Complaints Policy Policy Statement
One Family is committed to taking seriously any complaint that concerned individuals have about the service. It believes that if an individual wishes to make a complaint or register a concern they should find it easy to do so.
This policy is intended to ensure that complaints are dealt with properly and addressed in a professional manner and that improvements are made as a result of complaints.
This policy covers all actions to be taken in respect to a complaint by a concerned individual. Concerned individuals can include: service users, members of the local community and concerned stakeholders (funders, external agencies, etc.). A complaint by a member of staff is addressed through the grievance process (see Grievance Procedure). Difficulties in relation to harassment or equality should be dealt with through the relevant policies in the Employee Handbook.
Complaints can be made against any aspect of One Family.
While all complaints need to be addressed, the scope of this policy is principally concerned with expressions of dissatisfaction for which the involvement of management would be necessary rather than informal feedback.
This policy forms part of the range of feedback and evaluation policies and procedures that One Family offers.
- It is One Family’s policy to welcome complaints and look upon them as an opportunity to learn, adapt, improve and provide better services.
- All complaints should be responded to and then resolved promptly, and within the timescale outlined.
- One Family supports the concept that most complaints, if dealt with early, openly and honestly, can be sorted out at a local level between just the complainant and the organisation.
- Complainants should be consulted about what they would like to happen about their complaint.
- All persons involved should be supported and given appropriate assistance throughout the process.
- Investigation and communication will follow principles of natural justice and will respect all parties.
- The complaints process will be well publicised. Service users and their representatives should be aware of how to complain, and that the organisation provides easy to use opportunities for them to register their complaints.
- All complaints must be properly recorded in a consistent manner. Complaints should be kept at a centralised location and monitored for quality purposes.
- People may wish to provide constructive feedback rather than a complaint and this should be facilitated.
- Complainants may also wish to withdraw their complaint. However One Family may need to continue an investigation if the complaint is deemed significant enough and depending on the grounds for withdrawal.
- Complaints Procedure
- Who can complain?
- Anyone who is a client of One Family.
- An advocate may complain on the service user’s behalf provided they have the service user’s written consent.
- A parent / guardian may complain on behalf of a child who is a client.
- Any member of the local community, the community of one-parent families and professionals working with them.
- Anyone who is an organisational member of One Family or who engages with us on social media, policy work etc.
- Any external stakeholder (funders, external agencies, etc.).
- A concerned individual can complain about any aspect of the service that has impacted on them or the organisation they represent in a way that they perceive to be negative.
- What can complaints be about?
- Any aspect of the work of One Family
- A decision made about a client, member, social media follower
- A member of the One Family Team
- A One Family policy position, communications, campaign etc.
- How can complaints be made?
- All complaints should be made to the Service Manager whereby the complaint lies.
- The Service Manager will bring the complaint to the attention of the CEO, however the Service Manager will implement the Complaints policy firstly to resolve the complaint at hand and reduce escalation of the issue.
- If the complaint is about the Service Manager then the complaint should be dealt with by another Service Manager or the CEO, whichever is deemed more appropriate at the time.
All complaints should ultimately be referred to the CEO. If the complaint is against the CEO, the complaint should be made to the Chairperson of the Board on firstname.lastname@example.org
All verbal or informal complaints or feedback, no matter how seemingly unimportant should be taken seriously. The team member who receives the verbal complaint may be able to resolve the issue and informal resolution of any difficulty is always desirable. However the complainant should always be offered the following options:
- To make a written/formal complaint;
- To elevate the complaint to the Service Manager for response
- To elevate the complaint further to the CEO for response;
- To provide feedback anonymously or identifiably through the Feedback form and box.
The team member should note the verbal complaint in a Complaint Register which is a physical book kept in the Admin office noting date; time; name of person/organisation making the complaint; nature of the complaint; resolution if any; and named manager handling the complaint. Contact details for the complainant should also be recorded.
If the verbal complaint is in relation to a member of the One Family Team please see the next section.
The CEO should be informed of all complaints on an ongoing basis by team members or their line managers. The complaints Register is kept by the Admin & Finance Manager.
Complaints involving the One Family Team:
All complaints about the One Family Team will be taken seriously and the complainant will be asked if they would like to make a formal complaint that will be investigated or would they like to provide informal constructive feedback.. The complainant should immediately be referred to the Service Line Manager for this conversation (unless the complaint is in relation to her and if so referral should be to another Service Manager. At any time the Service Manager or the complainant can escalate the complaint to the CEO.
If the complaint is formal it will need to be written up either directly by the complainant or by the person handling the complaint. An agreed process and timeline will be written up for an investigation into the complaint as needed. An investigation may not be warranted by the person handling the complaint and s/he may communicate directly back to the complainant in writing to this effect. All communication should also be brought to the attention of the CEO just for transparency. If an investigation is warranted then the person handling the complaint will determine who is most appropriate to undertake the investigation inline with their line manager. As soon as possible the team member will be informed about the complaint in relation to them and informed about the investigation process and timeline. The objective will be to resolve the complaint to everyone’s satisfaction if possible using principles of natural justice and with an awareness of relevant legislation.
Complaint Record Forms are available in Client Folders in public areas of Cherish House, on www.onefamily.ie or by request from any team member.
Written or formal complaints should be passed to the Service Manager and the CEO/Chair as appropriate for review. Copies of the Complaints Record Form will be made available and if possible complainants should be directed to this but written feedback will be accepted in any form.
Following review of the written complaint, the Service Manager and /or the CEO/Chair will devise a draft proposal in relation to the investigation steps and timeline and will communicate directly with the complainant in the first instance. The Service Manager or CEO/Chair will determine who is most appropriate to undertake the investigation. If the written complaint is in relation to a One Family Team Member the section above will be followed.
The appointed investigator will use the agreed process and timeline to investigate the complaint using methods such as minuted conversations with complainant, written correspondence, relevant One Family team members, other clients or other relevant parties. The investigation may also have reference to relevant policies, procedures and other documents either from One Family or a stakeholder. The investigation will respect all principles of natural justice, respect, good communication and will not undermine any aspects of the Employee Handbook or relevant legislation. All parties will be informed that they are welcome to have someone appropriate (but not a legal representative) with them for meetings, all parties will sign all relevant minutes and if necessary the appointed investigator will seek additional expertise if necessary from inside or outside One Family.
If the complaint is made on the client/member’s behalf, then their consent must be obtained from the complainant.
The purpose of the investigation will be to establish all relevant facts in relation to the complaint and to identify recommendations and/or ameliorative actions if appropriate. If the complainant’s proposed outcome is not judged satisfactory by the organisation, the complainant will be provided with a written rationale for the decision. These will be minuted on the Complaint Record Form.
The investigation will be completed within ten working days (unless otherwise agreed) and relevant parties, but particularly the complainant will be informed of any outcomes in writing and verbally.
If the complaint raises potentially serious matters, advice should be sought from a legal advisor. If legal action is taken at this stage any investigation by the organisation under the complaints procedure should cease immediately.
- Appeals Process:
If one of the parties to the complaints process is not satisfied with the outcome of the investigation, a meeting should be set up with the Service Manager, CEO and if appropriate the Chairperson/HR expert on the Board of One Family within four weeks. The complainant and/or the respondent will be entitled to bring a family member or an appropriate advocate who is not a legal representative. The minutes and any recommendations of this meeting will be communicated in writing and verbally within five working days.
The decision of this committee is final and the complainant will be considered to have exhausted all avenues within One Family.
- Anonymous Complaints
Anonymous complaints or complaints made under a false identity raise both practical problems and issues concerning fairness. The reason for this is that an investigation cannot be undertaken. Of particular importance is the fact that a member of the One Family team cannot properly respond to the issues raised if a complaint has been made in this way. The Service Manager and or CEO/Chair may also not be in position to undertake any remedial actions where there is not a full agreement on the issue as described in the complaint.
In the event that an anonymous complaint is received One Family will note the issues raised and, where necessary try and resolve them appropriately. An anonymous complaint may still be referred for investigation however in the following circumstances:
- If there was good reason why the complaint was being made on an anonymous basis, for example, if there was a concern by the complainant that if their identity was revealed it could lead to adverse consequence on their health or well-being. This may depend on the seriousness of the allegation being made, and should be at the discretion of the CEO/Chair.
- If the allegation can be properly investigated by reference toa third party witness, or documented evidence provided with the complaint without need for further contact with the complainan
- If the complaint involves a minor. That being the case, all complaints should be investigated and handled in a confidential manner according to the Child Protection Policy.
- Written Records
All complaints will be recorded in writing as already described, relevant documents include:
- Complaints Register for verbal/informal complaints
- Complaints Records Form, will be stored centrally by investigator ie CEO or Chair. Each complainant will have a file and a communication log will be maintained in the file in relation to all contact, meetings, conversations, emails etc. This should be in line with all relevant steps of the Complaints Policy and should be transparent and available to all parties involved in the specific complaint as requested.
- Complaints Process diagram for clients and staff available in Client Folder and online
- One Family Team Members personnel files if the disciplinary process has been invoked as part of the outcome of an investigation into a complaint. Then relevant documentation will be recorded as per the Disciplinary Policy.
- Oversight of complaints:
Investigation, review and outcomes from complaints are undertaken at the highest levels in One Family – either by Service Line Managers, the CEO or Chair of the Board. Written records will be maintained in relation to all complaints and all actions in relation to them according to data protection guidelines.
It is the written policy of One Family that an overview of all complaints is taken to the annual Board away-day meeting as part of regular governance reviews and all Service Managers will report to the CEO regularly on complaints received which will allow the CEO to report to the Board via written reports on the numbers and status of complaints.
One Family is obliged to report complaints in relation to HSE SHCPP funded services to them biannually.