It is the policy of the Home that young people’s wishes and feelings will be respected and taken into account in all aspects of their care.
It is important that children and young people living at the Home know how to complain if they are unhappy with any aspect of their care, feel comfortable with the process, and know that they will receive a proper response to any complaint.
Staff should encourage children to share any concerns about their care or other matters as soon as they arise. Children must be able to take up issues or make a complaint with support and without any fear that this will result in any adverse consequences. The staff must ensure that the children in their care understand their rights as a looked-after child, or child living in a children’s home. Children will be informed of how to contact the Office of the Children’s Commissioner for advice and assistance about their rights and entitlements.
Complaints and suggestions are encouraged and welcomed as a way of ensuring that any dissatisfaction with the quality of service provided by the Home is brought to the attention of the Registered Manager/On-Call Duty Manager as quickly as possible. All complaints will be taken seriously, will be fully investigated, handled quickly, sympathetically and confidentially, and, where necessary, improvements made.
Our aim is to deal with complaints efficiently and fairly, and, wherever possible, to achieve a resolution which is satisfactory to both the complainant and the Home. This Policy document will be provided to any resident, or their representative, upon request.
2. Cross – Reference
P5-1 - Consultation and Partnership Working
P7-1 - Supporting Young People
P12-4 - Notification of Significant Events
P12-5 - Safeguarding – Allegations Against Staff
P14-3 – Home Records and Archiving
Children Homes Regulations 2015 (including the Quality Standards)
Regulation 39 and
Standard 7 Children’s Wishes and Feelings
Standard 13 Leadership and Management
The Children's Act 2004
4. Verbal Complaints
Verbal complaints will be dealt with in the same manner as a written complaint (see point 5). All staff working at the Home are potentially recipients of verbal complaints. The priority will be for the staff member to consider the severity of the complaint, whether it is related to any element of safeguarding or low level in terms of the young person being ‘disgruntled or frustrated’ by decisions made or with behaviour of others.
Staff should discuss the verbal complaint with their line-manager at the earliest opportunity to ensure that it is defined and responded to appropriately. Low level verbal complaints may be recorded as a ‘Suggestion/Grumble’ – see point 10.
To try to avoid complaints there will be regular opportunities for young people to express their wishes in formal and informal ways. This might be through the forum of a weekly children’s meeting, regular key work sessions or simply through asking to speak to a member of staff about an issue that is causing concern. All young people will be encouraged to express their views even about minor issues with the aim of resolving concerns before they give rise to a complaint.
Children are provided with information upon admission regarding how to complain and the homes’ procedure to respond. They are also issued with information to various other organisations that they may wish to contact should they want to; these include the Children’s Commissioner, ChildLine, NSPCC.
As per policy P5-1 (Consultation and Partnership Working), the principle of listening to young people and taking their views into account when planning and undertaking their care is paramount. Young people will be given the opportunity to participate in and shape the overall ethos, nature and routine of the home they live in and the opinions and views of young people and their parents/carers, Social Workers, IRO and any other significant professional will be sought and ascertained on a regular and frequent basis.
5. Written Complaints
• All written complaints should be addressed (or forwarded) to the Registered Manager / Deputy Manager.
• A blank complaints form can be found in the Young Person’s guide and in the allocated location next to the complaints post box, or can be obtained by asking a member of staff. The completed form should then be posted in the ‘Complaints/Suggestions’ box. Staff check the complaints box at least twice within 24hrs and this is recorded on the homes handover record.
• Any complaint regarding the Registered Manager should be addressed to:
Registered Responsible Person (Children’s Homes)
6. Governing principles for dealing with complaints
All complaints will be recorded in the Register maintained forthis purpose. The Register will be updated monthly and saved on Charms.
All complaints should be fully investigated and responded to, regardless if the child / young person wishes to retract it at any time.
All complaints will be acknowledged within one working days of receipt. (This follows our flow chart timescale).
All complaints will be investigated, and a written response given within 10 working days. The written response will address the issues raised in the complaint, and provide information about what action (if any) has been taken, or is to be taken, by way of resolution.
All records relating to the complaint, including copies of all correspondence etc. will be saved onto Charms under ‘Establishment’ with relevant progress action and copied to the child’s electronic file.
No person who is the subject of a formal complaint may take any responsibility for consideration of a response to that complaint.
No person will suffer any form of harassment or reprisal for making a complaint.
Any complaint, which concerns child protection/ safeguarding issues, will be referred immediately to the Registered Manager / Deputy Manager / On call Duty Manager who will provide guidance on responding and reporting.
Any complaint that is deemed as serious and involves a staff member working at the home shall be referred to Designated Officer of the homes local authority for guidance and reported to Ofsted as a Notification of Significant Events (see P12-4 and P12-5) – this would be recorded as an Allegation, rather than a complaint. Allegations will also be recorded on the homes Complaint Register.
Where it is considered at the outset that the ‘10 working day response’ target is unlikely to be met, then a more realistic assessment will be made and the complainant informed.
If a target date is missed then the complainant will be informed of the reason(s) why, given a new target date, and kept regularly informed of progress made. It is hoped that all complaints may be dealt with satisfactorily within the governing principles described above. However, if the complainant or his/her representative is not satisfied then he/she will be advised to refer the complaint, together with an explanation of why dissatisfaction remains, in writing to:
Registered Responsible Person (Children’s Homes)
The timescales for response are as before:
• A further letter of acknowledgement will be sent within one working day, and
• A review of the complaint/ action taken will be considered and further information sought if appropriate
• The Registered Home Manager/Investigator will meet with the young person within three working days of receiving the complaint.
• A further written response will be provided within 10 working days on completion of this process
If the “10 working day target” is likely to be missed, the complainant will be kept informed. It is hoped that following further review and response, the complainant is satisfied with the way the matter has been handled, and the response which has been given and the matter comes to a close. However, if the complainant remains dissatisfied, then they should be referred to the placing authority.
• The Registered Home Manager will have all communications, recordings and documents saved onto Charms and the Complaint Register will signpost to how this can be easily located. The Manager will meet with the young person seven days after resolution to ensure they are satisfied.
7. Advocacy Services
There may on occasion be a need for a complainant to use the services of an advocate in presenting/preparing his/her case. In exceptional circumstances, for example, the complaint is regarding the Registered Manager; the complainant may seek the support and assistance of his/her Social Worker.
Young people are provided with their Local Authority Advocacy Service and the Independent Review Officer (IRO) contact details upon admission or at the earliest opportunity of it being provided by the social worker.
The Home will also have a copy of the placing authority complaints procedure.
The young person will be provided with the address for Ofsted, should they not be happy with the outcome or wish to take the complaint to them:
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8. Legal Intervention
This complaints procedure is designed to ensure, as far as possible, that complaints regarding the services provided by the Home are dealt with internally, and, hopefully, to the satisfaction of the resident and/or their representative. However, if it is immediately apparent that the matter is to be referred, by the complainant, to a Solicitor, then the relative informality of the review process is immediately compromised. If such a situation arises, either at the outset, or during the complaints procedure, then the complainant will be informed that the complaints procedure is no longer in operation, and that the matter is to be immediately referred to Solicitors and/or Insurers who represent the interests of the Home.
9. External Complaints
Where complaints are received from external sources they will be referred immediately to the Registered / Deputy / On call Duty Manager who will contact the complainant and confirm the nature/seriousness of the complaint. The Registered Manager or his/her nominated person will undertake the necessary investigation. The home Statement of Purpose also covers the process for how external stakeholders can complain should they wish to do so; the Homes2inspire website provides a 24/7 phone line for any queries to be raised www.homes2inspire.co.uk
Our home appreciates that there may be occasions when individuals wish to raise concerns externally to the home management or direct organisation; it is accepted that individuals have the right to raise their concerns with our registration and governing body, who is Ofsted.
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10. Suggestions/ Grumbles
The Home recognises that complaints are often difficult to make, and that “bureaucratic” processes are unlikely to be welcomed by young people. The Home, therefore, encourages suggestions on any matter connected with an individual’s care plan, their treatment within the Home, the operation of the Home, meal arrangements, etc., as a means of dealing with any dissatisfaction. Staff record on a daily basis (Daily observation) as an overview of their day and any low level concerns they may raise.
On occasions when a child / young person may raise a suggestion or grumble with a staff member directly this should be recorded as such on Charms ‘Suggestion/ Grumble’ and sent to the Home & Deputy Manager for electronic signature. These are quality assured by manager to ensure that this is not an issue that should be defined as a complaint and ensure that each entry has been responded to appropriately.
11. Quality Assurance/ Governance
The home reports all complaints through monthly reports and key performance indicators. These are monitored and reviewed during monthly strategic meetings to reflect upon outcomes, learning and if any changes to procedures are required.
The home welcomes the Independent Visitor every month; they review any complaints made and include these into their report to the organisation and Ofsted.
The manager is responsible for monitoring any complaints at the home and tracking themes so they can utilise the learning to improve the care provided to children; these are reflected in the bi-annual Quality of Care review (Regulation 45).