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Social services complaints - before you start

This advice applies to Wales

If you are unhappy about the service you've had from your local authority social services department, you can complain. This page tells you what to think about when you are deciding what to do.

What do social services do?

LA social services departments provide help, support and protection to vulnerable people in their areas. They provide services to:

  • people with disabilities
  • children in need
  • children and young people in care
  • children and young people leaving care
  • carers
  • older people
  • people leaving hospital
  • anyone the local authority considers vulnerable
  • people experiencing family problems.

The Care Council for Wales has produced Practice Guidance for Social Workers. It can help you to know what is expected of social workers. It is available on the Care Council for Wales website at www.ccwales.org.uk.

What actions can you take?

You could use the LA's complaints procedure, but before you decide to do this, you should consider whether another action would be more likely to get the result you need.

The complaints procedure is good for dealing with smaller problems or issues such as bad practice or bad management. Problems can be resolved fairly quickly if they are settled at Stage1of the procedure.

The complaints procedure is not so good for challenges which raise important issues, or require urgent action, or, if you want compensation. If you are in this situation, you should consult an experienced adviser, for example, a Citizens Advice Bureau. To search for details of your nearest CAB, including those that can give advice by e-mail, click on nearest CAB.

If you want to try to prevent a decision from being acted upon, you could contact the LA's Complaints Officer. The Complaints Officer may also be able to help if the authority does not answer your calls or letters. You can contact the Complaints Officer in writing, by telephone or fax. You can still go on to take another action if using the Complaints Officer doesn't help.

The Public Services Ombudsman for Wales

The  Public Services Ombudsman for Wales (PSOW) can consider complaints about the way social services have done something, or not done something they should have done. You will normally have to use the complaints procedure before you can complain to the PSOW.

Will making a complaint affect the help you get from social services?

You may be afraid to complain because you're worried that the services you receive may be taken away from you. Social services have a duty to help and protect people. If you're worried about what to do, talk to someone, for example, a Citizens Advice Bureau adviser about help to complain.

If you are afraid about what might happen if you complain about social services, talk to an experienced adviser, for example, a Citizens Advice Bureau. To search for details of your nearest CAB, including those that can give advice by e-mail, click on nearest CAB.

To search for details of your nearest CAB, including those that can give advice by e-mail, click on nearest CAB.

If you complain about a proposed change to a social service you receive, for example, a change to a care plan, the local authority will normally delay the decision on whether to make the change until after your complaint has been considered. In some cases, for example when a child is at risk, the decision will not be delayed.

Next steps

Other useful information

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