Complaints Policy and Procedure

Policy

1.0 General
1.1 This policy and procedure applies to all Missing Link, Next Link and Safe Link services. Hereafter, any reference solely to Missing Link applies to all of the above services unless otherwise specified.

1.2 Missing Link aims to provide high quality services to our service users and to any other agencies or individuals who we work with. This includes having a Complaints Procedure (See Appendix 1) which is transparent and which is open to anyone who feels that quality services have not been delivered.

1.3 Missing Link will support any service user, or third party acting on behalf of a service user, who feels dissatisfied with the standard of the service and /or feels that Missing Link has not adhered to its existing policies. This procedure should be used to make a complaint in this instance which will be investigated without prejudice.*

1.4 Examples of situations where a complaint can be made under this policy could include the following, although this list is not exhaustive:

  • where there is dissatisfaction with the service
  • where Missing Link has not followed its policies
  • where there is alleged misconduct by a member of staff
  • where a service user is experiencing difficulties with another service user. In this instance this could involve referring the case to another agency where Missing Link is unable to resolve the matter on its own
  • Professionals, partner agencies or public bodies dissatisfied with any part of our services
  • Neighbours of our properties wishing to raise disputes etc.

Note: If the complainant formally notifies Missing Link they wish to bring a financial claim against Missing Link, the Professional Indemnity insurers should be notified immediately and the insurer’s instructions should be followed rather than this complaints procedure, irrespective of what stage the complaints procedure has reached.

1.5 The procedure sets out what will happen when someone wishes to make a complaint about Missing Link and how it will be dealt with. A Complaints Procedure – Service Users Guide is also available. Any person wishing to make a complaint will be advised of this procedure.

1.6 All complaints will be dealt with sensitively and in accordance with Missing Link’s Confidentiality Policy.

1.7 Where a service user wishes to complain about another agency, Missing Link will refer her to their complaints procedure and offer assistance to enable her to make the complaint.

1.8 Details of how to make a complaint will be published in service user handbooks and welcome packs and members of the public and stakeholders can access information about our complaints procedure directly from our office and our website.

1.9 The overall responsibility for the Complaints Policy and Procedure is with the Director of Resources.

*It is not intended that this Procedure be used to request a review of any decision made that the person disagrees with where Missing Link has acted correctly and followed its procedures. A service user who disagrees with a decision and wishes that decision to be reconsidered should be referred to Missing Link’s ‘Review Procedure’.

2.0 General Principles
2.1 Any member of staff receiving a complaint must inform their Line Manager immediately. A complaint can be made verbally or in writing. Where it is made verbally, the person complaining should be asked to put their complaint in writing or offered assistance to do so.

2.2 A complaint can only be made by the person affected or by someone on their behalf.

2.3 The person making a complaint has the right to be represented except by any person who is currently excluded from any Missing Link service or by the person investigating the complaint.

2.4 Where the person wishes to be represented, they must inform Missing Link immediately with details of who their representative is and before the investigation into the complaint has been completed.

2.5 Missing Link reserves the right not to investigate anonymous complaints. However in some circumstances it may be appropriate for it to be investigated by the relevant Team Leader/Manager; otherwise it will be noted in the Quarterly Management Report as an anonymous complaint.

2.6 The investigation into a complaint against a member of staff will be conducted by the relevant Team Leader/Manager EXCEPT where the complaint is made against the Team Leader/Manager. In this instance, Stage 1 of the Complaints Procedure will be conducted by another Manager as appointed by the Director of Resources.

3.0 Complaints about other Service Users
3.1 Where a Service User wishes to make a complaint about another Service User, the matter should be managed with particular sensitivity.

3.2 The complainant’s confidentiality will be upheld wherever possible although they should be advised that they may be identified as the complainant in the course of enquiries being made. In this case, and where the complaint may lead to action being taken against another Service User, the complainant’s personal welfare and safety should always be upheld and they should be consulted in any decisions regarding her position.

3.3 The complainant’s keyworker should lead on the investigation into the matter and liaise with the keyworker of the person who is the subject of the complaint, if different, or with her Team Leader/Manager. Together, they should consider how the complaint should be managed. Where possible, the complainant should be involved in the outcome and must always be kept informed before action is taken.

3.4 In instances of a serious breach of Licence or Tenancy, a decision to act may have to be taken against the wishes of the complainant to ensure the Health and Safety of any parties affected. Action may not be taken before consideration is given to preparation necessary under paragraph 3.2 above or without consultation with the Team Leader/Manager.

4.0 Misuse of the Complaints Procedure
4.1 Missing Link undertakes, in the first instance, to investigate any complaint according to its merits.

4.2 Missing Link recognises that in some instances complaints can be made maliciously. Where this is found to be the case, the matter may be dealt with under the Organisation’s ‘Policy on Harassment’.

4.3 Missing Link reserves the right not to investigate a complaint where it could breach our commitment to confidentiality by disclosing a person’s use of our services.

5.0 Case file recording and record keeping
5.1 The person investigating the complaint will hold a file containing all relevant information.

5.2 A log will be kept of all complaints and the outcomes, for each service. Details will be stored in the Oasis Case Management System, Complaints Log.

6.0 Review of Complaints
6.1 The complaints log will be reviewed weekly by Team Leaders as part of the Oasis ‘housekeeping’.

6.2 Complaints and their outcomes will be included in a quarterly report to the Senior Management Team (SMT) for each service by the Service Manager.

6.3 Annually, each Service Manager will carry out an Annual Review of Complaints. A Complaint Learning Outcomes Report will be submitted to the Senior Managers Meeting (SMT) and any lessons learnt or policy/procedure changes necessary, will be discussed and agreed. A summary will be reported to the Trustees of Missing Link.

6.4 Any complaint that is taken to Stage 4 of the Complaints Procedure will be reported to the Trustees of Missing Link.

7.0  Policy Review
This policy will be reviewed on an annual basis.

Cross Reference:   

  • Confidentiality and Access to Records Policy
  • Disciplinary Policy
  • Policy on Warnings, Possessions and Evictions
  • Anti-harassment Policy and Procedure for Employees
  • Data Protection Policies

Appendix 1
Complaints Procedure

If additional assistance is required to make a complaint, we will endeavour to ensure support is arranged e.g. interpretation of other languages, literacy or communication difficulties, assistance for individuals who are visually or hearing impaired.

The following stages should be followed in any instance where a complaint is made about a member of staff or about the service.

Where a complaint is made about another service user, the procedure outlined in paragraph 3, above, should be followed.

The complaints procedure will be conducted according to the following stages in the order they appear.

Informal Complaints
Where possible and depending on the seriousness of the complaint, it should be dealt with informally. This means that it should be discussed with the keyworker who should attempt to resolve it.

Where it cannot be resolved informally, OR the complaint is of a serious nature, OR the complainant wishes to make a formal complaint Or a worker is included in the complaint, it must always be reported to the Team Leader/Manager who should follow the formal complaint procedure outlined in Stage 1 below.

Stage 1 – Formal
The Team Leader/Manager will send a written acknowledgement of the complaint within 2 working days. This will include information about the complaints procedure, timelines and any advice and assistance available.

The Team Leader/Manager has a further 5 working days to investigate the complaint. This could include the following:

  • interviewing the person affected
  • interviewing any witnesses
  • interviewing any staff involved
  • contacting any third party for further information.

Minutes of meetings & investigative notes will be recorded.

The outcome of the complaint will be issued within 3 working days following the investigation. Any extension to this time will be made with the agreement of the person making the complaint. Where an extension is not agreed, the Team Leader/Manager will make their report and recommendations on the information available to them.

When investigating the complaint, the Team Leader/Manager will consider whether there are grounds for upholding the complaint. This includes the following:

  • whether recognised standards of good practice were followed
  • whether decisions made and actions taken were consistent with Missing Link’s existing policies and procedures.

A response will be made to the complainant. This will include the following:

  • a history of the complaint
  • who was involved
  • action taken to investigate the incident
  • a summary of findings
  • whether the complaint is upheld/partially upheld/not upheld
  • recommendations for further action if applicable
  • information regarding the next stage of the procedure, if appropriate

Where the Team Leader/Manager upholds the complaint and regards it as serious, they should consider whether it is appropriate to address it with any staff member concerned under Missing Link’s Disciplinary Procedure. In this instance, the staff member is entitled to confidentiality and the outcome of any disciplinary action will not be disclosed to the complainant.

The response to the complaint can be notified verbally in the first instance or in writing. Where it is made verbally, this should be followed up in writing.

Stage 2
Where the complainant does not accept the findings or outcome of the investigation under Stage 1, they have the right to complain to the Missing Link, Next Link or Safe Link Service Manager.

The Service Manager will follow the steps outlined in Stage 1, above, in their investigation of the complaint.

The Service Manager will respond with their findings to the complainant within a further 5 working days.

Stage 3
Where the person does not accept the findings or outcome of the investigation conducted under Stage 2, they have a right to complain to the Director of Resources.

The Director of Resources will review all steps taken at Stage 1 and Stage 2.

The Director of Resources will respond with their findings to the complainant within a further 5 working days.

Stage 4
Where the person does not accept the findings or outcome of the investigation conducted under Stage 3, they have a right to complain to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Missing Link.

The CEO will review all the stages that have been taken and will make a decision which is final.

The CEO will respond with their findings to the complainant within a further 5 working days.

Any complaint that is taken to Stage 4 will be reported to the Trustees of Missing Link.

Further consideration
Where the complainant remains dissatisfied, they should be informed that they are entitled to seek independent advice. This could include taking the matter to the Housing Association’s Ombudsman.

The complainant is entitled to seek independent legal advice at any time.