When people have a complaint about a care service, it can be beneficial to raise this with the manager of the service in the first instance.  This is often the quickest way to resolve a problem. Handling complaints close to the point of service delivery means the service can deal with them locally and quickly, so they are less likely to escalate to the Care Inspectorate.

However, when people remain concerned about the standard of care provided by a registered service or they are concerned about raising their complaint directly with the service, they can raise this with us. We will ensure that complaints are addressed properly and in good time. 

We look closely at all information given to us when people tell us they are not receiving good care.  We also take account of the care service’s history. Then we assess how to resolve your complaint appropriately.

A complaint can be about: 

  • inadequate standards of care
  • failure to uphold the rights of a person using a service, or their relatives or carers.
  • a care service's failure to follow appropriate safe care practices.
  • the practice of staff, including treatment by, or conduct of, a member of staff, fitness of staff, inadequate staff training and staff numbers or deployment.

Complaints we are unable to deal with or investigate:  

  • we are not able to deal with complaints that fall under the remit of other organisations. 
  • a request for compensation
  • issues that are in court or have already been heard by a court or tribunal.
  • a complaint that has already been upheld by the care service and action taken to change/improve practice.
  • staff employment issues that are covered by contract, grievance and employment conditions.
  • allegations of discrimination, for example race or disability, prior to someone receiving care or support from a registered service. 
  • complaints about social work decisions or contracting with a care service.
  • an attempt to reopen a previously concluded complaint or to have a complaint reconsidered where we have already given our final decision.
  • child and adult protection issues – we will refer complaints of this nature to the relevant authority, such as social work agencies or the police.
  • criminal offences - we will refer complaints of this nature to the relevant authority, such as Police Scotland.

If your complaint is not within our remit or would be better dealt with by another organisation, we will let you know how you can get in touch with the relevant organisation. 

Research has evidenced that people can be reluctant to make complaints because they concerned about repercussion.  In order to support this, you can raise complaints in the following ways. 

Confidential complainant   

You can choose to make a complaint to us and provide your details but ask that this is kept confidential from the service. We would not share your identity with the service without your consent. 

Being confidential enables us to gain information from you to assist our assessment of your complaint and any investigation.  It also enables us to feedback directly to you on the findings from the complaint and any actions to support improvement. 

We may have to share your details if we need to refer the complaint to another agency for example if the complaint suggests an adult or child at a risk of harm, we will inform you if we need to do this.

This can be an alternative to being an anonymous complainant.

Anonymous complainant 

You can choose to make your complaint anonymously.  However, being anonymous can limit any assessment or investigation of the complaint as we cannot clarify or verify information. 

It also means we cannot feedback to you on the outcome of the assessment or investigation.  This includes you being able to contact us for further information on an anonymous complaint you have made. 

It is very useful to have someone to discuss complaints made, if possible we would ask you are confidential rather than anonymous. Your personal details, if you chose to make your complaint confidential, as described above, will not be shared with the service without your consent. 

How to raise a complaint  

For a registered care service, you can choose to contact us directly by either:

  • filling in our online form
  • calling us on 0345 600 9527 between 09:00 - 16:00, Monday to Friday
  • emailing us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

It is important that you provide us with your contact telephone number.  We will not provide your details to the service unless you agree to this.

Complaints process

When we receive a complaint, we are always committed to the safety and wellbeing of people experiencing care.  

An important way for us to make sure care services improve is by listening to concerns. These concerns must be about a registered care service - we cannot investigate services that are not registered with us.

We use a range of methods to ensure we hear the views of people experiencing care, staff and relatives. These include visits to services as well as video calls.

More detailed information on our statutory duty to investigate is set out in:

All complaints are assessed for any aspects of adult and child protection. Any complaints which are assessed as adult or child protection are referred to the lead agency, the social work department and/or Police Scotland. We keep in touch with the social work department/police until a decision is made about any investigation they will undertake. If a decision is made that no investigation is required by them, the issues will be re-assessed through our resolution pathways and investigated by the Care Inspectorate if this is appropriate.  

If you are unhappy with the outcome of our investigation, you have the right to request a review. We include information about how to do this when we provide you with the written summary of our findings.  

The 4 pathways for resolving complaints

Following assessment, there are a number of ways we can handle complaints when they are raised with us, and we may use multiple methodologies for one complaint. It is important that each complaint is dealt with through the most appropriate route to ensure that concerns are resolved as quickly and effectively as possible. 

You can find more information on the 4 pathways for complaints here.

How children and young people can get in touch  

We are committed to keeping The Promise and delivering our responsibilities as a corporate parent. If a child or young person is unhappy about the standard of care they are receiving, or want to talk to someone in confidence, they can now:

  • send us a text directly on 07870 981785.

Whichever method you use to get in touch, we will:

  • send you an acknowledgement within three working days 
  • keep you informed of the method assessed as appropriate to resolve your complaint
  • where we carry out an investigation we aim to complete the investigation within 40 working days 
  • let you know if we think there will be a delay and explain why
  • let you know our findings and the outcome.

Our animation co-designed with our young inspection volunteers demonstrates The Promise in action – by making sure that our young people’s voices authentically influence our work.

How to make a complaint about individuals

If you want to raise a concern about a specific individual (or individuals) working in a care service – rather than the service itself – the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) may be able to help.

The SSSC regulates a wide range of social care workers. They can consider concerns about workers who are registered or applying to register with it.

You can check if a worker is registered by searching the Register or by calling the SSSC on 0345 603 0891. 

Other organisations’ complaints procedures  

For local authority social work departments, please contact the local authority and ask about their complaints procedure.  

For NHS hospital or clinic, please contact the local NHS board. 

The Nursing Midwifery Council (NMC) regulate nurses in Scotland. They can consider concerns about specific individuals who are registered nurses. You can let them know about your concerns by:

  • calling the NMC on 020 7637 7181
  • emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • or you can check if a nurse is registered by searching the Register.

For independent health service or hospice, contact Healthcare Improvement Scotland. 

For planning permission and building standards, please contact your local authority planning department.