Complaints Policy and Procedure
All complainants will have their complaint dealt with speedily and efficiently and in a respectful and sympathetic way.
BEAM ABA Services recognises the importance and value of an effective process of complaints handling as part of a comprehensive framework of quality improvement activity taking guidance from the recent NHS regulatory review and in line with the development and implementation of Clinical Governance.
BEAM ABA Services will ensure that the handling and consideration of complaints is auctioned appropriately, that the arrangements are in place to ensure complaints are dealt with speedily and efficiently.
That complainants are treated courteously and sympathetically and as far as possible involved in decisions about how their complaints are handled and considered.
This policy applies to all staff involved in the service provision on behalf of BEAM clinic including those on temporary contracts and/or employed as subcontractors.
BEAM ABA Services recognises the value of direct communications with clients and service users. Whilst continuously striving to improve services, BEAM accepts that causes for concern can arise. BEAM ABA Services sees constructive comments, suggestions and complaints as part of the process of maintaining and developing good quality reflective services.
In view of this, BEAM aims to deal with complaints as quickly, appropriately and as close to the source of the problem as possible. The organisation’s open culture aims to empower all staff, with the support of the BEAM Registered Manager and CEO, to deal with “complaints” (problems) informally at the point of service delivery.
In addition, by having a lean, open organisation BEAM believes it is easy
– For all staff to receive formal complaints and feed them into the complaints procedure.
– For complainants to receive a rapid, open, conciliatory response which meets the needs of the complainant whilst being fair to staff
– For complaints to have a high profile within the organisation
– For complaints to be used as a means of providing information to management in order that, where appropriate, services can be improved
BEAM ABA Services’ responsibilities in handling complaints are to:
− Investigate complaints against the organisation itself and the service it provides by local resolution or formal investigation as per the wishes of the complainant.
− Provide support to all its staff at local resolution stage
− Co-operate with any investigation requested if appropriate
− Co-operate with any investigation carried out by the Independent Review Panel
The CEO and Registered Manager are ultimately responsible for the quality of care within the organisation and is responsible for responding in writing to all complaints and for ensuring lessons learned are implemented.
The Registered Manager will receive reports at regular intervals detailing the cause of complaints and action taken to improved care/services.
Individual units will receive reports and discuss the cause of complaints at biannual quality meetings.
The continued development of effective complaints handling function will be implemented in line with the organisation’s Clinical Governance Development Plan and Risk Management Strategy.
Although compensation would normally need to be sought through legal channels, the organisation has the discretion to provide financial reimbursement of expenses or losses where fault has been found, for example, reimbursement of lost property.
Access to records
Where copies or access to records is provided as a part of the resolution of a complaint, these will be provided promptly and free of any charge.
The DOH reform of the complaints system (April 2009) identifies the new arrangements for handling complaints. The system allows for a flexible approach and encourages local resolution of complaints. Whilst still providing for a more formal investigation should the need arise.
BEAM recognises the value of direct communications with clients and service users and regards constructive comments, suggestions and complaints as part of the process of maintaining and developing services. BEAM ABA Services undertakes to investigate all complaints and incidents thoroughly and promptly.
Any complaint who remains dissatisfied with the outcome of the investigation has the right to refer to the Independent review panel.
All complainants have the right to notify the CQC of their complaint.
This policy takes guidance from the changes in procedure set out in the Care Acr 2014.
Resolution of Complaints
Complaints about BEAM ABA Services and the services it provides should be dealt with as follows:
Staff are encouraged in conjunction with their line manager to deal with concerns and request for Information to which they can provide an immediate response.
Where this is not possible BEAM must acknowledge receipt of a complaint within 3 working days.
Agree with the complainant in the manner in which they would like their complaint investigated (Local/ Formal) and an acceptable timeframe.
Investigate the complaint in a full and objective way
Write to the complainant on completion of the investigation, explaining how it has been resolved, and/or what appropriate action has been taken within 28 days.
Keep a record of all complaints, the results of investigations, the lessons learned and any actions implemented as a result.
Complaints across boundaries
Where complaints against BEAM ABA Services are part of a wider complaint, BEAM staff will work with other organisations to ensure a single coordinated response.
Who can make a complaint?
– A service user or client using the service
– Any other person affected or likely to be affected by the action
– Someone acting on behalf of a service user or client where the service user or client is unable to make the complaint themselves or has asked a person to make the complaint on their behalf
– Where the service user or client is unable to complain themselves, the representative will need to have, or had sufficient interest in their welfare and be an appropriate person to act on the service user’s or client’s behalf.
Exemptions to the complaints arrangements
– A complaint about one health or adult social services organisation against another
– Staff working, or contracted to the organisations regarding employment issues, contracts, pensions or complaints about one member of staff against another
– Complaints about requests for information under the Data Protection Act or Freedom of Information Act
– Where the complaint has already been investigated
– Privately covered adult social services including where a person uses direct payment provided by adult social services to purchase services.
– Where an investigation has already been carried out under the Local Government Act 1974 or by the Heath Service Commissioner under the 1993 Act.
Time limits to make a complaint
A complaint must be raised 12 months from the date the matter occurred or 12 months from the date the matter came to the notice of the complainant.
However, BEAM ABA Services staff should use their discretion to investigate beyond this time if there are good reasons for it and it is still possible to objectively investigate it.
Support for Complainants
There are a number of organisations that can support service users who wish to make a complaint:
Independent Complaints Advocacy Service (ICAS): POhWER Advocacy Agency.
Staff receiving complaints should be aware of and take steps to support people with special needs, (learning disability, hearing impairment or unfamiliar with the English language), to make a complaint.
Support for Staff
The receipt of a complaint can be an extremely stressful experience for any member of staff. The implication that in some way or shape the care that was provided has been perceived as being anything but of the highest quality can have a considerable impact on a person’s functioning.
BEAM is committed to ensuring that all staff are supported during the complaints process by:
– Ensuring fairness, openness and impartiality during complaints investigations.
– Ensuring that all staff have an opportunity to comment on any responses made.
– Accepting where something has gone wrong and apologise for it.
– Equally, if the complaint is unfounded or incorrect fully support both our staff and the service or services questioned.
If you are not satisfied with the decision made, or the way your complaint was treated, you can appeal. If you have not already done so, you should put your complaint in writing, and send it to Zoe Blake, CEO, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 17-19 Chalton Street, NW1 1JD.
You will get an acknowledgement of your complaint within 7 days. The person that you contacted will then investigate your complaint and send you an explanation of what is to be done about within 28 days.
If the complainant is unhappy with the second stage response from BEAM, complainants are able to contact the Care Quality Commission in order to inform them of any concerns that they may have about the regulated service.
Service Improvements, Clinical Governance and Performance Monitoring
Learning from Complaints
BEAM ABA Services’ CEO should use the issues raised in individual complaints to explore and, where appropriate, initiate service improvements. Where appropriate an action plan should be drawn up, a copy of which should be sent to the Registered Manager who will monitor the implementation of actions undertaken.
Monitoring and Reporting
The BEAM CEO and Registered Manager will produce a report to the board biannually detailing the number of complaints and causes with an analysis of the issues raised, recommendations to address the issues, actions taken as a result of the recommendations and evidence that the actions have been implemented
In addition, an annual report will – specify the numbers of complaints received;
– identify the subject matter of those complaints;
– Whether they upheld or not
– Whether referred to the Ombudsman
– A narrative of significant issues through the year
Managing persistent complainants
This section sets out our approach to the very few complainants who may persistently use our complaints procedure to the extent that it becomes impossible to operate effectively.
Persistent complainants are those whose contacts with BEAM, by their frequency, nature or tone significantly hinder the consideration of their own or other people’s complaints.
Complainants includes anyone acting on behalf of a service user or who contacts BEAM ABA Services in connection with a complaint.
The principles set out in this policy also apply to our dealings with people other than complainants.
We seek to:
We recognise that the persistent complainant may have a genuine grievance and that being persistent can be a positive advantage when pursuing a complaint.
How we aim to manage these complainants will depend upon their nature and extent. If their persistence adversely affects our ability to do our work and provide a service to others, we may need to manage their unacceptable behaviour by restricting their contact with our service.
Any restrictions applied will be appropriate and proportionate to the nature of the complainant’s contacts with BEAM at that time. The following are examples of the types of restriction which may be used:
Wherever possible, we seek to apply restrictions in a way which allows a complaint to progress to completion through our complaints process. We will try to maintain at least one form of contact.
A persistent complainant is likely to start by being unhappy with the level of service delivery and persist in demanding unreasonable levels of service from the provider. If this is the problem, then it is for the Registered Manager to decide whether or not the service received has been reasonable. In deciding whether or not they have provided adequate service, consideration will be given as to whether it complies with the law, relevant guidelines or service standards agreed by BEAM. If the provider considers that further investigation is unjustified the complainant will be advised that we will not necessarily respond to further service requests. If a complainant persists with requests for service, application of one or more of the above restrictions will be considered.
Deciding to Restrict Complainant Contact
Before making any decision to restrict contact, the complainant will, wherever possible, be warned that, if the specified behaviour or actions continue, we will consider applying some or all of the restrictions set out above. Decisions about applying this policy will only be taken after careful consideration of the situation by the Registered Manager.
He/she will consider whether:
• the complainant is raising legitimate concerns
• the complaint is or has been investigated properly
• any decision reached was the right one
• communications with the complainant have been adequate
• the complainant is now providing any significant new information that might affect our view of the complaint.
• Any circumstances that relate to the complainant’s mental health, age, gender, sexual orientation, belief or disability have been considered In deciding which restrictions are appropriate, careful consideration will be given to balancing the rights of the individual with the need to ensure other complainants and our employees do not suffer any disadvantage and BEAM resources are used as effectively as possible.
Appealing a Decision to Restrict Contact
A complainant can appeal a decision to restrict contact. The appeal will be considered by the CEO or designated representative, whoever was not involved in the original decision. They will advise the complainant in writing whether the restricted contact arrangements still apply or a different course of action has been agreed.
Recording and Reviewing a Decision to Restrict Contact
We will record all contacts with persistent complainants. Where it is decided to restrict contact, an entry noting this will be made in the relevant file. A decision to restrict contact may be reconsidered if the complainant demonstrates a more acceptable approach.
We will review the status of all complainants with restricted contact arrangements on a regular basis.
We will keep a register of those subject to this policy.
When a decision has been taken not to carry on responding to correspondence, any further letters, faxes or emails from the complainant will be read to pick up any significant new information. When persistent complainants make new complaints about new issues these will be treated on their merits and decisions will need to be taken on whether any restrictions which have been applied before are still appropriate and necessary.