Why Are The Elderly Reluctant To Complain About Poor Standards of Care?


A recent study by the Parliamentary and Health Services Ombudsman has noted that the elderly are reluctant and hesitant to make complaints about poor standard of care with Ombudsman Julie Mellor saying that some are “suffering in silence”.

Why Are The Elderly Reluctant To Complain About Poor Standards of Care?

Daxa Patel, as well as being Partner of Medical Negligence, has been a carer herself, and fully understands the gravity of this issue, grasping first hand that for most elderly people are struggling to deal with the challenges of old age and other health issues.

More often than not, all they want is to continue to live a good quality of life in their own home. Some are likely to be totally reliant on carers who are already stretched to the limit in terms of the help they provide.

Daxa discusses some of the common questions surrounding the elderly and medical complaints:

Why Do Elderly People Not Make Official Complaints?

For every patient, the experience of medical care can be varied. The survey of over 7000 people over the age of 65 had a mixed response:

1. At least 56% of this age group did not complain as they were worried about the ramifications on their future treatment.

2. Of this group 20% did not know how to make a complaint; the elderly in particular may not have the facility or the ability to make a complaint especially if the process involves sending an email or writing a letter of complaint.

3. A third said that they felt that making a complaint would have made no positive difference to the care anyway; some may genuinely be concerned that if they did complain this would impact negatively on future as they are probably going to deal with the same medical professionals.

What Are The Long-Term Implications?

Issues tend to arise if no complaint is made in the first place because then there is no opportunity to improve the service offered and, more importantly, the same mistake or error could reoccur.

The charity Age UK has raised some concerns about the report, with the Director commenting that:

“Seeking and responding to older people’s views and experiences is crucial if we are to prevent future care scandals like those that have too often blighted our hospitals and care homes in recent years.”

It is a good thing that this issue has been raised as it encourages a more proactive approach from NHS providers to ensure all users are aware of the complaints process and are reassured that making a complaint will not have a domino impact on future care.

The observations made by the Ombudsman will invite a better dialogue between patients and health providers about patient concern.

How Can Simpson Millar Help?

Simpson Millar have much experience in cases where neglect and poor care of the elderly has seen painful outcomes such as bed sores, falls, or even care so negligent that the elderly person's family has had to step in to raise a complaint.

Always dealing with these sorts of cases with tact and confidentiality, we believe that making a complaint or raising concern about care should be an easy process, should help the professionals improve the standard of care and most importantly, help to avoid future mistakes. A user friendly system encouraging patients to voice their concerns is the way forward.

If you, or someone you know has been the victim of Medical negligence and you would like more information on all of our legal services, please call our freephone number on 0808 129 3320, or make an online enquiry using our form here.

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