Customers praise adult social care services in Bucks

  |  Published: Jun 11th 2018
Lin Hazell, cabinet member for adult social care. Photo courtesy Buckinghamshire County Council.
Lin Hazell, cabinet member for adult social care. Photo courtesy Buckinghamshire County Council.

It’s one of the toughest jobs in local government but if you thought providing adult social care was a thankless task you’d be wrong.

More than a third of Buckinghamshire County Council’s entire budget is spent on social care for adults and, inevitably, things don’t go right all the time.

That’s why the Council has a statutory duty to record complaints and deal with them effectively, and Lin Hazell, Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, is the woman in charge of monitoring the public feedback and making sure it is acted upon.

Happily for Lin, and for the Council and its residents, the number of moans is falling and the number of pats on the back is steadily rising.

In 2016/17 the complaints tally was 78 while expressions of praise hit 107, Last year (2017/18) there were 54 complaints compared to 130 compliments.

More often than not Lin finishes reading the regular reports with a warm fuzzy feeling from the glowing tributes paid to caring council colleagues.

She puts it down to a changing culture and a determination by County Council staff to get things right or find a way to put them right.

Lin Hazell said: “We know we don’t always get everything right, but we are always trying to move forward and deliver improvements in the service we offer so it’s really nice when our staff get recognition for their hard work.”

Adult social care staff often deal with clients, or their family members, having a much more difficult time, so any praise is hard earned.

Statutory Complaints Officer at the Council, Amy Castielli, who collates the complaints and compliments for adult social care said: “In the three or four years that I have been working here we have seen the number of compliments being recorded double and I believe we are still not recording all the compliments that would give a true picture of the good job staff are doing.

“A lot of the time staff don’t think anything of the praise because they think they were just doing their job, and they might be right. However, the thank-yous are really heartfelt because the staff have made a real difference to people’s lives.

“They should blow their own trumpet a bit because they are doing a great job.”

A glance at the spreadsheet of compliments Amy records shows adult social care staff, whether as individuals or departments, being praised as ‘compassionate’, ‘hard-working’, ‘supportive’, ‘empathetic’, ‘thorough’, ‘patient’, ‘practical’, ‘kind’, ‘professional’, ‘helpful’, ‘efficient’, ‘caring’, ‘cheerful’ and ‘sympathetic’.

They are thanked for offering ‘invaluable advice’, ‘assistance’ ‘guidance’ or ‘comfort’, and for their ‘integrity’, ‘humanity’ and being ‘the best thing since sliced bread’.

Amy said: “Some of the calls and letters I receive are really emotive. You know sometimes you read something and it really hits home? The messages often show people who were going through a really tough time and who were helped through it by our people, and it means a lot.”

Amy said: “It’s always nice to read the compliments but first I see the complaints and it’s just as nice when they are dealt with well; when the outcome is positive and you end up with a compliment out of a complaint, so the whole situation has been turned around.

“It can be draining when you read complaints and know that something has gone wrong, but it is also quite positive when you can help to put it right.”

Lin Hazell thinks it is no coincidence that complaints are falling while more compliments are being recorded.

She added: “I believe there has been a change of culture over the years and it is good to see managers wanting to go out and see customers and sit down and have a conversation with them rather than thinking you can just answer a complaint with a letter.

“We are seeing a different approach and that is the way forward.”

For more information about adult social care services in Buckinghamshire visit: https://www.buckscc.gov.uk/services/care-for-adults/

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