Complaints, advovacy and abuse in Northamptonshire

Contact details to and information on complaints, advovacy and abuse in Northamptonshire.

The information here can help you to ensure your voice is heard when you are receiving social care services.

Comments, compliments and complaints

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.


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:

Safeguarding vulnerable adults

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.

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 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: