People's experience of care: What we want to know and why

Page last updated: 20 December 2022

Why we want to hear from you

It’s our job to make sure that health and social care services in England provide people with safe, effective, compassionate and high-quality care. We do this by inspecting and monitoring the care that services provide.

To do our job well, it’s important that people like you tell us about your experience of care.

By providing us with this information, you’ll help us improve the overall quality of care in England. You’ll also help us prevent poor care and abuse happening to others in the future.

Tell us about your care now

What we want to know

We want to know about poor care, abuse and neglect as soon as they happen.

By poor we mean care that’s not safe, effective or caring, and that does not respond to people’s needs. Poor care does not meet the standards you have a right to expect.

We also welcome information about good care. This adds to our picture of the overall standard of care and by sharing good examples we can help all care providers improve.

The services we want to know about

We want you to tell us about the health and social care services we cover. They include:

  • hospitals
  • care homes
  • home care agencies
  • hospice services
  • GP practices, including walk-in centres and out-of-hours services
  • dentists
  • community care and support services, such as district nurses and health visitors
  • clinics providing services such as family planning, slimming and some types of cosmetic surgery
  • community mental health services
  • ambulance services.

There are some care services that we don’t cover, including children’s social care, which is covered by Ofsted.

Who we want to hear from

We want to hear from you if:

  • you’ve experienced care yourself from one of the health and social care services we cover
  • you’ve seen or know about care experienced by a friend or relative
  • you’ve seen or know about care because of your job or voluntary work.

Complaints to providers – and why we can’t take them up on your behalf

If you’ve seen or experienced poor care, abuse or neglect, it can be tricky knowing who to complain to. We’ve explained how it works here.

If you’ve experienced or seen poor care, you have a right to feed back or complain to the organisation that provided or paid for the care. We can’t make these complaints for you or take them up on your behalf. That may seem confusing but it’s because we don’t have powers to investigate or resolve them.

Find out more about how to Complain about a service or provider.

The only exception to this is for people whose rights are restricted under the Mental Health Act. In certain circumstances, we can act on behalf of someone whose rights have been restricted under the act.

Find out more about how to Complain about the use of the Mental Health Act.

Complaints to providers – please tell us too

If you do give feedback or make a complaint to an organisation that provided or paid for care, we really want to know too. Please tell us as well as making your complaint to the provider.

We want to know about your complaint because it will help us form a picture of how well a particular service cares for the people who use it.

Remember, we won’t be able to support you with your complaint to the provider or take it up on your behalf, but your information will help us to protect others from going through the same experience.

Whistleblowing – and why we can’t protect you in disputes with your employer

If you’re employed by an organisation that we regulate and you have concerns about the care being provided by your employer, we want you to tell us. Your information is very important in helping us form a picture of how well the service you work for cares for all the people who use it.

People who raise concerns about the care provided by their employer are sometimes called ‘whistleblowers’. In law, whistleblowers are people who raise their concerns in a certain way and may receive protection in any employment dispute. All organisations that provide care must have whistleblowing procedures and must make them available to their employees. Follow your employer’s procedures if you have any concerns about care.

We don’t have any powers to protect you from action taken against you by your employer. However, if you’re involved in an employment tribunal in the future, the fact that you told us about your concerns may help you to claim for unfair dismissal.

How we use your information

Your information is very important to us. It helps us decide what, when, and where to inspect, including if we need to carry out an urgent inspection. It may also inform our inspection reports on the quality of care being provided.

Exactly what we do with your information depends on how urgent it is and what it’s about. If somebody is at immediate risk of harm or abuse and we are the first organisation to find out, we’ll tell the police or local authority, or both. We do this because police and councils have the legal powers to take immediate action to protect people at risk.

We may also decide to take action ourselves in coordination with the police and councils.

There are a number of actions we may take ourselves. These include:

  • asking the care provider to give us their response to the information
  • meeting with management at the care provider to discuss the information
  • sharing information with other relevant agencies that need to know about it
  • carrying out an urgent inspection or bringing forward a planned inspection
  • warning, fining or placing conditions on how a care service operates.

In the most serious cases we can force a care provider to close.

Your privacy

We’ll treat all the information you give us in confidence.

However, in certain circumstances we may need to share it with others, such as when:

  • we believe someone is at risk of harm
  • a crime has been committed
  • another organisation needs to take action to ensure the safety and quality of care.

You can find out more about our approach to confidentiality in our Privacy statement.

What you can expect in response from us

When you give us information and leave your contact details, we’ll always let you know we’ve received it.

We may also get in touch with you to ask for more details about the information you’ve provided. We won’t do this in every case because we don’t always need to get more details. Even if you don’t hear from us, we’ll still be using the information you’ve given us in our work.

You can sign up for our email alerts at any time. These updates tell you when we’ve published an inspection report on a particular care provider.