Social care complaints – help us to get it right

Why we want to hear from you

We need you to tell us how you feel about our social care services. We like to know when we are getting things right, and we also need to know when there are problems. If we have made mistakes or could have done something better, tell us!

You may have comments, suggestions, compliments or complaints about:

  • The kind of services we offer;
  • The way you get help and services;
  • How helpful our services are
  • Services you haven’t been given.

We will:

  • Listen to what you have to say
  • Take action where we can
  • Act as a signpost to others who can help, if we can’t
  • Respond to you promptly.

What you can do

Talk to the member of staff you normally have contact with about how you feel, especially if you are concerned or think there is a problem. We want to sort things out straight away whenever we can – don’t let things fester.

Sometimes you might want to talk to a more senior person – don’t be afraid to ask to do this. Do not worry that you are “making a fuss”, if something is upsetting you we want to try to sort it out.

You might find it difficult to approach staff directly, or want to talk to someone else.

The Customer Relations Team can help you to put your concerns forwards, and can talk to you about how to use our complaints and representations procedure if you don’t feel that your concerns have been sorted out properly.

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Help expressing your views

All our staff would be happy to help you express your point of view, or arrange for someone else to talk to us on your behalf. Or you might want a friend or relative to talk to us for you.

You might want to get independent advice and support from somewhere like your local Citizen’s Advice Bureaux, Age UK, or somewhere similar. There are also some local voluntary groups who would be pleased to help, such as Advocacy Alliance and the Childrens Rights Project.

If you need some help communicating with us because English is not your first language, we can arrange help with translation and interpreting.

We can also help with things like interpreting into British Sign Language, and using alternative formats such as Braille.

Your records

We need to be able to look at all the relevant records held about you by us so we can investigate your concerns properly.

We will ask your permission to see this information. If you are complaining on someone else’s behalf, we will normally have to ask their permission.

Keeping things confidential

We will make sure that only the people who need to know are involved in investigating your complaint and taking action.

We will try to respect your wishes if you want things to stay “confidential”, but this may make it difficult to find out what happened and take action to put things right.

If what you tell us about is a crime, or will affect the safety of a vulnerable child or adult, we cannot keep this secret – but we can help you to make sure the right people are told and the right action is taken.

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Complaints procedures

There are two separate complaints procedures for Social Care Services. There is a Children & Families Social Care complaints procedure and an Adults Social Care complaints procedure.

Children and Families Social Care complaint

All complaints are dealt with at one of these stages. You will be asked how you would like us to deal with your complaint.

“On the spot” problem-solving

Usually we can sort out a problem straight away. Tell whoever you have contact with what has happened, and they can often sort things out there and then.

Stage One – Looking for a quick solution

Occasionally a more senior person (the team or unit Manager) needs to look at what has happened. You have the right to ask for this, and we aim to respond within ten working days.

Stage Two – Making it “formal”

You may wish to have an independent point of view, from outside the team or unit, for more serious matters, or you may not be happy with the outcome at Stage One. The Customer Relations Team will arrange for your complaint to be investigated by a fully accredited investigating officer. You will receive a written report, and a formal response from a senior manager. We aim to do this within 25 working days, but this may be extended to a maximum of 65 working days with your agreement if this is a complex complaint.

Stage Three – Independent Review

If you are unhappy with the outcome at Stage 2, you can ask for an Independent Review Panel. Three independent people will review the whole situation, meet with you to hear what you have to say, and decide if:

  • the investigation process was carried out fairly
  • the conclusions were reasonable
  • any more can be done.

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Adult social care complaints

From 1st April 2009 a single complaints system was introduced for all health and local authority adult social care services in England.

The aims of the new process are to:

  • unify the current complaints processes across health and social care
  • focus on a new approach which is less bureaucratic and more open, flexible and personal
  • make it easier for organisations receiving complaints to respond properly and ensure people’s experiences help to improve services.

The new proposals challenge us all to resolve complaints more effectively by responding more personally and positively to people who are unhappy, and making sure we do not lose any opportunity to learn about and improve our services.

Resolution within 1 working day

As soon as someone tells us verbally that they are unhappy about a situation, incident or service, we need to decide quickly if the situation can be resolved to the customer’s satisfaction within 1 working day.

Once a customer has agreed to this type of resolution, and we have acted as agreed with the customer, the issue cannot be raised again at a later date by the customer through this complaints process.

The Adult Social Care complaints procedure

If someone raises a concern which is not resolvable within 1 working day, it will be registered within the Adult Social Care complaints procedure.

The handling and consideration of complaints in Adult Social Care goes through a 6 step process to make sure that the complaint is investigated properly:

  • Receipt and acknowledgement
  • Assessment
  • Investigation
  • Response
  • Resolution
  • Evaluation.

The relevant timescales are:

  • The complaint must be presented for investigation within 12 calendar months of the incident occurring, or of the incident coming to the attention of the customer
  • The complaint must be acknowledged within 3 working days of it being received by the Council, and a meeting offered at that time to the customer to discuss the complaint
  • The complaint process must be completed within 6 months of the complaint being received
  • The customer has 1 year in which to request concerns are considered further by the Local Government Ombudsman after the complaint has been investigated.

You will be asked how you want your complaint to be handled, and what you want to happen to put things right.

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Social care complaints – help us to get it right was last updated on March 31, 2017.