:
• convening case conferences for complex cases;
• reviewing meetings;
• indicating timescales; and
• co-coordinating the collation of information and assessments.

The case lead officer will keep the referrer updated at no less than 28 day intervals.

Professionals from other agencies may be instrumental in carrying out tasks in the investigation best suited to their service. The case lead officer can agree to these tasks with these other professionals at any stage in the investigation process.

When you suspect abuse in a residential care or nursing home
If your concern is about someone who is in a residential care or nursing home, please refer them to the Customer Service Centre on 0300 126 1000.

If you have concerns about the standards or application of regulations in a care home you should contact the Care Quality Commission:

National Correspondence, Citygate, Gallowgate,
Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 4PA
Tel: 03000 616161 Email:

Healthwatch Northamptonshire – your voice counts
Healthwatch England
Healthwatch England is the independent consumer champion for health and social care services in England.

Working with a network of 152 local Healthwatch teams, Healthwatch England will ensure that the voices of all consumers and those who use services reach the ears of the decision makers.

Healthwatch Northamptonshire is one of the 152 community-focused networks, and it exists to listen to you, and represent your views.

Healthwatch Northamptonshire
Healthwatch Northamptonshire is a consumer champion for everyone who uses local health and social care services in the county.

We will help get people’s views heard, in order to ensure that services are designed around the needs of people who use them.

We will help with criticisms, and address them efficiently using our local connections. We will advise Healthwatch England on the concerns of Northamptonshire people to feed into the national health and social care agenda. When necessary, we will urge Healthwatch England to recommend that the Care Quality Commission take action.

Heathwatch Northamptonshire is an independent organisation, run with the support of the University of Northamptonshire and Northampton Volunteering Centre. Run as a social enterprise, Healthwatch Northamptonshire Community Interest Company is an organisation that trades for the benefit of the community. Healthwatch Northamptonshire will gather the opinions of adults and children within Northamptonshire, and use their views to improve health and social care services. Healthwatch Northamptonshire will signpost people to information, and explain what to do if things go wrong.

Tel: 01604 893636

The Silver Line
A free 24-hour dedicated helpline for older people across the UK has been launched by Esther Rantzen.

The Silver Line aims to combat loneliness in the over-65s by providing friendship, information and advice through calls to trained volunteers.

Chairwoman Ms Rantzen said she hoped the phone line number: 0800 470 8090, would be remembered by all older people when they needed friendship or advice. The phone line is funded by a £5m grant from the Big Lottery Fund.

The Department of Health has said that loneliness causes serious physical and mental damage. More than half of the UK’s over-75s live alone.

‘We will signpost them to the services in their community, and by showing them we value them and care about them we will restore their confidence and feelings of self-worth.’Web:

The Northamptonshire Association of Registered Care Homes (NorArch)
The Northamptonshire Association of Registered Care Homes (NorArch) was formed in April 1983. At that time it was organised as an informal get together and information sharing group. However it has now transformed itself into a professional body representing approximately 70% of the independent registered care homes in the County. Our membership includes residential and nursing care both for younger and older people and for people with learning difficulties. They also offer specialist homes such as a home for the blind.

Membership is restricted to proprietors and managers of registered care homes in Northamptonshire. Members include smaller and larger single unit to multiple unit homes. The ownership includes private and the voluntary sectors.

The main principles and objects of the Association are:

• To provide a responsible body which will represent the interests and views of members to central Government, local Government and other bodies.

• To effect and maintain high standards in homes in Northamptonshire by the provision of a Code of Conduct for members which is an integral part of the criteria for membership.

• To promote the image of registered homes by the adoption of a professional approach to the operation of such homes.

• To liaise with other bodies with compatible aims for the mutual benefit of those bodies and the Association.

• To provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and information and for the discussion of problems.

They are the only Association that Northamptonshire County Council will negotiate with when annual fee increases are discussed.

Its membership is keen to embrace innovative and new concepts in care for both the elderly and people with learning difficulties.
For further information about NorArch, please email: