Aims and Objectives
Related Policy and Procedure
- Stage 1: Informal Complaints
- Stage 2: Formal Complaints
- Stage 3: The Appeals Process
- Stage 4: Referral to Social Services Complaints Procedure
The role of National Mind
Recording and Monitoring Complaints
Aims and Objectives
Tameside Oldham and Glossop Mind are committed to providing a comprehensive and high quality range of services to the public. We endeavour to ensure that these services are delivered in line with our mission statement; meet the needs of the public and our service level agreements. In delivering these services we aim to treat anyone who accesses our services with dignity and respect.
As with any service we will not always get things right. We are only human and we all make mistakes, misunderstandings arise, or we may fail to provide what was promised by us.
We hope that in the majority of cases such issues can be resolved there and then or a simple apology or explanation will suffice. Occasionally this is not the case and the complaints policy and procedure should be referred to.
There are three main reasons we have a Public Complaints Policy and Procedure.
- Tameside Oldham and Glossop Mind believes it is only right that anyone who accesses our services has the opportunity to complain if they feel let down and for that complaint to be heard and investigated. We also allow an appeal procedure to be accessed should the complainant not be satisfied with the outcome of an investigated complaint.
- As part of our Service Level Agreement with our funders we are required to operate a complaints procedure. It is also a requirement of our affiliation with National Mind.
- Tameside Oldham and Glossop Mind welcomes complaints as they are one of many ways by which problems with a service may be identified and lead to improvements.
For the purposes of this document, the following two definitions are provided as examples:
“An expression of dissatisfaction, either written or spoken. A complaint may be made by an individual or a group. You may wish to complain if you are not satisfied with the way you have been treated or the service you have received...’
(National Mind 2009)
Or more simply;
“Any expression of dissatisfaction that needs a response.”
(Cabinet Office 1998)
This policy applies to anyone accessing our services, and is to be considered as a procedure by paid staff and volunteers in the event of anyone making a complaint (whether informal or formal).
Related Policy and Procedure
This policy should be read in conjunction with all service policies.
The Public Complaints Policy and Procedure is primarily aimed at any member of the public who has had, or has attempted to receive services from Tameside Oldham and Glossop Mind. In practice, how this is then dealt with depends on the nature of the complainant.
This procedure does not cover complaints made by paid workers, volunteers or trustees who need to follow agreed grievance, disciplinary, volunteer policy or other internal procedures.
In some cases a person may wish to complain on behalf of someone else. This is known as by a third party. Careful consideration will be given in these cases to ascertain that the person who does wish to complain or that there is a level of cognitive deficiency that makes the person unable to make this judgement. Consideration will also be given to issues of confidentiality. In some cases Tameside Oldham and Glossop Mind may wish to invite the opinion of an independent specialist to advise on this matter. In all cases of third party complaints, Tameside Oldham and Glossop Mind may choose not to accept them as valid.
The procedure has 4 stages:
Stage 1 Informal Complaint
Stage 2 Formal Complaint (including investigation)
Stage 3 Appeal
Stage 4 Referral to Social Services Complaints Procedure
Stage 1: Informal Complaints.
It is anticipated that the majority of complaints can be addressed at this stage. Any worker may be able to respond to straightforward or simple complaints, while more specific or detailed complaints may be better addressed by the relevant paid worker. Informal complaints can largely be made verbally and with an immediate response. However, this does not preclude the person placing this in writing, or the response being made after time to consider it has elapsed. Unless there is good reason, all informal complaints should be responded to within 10 working days.
Someone accessing our service asks a volunteer/worker when they failed to meet for an agreed appointment/visit. The volunteer/worker apologises and explains they got caught up on a phone call and an alternative time is arranged. The person complaining accepts this and no further action is taken.
Stage 2: Formal Complaint
Any complaint that cannot be resolved informally can be addressed by a formal investigation if the complainant wishes to pursue this route. The process of the formal complaint should be completed within 15 working days unless there is good reason for the delay.
This has 8 stages to it:
1 Receipt of the Complaint
It is preferable but not essential that the complaint is made in writing and assistance should be offered to do so by someone not directly involved in the matter. If the complaint is made verbally this should be a brief description of the matter and should not preclude stage 3 for a more thorough discussion.
2 Acknowledging Receipt of the Complaint
This will be made in writing and detail the following:
· The name and contact details of the complaints investigator. This will usually be the manager unless he/she is the subject of the complaint in which case the contact details for another manager, the Director or a member of the Executive Committee will be provided.
· A request to make contact to arrange a meeting.
· An explanation of the stages of the formal complaints process. This may be a copy of this document.
· An inquiry as to if they have any particular support needs such as an interpreter or emotional support of a friend.
3 Meeting the Complainant
The main aim of this is to gain a better understanding of the nature and circumstances surrounding the complaint. Notes will be made by the investigator and these must be signed by both parties to say they are a true reflection of the meeting. This should be done within 3 working days of the meeting.
It may be possible to resolve the matter at this stage. If so, this should be put in writing to the complainant and any other individuals concerned. The letter should also make it clear that no further action needs to be taken.
If it is not possible to resolve the matter then the investigation moves onto the next stage. The complainant should be informed in writing that this will require their initial complaint and subsequent minutes of meetings about the complaint being shared with others involved in the matter.
Anyone involved in the complaint and any relevant witnesses will be given a copy of the complaint and subsequent minutes and to then provide a written statement responding to this. Support will be offered where necessary.
The investigator may then choose to make a decision based on this information or to follow these up by interviewing some or all of those who have made statements. Notes will be kept of such meetings and signed and dated by the investigator.
5 Decision on the Outcome of the Investigation
The investigator will then make a decision as to whether or not there are grounds for the complaint and what, if any, recommended. This may be aided by a discussion with a member of the Executive Committee.
6 Letter to the Complainant.
A letter will be sent to the complainant and will address the following items:
· A historical summary of what the investigation entailed.
· A response to each and every item of complaint, indicating whether or not the complaint was upheld and the reasons for this.
· A summary of any action or change of practice that will arise from the investigation.
· Where appropriate, an apology.
· An explanation of what steps the complainant should take if they are still dissatisfied and wish to take the matter further (The Appeal).
7 Informing relevant Workers and Committee Members
All workers (paid or unpaid) and Committee Members involved in the complaint should be informed of the outcome of the investigation. The complaint and its outcome should also be tabled on the agenda for the next Committee Meeting.
8 Follow up Action
Where any action or change of practice has been identified this should be allocated to a specific person and a deadline set.
Stage 3: The Appeal Process.
If the complainant is dissatisfied with the outcome of the investigation then they have the right to appeal to the Executive Committee. The Committee will convene a panel led by the Chairperson or another named Committee member. This person will take the lead in the appeal and also hold the casting vote if this is necessary.
Membership of the panel will be restricted to people who have had no previous involvement in the investigation of the complaint.
The panel may review the evidence gathered so far and may also, if they choose, conduct further enquires in a similar manner to the initial investigation.
The process should be completed within 21 working days. This time scale reflects the fact that many Committee members also have full time employment.
A letter should then go out to the complainant set out in a similar way to the letter following the first investigation and in particular, highlighting where the appeal agrees or differs to the first investigation.
It should also explain that the internal complaints procedure is now exhausted and no further correspondence will be entered into. The letter should finally explain that if they are still dissatisfied they should use the Social Services Complaints Procedure as stipulated in our Service Level Agreements.
Stage 4: Referral to Local Authority’s Complaints Procedure
The Appeal Process above constitutes the final phase of Tameside Oldham and Glossop Mind’s Public Complaint Policy and Procedure. After this, no further correspondence or discussion will be entered into. However, as detailed in our Service Level Agreements, the public do have the right to complain externally using the local authority’s Complaints Procedure. Complainants should be informed how to contact them. As of January 2010, the contact details are:
Tameside & Glossop Services:
The Role of National Mind
“National Mind does not routinely investigate complaints about Local Mind Associations(LMA’s). LMAs are independent charities; hence the trustees of the association are responsible for dealing with complaints as they are ultimately accountable for the charity. Mind would only become involved after the association’s own complaint procedure had become exhausted. This would be with the consent of all parties involved and involvement would be limited to a review of the complaints handling process, not an investigation of the complaint.” (Handling Complaints, National Mind, July 2003).
In circumstances where time limits cannot be met due to unforeseen circumstances, complainants will be notified in writing. The reasons for the delay with adjusted timescales will be supplied by the person responsible for handling the complaint.
Recording and Monitoring Complaints
Each manager within the organisation will be responsible for ensuring a record of all complaints relevant to their services is maintained in a format agreed by the Director. These will be reviewed as part of the policy cycle on an ongoing basis. The Director will be responsible for collating information about complaints and furnishing the Executive Committee on an annual basis with details of the totality of complaints received, main reasons for complaints, outcomes and how any underlying problems have been resolved.
The organisation will also use this information as part of our contract monitoring meetings.