1.1 This procedure applies to all Missing Link and Next 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 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:
1.5 This procedure sets out what will happen when someone wishes to make a complaint about Missing Link and how it will be dealt with. A service users’ guide is also available here. 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 ‘Policy on Confidentiality’.
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.
*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 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 Complaints made and their outcomes will be included in the Monthly Management Report for each service and an annual report to the Management Committee.
2.6 In some circumstances it may be appropriate for a complaint which is made anonymously to be investigated by the relevant manager; otherwise it will be noted in the Monthly Management Report as an anonymous complaint.
2.7 The investigation into a complaint against a member of staff will be conducted by the relevant manager EXCEPT where the complaint is made against a service manager. In this instance, Stage 1 of the Complaints Procedure will be conducted by another Manager as appointed by the Director.
3.0 Complaints Procedure
3.1 The following stages should be followed in any instance where a complaint is made about a member of staff or about the service.
3.2 Where a complaint is made about another service user, the procedure outlined in paragraph 5 below should be followed.
3.3 The complaints procedure will be conducted according to the following stages in the order they appear.
3.4.1 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 keyworker is included in the complaint, it should always be reported to the manager who should follow the procedure outlined in Stage 1 below.
3.5 Stage 1 – Formal
3.5.1 The manager will send a written acknowledgement of the complaint within 2 working days. This will include information about the complaints procedure and any advice and assistance available.
3.5.2 The manager has a further 5 working days to investigate the complaint. This could include the following:
3.5.3 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 manager will make their report and recommendations on the information available to them.
3.5.4 When investigating the complaint, the manager will consider whether there are grounds for upholding the complaint. This includes the following:
3.5.5 A response will be made to the complainant. This will include the following:
3.5.6 Where the manager upholds the complaint and regards it as serious, she 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.
3.5.7 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.
3.6 Stage 2
3.6.1 Where the complainant does not accept the findings or outcome of the investigation under Stage 1, she has a right to complain to the Director of Missing Link.
3.6.2 The Director will follow the steps outlined in Stage 1, paragraph 3.5 above in her investigation of the complaint under Stage 2.
3.7 Stage 3
3.7.1 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 Chair of the Management Committee of Missing Link.
3.7.2 The Chair will follow the steps outlined in Stage 1, paragraph 3.5 above in her investigation of the complaint under Stage 3.
3.7.3 The Chair of the Management Committee can nominate other Management Committee members or an independent person to complete the investigation where they deem this appropriate.
4.0 Further consideration
4.1 Where the complainant remains dissatisfied, she should be informed that she is entitled to seek independent advice. This could include taking the matter to the Housing Association’s Ombudsman.
4.2 The complainant is entitled to seek independent legal advice at any time.
5.0 Complaints about other service users
5.1 Where a service user wishes to make a complaint about another service user, the matter should be managed with particular sensitivity.
5.2 The complainant’s confidentiality will be upheld wherever possible although she should be advised that she 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 she should be consulted in any decisions regarding her position.
5.3 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 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.
5.4 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 5.2 above or without consultation with the Manager.
6.0 Misuse of the Complaints Procedure
6.1 In no way does Missing Link confuse misuse of this procedure with the circumstances outlined in paragraphs 1.3 and 1.4 above and undertakes, in the first instance, to investigate any complaint according to its merits.
6.2 However, 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’.
7.0 Case file recording and record keeping
The person investigating the complaint will hold a file containing all relevant information.
Please contact Missing Link for copies of related policies.