How to Respond to and Manage Comments and Complaints Effectively

This page is designed to answer the following questions:

How to respond to comments and complaints

Having a robust and swift comments and complaints procedure is an essential requirement for all care providers so you need to be aware of your duties and your organisation’s agreed ways of working.

You should ensure that all the individuals that you work with understand that they have the right to make a comment and complaint and you should always remain positive about any feedback given to you. All complaints and comments should be treated seriously.

If someone wants to make a complaint to you face to face, you should remain calm and listen intently to what they have to say. If possible, have the conversation somewhere private, for example in an office. Be non-judgmental and offer support but do not agree to anything – instead, explain the complaints process and reassure them that it will be taken seriously but an investigation must take place before any decisions can be made. Ensure they understand how their complaint will be dealt with and with timescales.

Your employer should have a comments and complaints policy and procedure, which you should follow. This usually involves filling out a form and passing it on to senior management or a dedicated complaints department. You should also inform your line manager whenever a complaint or comment has been made.

Getting advice & support

If you are unsure about how to deal with a complaint or require clarity about the complaints policy and procedure, you should speak to your manager. They may offer guidance or deal with the complaint themselves.

You may also get support from other co-workers, especially senior or more experienced members of staff who may have dealt with a similar case in the past.

Learning from comments & complaints

Comments and complaints should be welcomed as feedback is essential for improving your practice, the service you work in and the organisation you work for as a whole.

It can highlight areas where you may be lacking and provide you with the opportunity to make things better – some things you may not have even realised were an issue until somebody told you.

Comments and positive feedback can validate the work you do and motivate your team. Complaints and negative feedback mean that you can learn from your mistakes and provide a better service going forward.

Example questions and answers

Write a set of guidance notes for social care workers to help them deal with complaints.

In the notes, you must:

Ci     Explain legal and organisational requirements for dealing with complaints.

Cii    Describe how best to respond to complaints from service users, other practitioners and the family of service users.

It is a legal requirement that all complaints are listened to and dealt with in a compassionate and timely fashion, as documented in the Health and Social Care Act and CQC’s Essential Standards. All care providers must have a complaints system in place so that they can be handled and responded to. It must be investigated thoroughly and appropriate action should be taken if any problems are identified.

Clients Should Know They Can Complain

First and foremost, it is essential that if a client has a complaint about their service provision, they are aware that there is a system in place to take their complaints seriously. Even if you believe that the client does not have the mental capacity to make a complaint or that they may abuse the system by making unsubstantiated claims, they must still be informed of their right to make complaints. If requested, individuals are entitled to a copy of the complaints policy and procedure. This goes for their family members as well.

Complaints Procedure

We have a complaints policy and procedure, which is available in the employee handbook and online.

If somebody wishes to make a complaint verbally then you should take as much time as needed to listen to them attentively and be respectful about what they are saying, whilst recording what they are saying on a complaints form. Alternatively, if the individual wants to fill in the complaint form themselves, you can simply give them the form. Some people may not be able to write their complaint, so assistance should be given. You should write their complaint down in their words and not your own. If the individual seems uncomfortable with making the complaint to you, then you should advise them that another staff member can take their complaint instead, if they would prefer.

If the complaint is relatively minor or the complainant was did not have all the information, then it may be possible for the first responder to resolve the complaint through explanation, however, the nature of the complaint should still be documented.

After the complaint has been made and documented, senior staff should be made aware of the complaint so that an investigation can take place. The complainant should also be informed about what will happen next.

The investigation will be conducted by a senior member of staff who is independent of the scope of the complaint to avoid prejudice. The complainant will be responded to within two days to acknowledge the complaint and the investigation will begin with 5 days.

All complaints will be dealt with within 14 days and contact will be made with the complainant to discuss the outcome. All complaints will be resolved within 28 days, however If the complainant is not happy with the outcome of their complaint, they can escalate it to the Local Government Ombudsman.