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Practical Insights for Busy Caregivers

How to make a complaint that gets heard


January 9, 2017, by Pat Morden, Caregiver Exchange

As a caregiver, you often find yourself speaking on behalf of the person you care for. Sometimes it’s a matter of clarifying needs or preferences. Occasionally it may be to lodge a complaint about poor quality care or support services.

Making a complaint about care in Ontario isn’t simple, but when you do it effectively, you can make a real difference. “When people voice their complaints,” says Gail Crossman, Manager of Complaint Services for Ontario’s Patient Ombudsman, “the issues raised can lead to positive change in the healthcare system and prevent others from going through a similar experience. This can lead to better care for all Ontarians.”

Complaints about hospitals, long-term care homes or Community Care Access Centres

  • The first step, says Crossman, is to voice your complaint at the hospital, long-term care home, or Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) where the concern arose. “Give them the opportunity to address your concerns directly,” she says.
  • If your concern is not resolved through the internal process, you can complain to the Patient Ombudsman. The services of the Patient Ombudsman are free and confidential.
  • If your concern is about a long-term care home or CCAC you can also call the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care Action line at 1.866.434.0144.

Complaints about health professionals

Crossman suggests thinking about the following questions before making a complaint:

  • What is your complaint about?
    • What happened?
    • When did it happen?
    • Where did it happen?
    • Who was involved?
    • Why were you dissatisfied?

  • What do you want to achieve through your complaint? The outcome could be an apology, recognition of the issue, a recommendation to prevent the same problem happening again to someone else, or something else. Knowing what you want to achieve will help you get there.
  • Can you provide consent? For information about consent, privacy and other questions related to making a complaint, check out
Have you ever had to complain about care? What was your experience like? Do you have insights to share with caregivers? Please email us. We’d love to talk to you!