COMPLAINTS to Wigan Council’s adult social care services have risen for the third year in a row – though the number of compliments more than trebled last year.

A total of 200 grievances were lodged against the service in 2018/19 – up from 178 in the previous year – in a "demanding" period for the authority’s customer relations team.

There were 82 cases requiring a full investigation – up from 76 in 2017/18 and 65 in 2016/17 – but more than half of these were not upheld.

The council was found to be entirely at fault on 12 occasions and partially responsible in 23 cases, meaning they were required to apologise or offer financial compensation.

But there was a groundswell of gratitude for staff working within adult social care, with 609 compliments received in 2018/19.

This is a huge increase of 440 on the previous year’s figure of 169.

One resident praised the council for helping to pay for their brother’s funeral, with a message of thanks reading: “It was a tough day for us to get through, but the arrangements and service provided by your chosen funeral directors were fantastic – such lovely, kind, thoughtful, respectful people.”

Another message, thanking a hospital social worker, said: “The social worker actually listened, understood and then helped us get mum the care she needs. 

“He is the social worker that everyone wants and deserves to meet, and we can’t thank him enough for everything he has done for us.”

Of the total number of complaints, these included 55 cases that were resolved informally, 57 referrals from MPs or councillors, and six cases taken to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.

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A council report, due to go before the council’s health and social care scrutiny committee on January 13, said: “This has been another demanding period for the customer relations team and there continue to be complex and high-risk cases which need to be investigated.”

Stuart Cowley, director for adult social care and health, insisted the council was focused on resolving complaints at the earliest possible stage and avoiding costly investigations.

“The slight increase in number of complaints is reflective of the national picture and of the increased complexity of these complaints,” he added.

“We always learn from complaints by improving our practices and share that learning with staff.

“As an organisation, we welcome complaints and compliments as important customer feedback on the services we provide and will continue to put residents at the heart of everything we do.”