When a Council commissions another organisation to provide services on its behalf, it remains responsible for those services and for the actions of the organisation providing them. A Care Home can be well within its rights to terminate a contract, but only in a way consistent with the terms of that contract. All providers to publicly funded clientele in the social care world owe human rights, directly, to the customers, under the Care Act (as to providers to CCGs for continuing NHS health care, but not under the Care Act; simply through the NHS Act).
If the person spends their own money, or has a council funded direct payment instead of a care package of services, the system is that they contract privately with a provider, and are responsible for sorting out their own issues with the standards of service. But in either case they can go to the Ombudsman about a complaint if it is not properly dealt with to a person’s satisfaction.
Generally, if the care is council commissioned, the council is primarily liable for sorting out complaints of inadequacy after one has raised them with the provider, informally; if the council doesn’t do a good job there, one can take it further to the Ombudsman later.
Reports make it clear that issues are not always just the fault of the provider. The LGO has found the Council at fault in cases concerning: providers who provide inadequate care, where often the care does not match up with the care outlined in a person’s care plan or the plan doesn’t match the assessment in the first place; the care provider terminates a person’s contract without sufficient notice but the council does nothing about it; providers fail to provide an adequate response to concerns or complaints and the council does nothing about that either; the provider fails to investigate safeguarding concerns sufficiently and the council does nothing about that, despite being responsible for a proper s42 enquiry; or they charge incorrectly, raising issues surrounding contracts between service users and providers, and who is whose customer at the relevant point in time. The LGO has been seen to refer care homes to the CQC, recommend compensation in cases that involve harm/potential harm, and often provides recommendations for Councils and providers to improve their practice.