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Dealing with Complaints Guidance Notes

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.

Explain where a social care worker can find advice, support and information relating to conflicts and dilemmas in adult social care.

Social care workers can find advice, support and information about conflicts and dilemmas from several sources.

Speaking to the individual themselves when they are in a calm state is perhaps one of the best ways of finding out ways to resolve or come to a compromise about any conflicts or dilemmas that affect their support. Speaking to their family or close friends can also be beneficial.

Conversing with other staff and my manager is also a good way to get guidance and new ideas as well as talking to other professionals that are involved in an individual’s care, such as their GP, social worker, psychologist etc.

I can also obtain guidance from my company’s policies and procedure as well as industry best practices such as CQC’s Key Lines of Enquiry. The Internet is also a useful resource.

Choose one of the situations and describe how best to manage the risks involved, explaining the reasons why this would be best practice.

In the example above, where an individual is refusing to take their medication, it would be best practice to try to encourage the individual to take it because this would be in their best interests. Everyone is different and by knowing the individual or referring to their care plan and risk assessments, we can establish the best techniques to help them to agree to take their medication.

For some individuals, this may mean simply leaving them for a while and then coming back later to offer them their medication again. Or even waiting for the individual to come to you to request it. For others, it may be necessary to explain the reasons why they should take their medication and the potential ramifications of them not taking it. You could even remind them of the negative consequences that occurred last time that they refused their medication.

Asking the individual why they are refusing their medication may shed some light on the reason for their refusal. It could be that they think the medication is causing them harm and in this case I would be able to reassure that it will help them, rather than harm them.

Sometimes, it may be necessary to ask for assistance from another member of staff as some individuals may be more willing to comply with a different person’s request.

If medication is still refused then I would contact a senior member of staff for advice. I may also obtain advice from the individual’s GP or NHS Direct (out of hours).

Recording the refusal of medication is imperative. I would note on the MAR sheet that medication had been refused and write up a statement about what had happened. It may be necessary for me to write up a risk assessment for the individual refusing their medication with collaboration from the individual, their family, other staff and other professionals, which can be used in the future.

Describe two situations which demonstrate a conflict or dilemma between exercising a duty of care and the rights of an individual.

Within my line of work, there are many times that there are conflicts or dilemmas between exercising my duty of care and the rights of an individual.

A typical example may be when an obese client wants to eat junk food or takeaways every day despite it being detrimental to their health. My duty of care obligations require me to encourage the client to have a healthy diet so that they don’t get poorly from overeating or not getting enough nutrition, however I also need to remember that all individuals have the right to make their own choices about what they eat.

Another example would be if an individual with paranoid schizophrenia refuses to take their medication. Everyone has the right to refuse medication and I should respect that, however my obligation to duty of care would require to do everything I can to try to encourage the individual to take it because I know that it would be detrimental to their mental health if they didn’t.

Duty of Care: Supervision Notes

As an experienced social care worker you have been asked to mentor a new social worker. You plan to use a supervision session to explain about the duty of care and how this helps to protect individuals from harm and abuse.

Prepare a set of notes to help you in this supervision session.

In the notes, you must include an explanation of:

Ai What is meant by the term “duty of care
Aii How the duty of care affects the work of a social care worker
Aiii What having a duty of care means for a care giving organisation
Aiv How the duty of care contributes to safeguarding individuals


Notes for supervision with John to explain and discuss duty of care in the role of the social support worker.

What is Duty of Care?

Duty of care is the moral or legal obligation to ensure the safety and well-being of other individuals. We all have a duty of care towards the clients that we support, whether this be ensuring they take their medication or making sure that their home is free from dangerous hazards. It can also mean working with other professionals on the client’s behalf, such as getting advice from their GP if they refuse their medication or contacting the police or social services safeguarding team if you have suspicions that there has been abuse. It is also important to remember that our role involves promoting choice for individuals, sometimes in difficult circumstances and to take choices away from them would constitute as abuse in itself.

How Does Duty of Care Affect Our Work?

Social care workers are bound to work with the law as well as adhering to company policies, procedures and agreed ways of working (e.g. CQC’s Key Lines of Enquiry). It is also advisable to follow the Code of Conduct for Healthcare Support Workers and Adult Social Care Workers in England. Risk assessments may need to be written for certain activities and situations.

Practically, this involves things like reporting hazards, keeping records of incidents and contacting other professionals (e.g. GP, social services, psychologist etc.)  when needed. It also means ensuring individuals have all the facts necessary to make informed choices and to respect their choice when they make it (even if we don’t agree with it ourselves).

What Does Having Duty of Care Mean For Our Organisation?

Duty of care benefits the organisation as a whole because it means that all employees work within the same guidelines and ensures that everyone has the best interests of the clients in mind. It also means that the environment is safe for all and that the organisation is working within legislative boundaries.

How Does Duty of Care Contribute to Safeguarding Individuals?

Duty of care is very important in safeguarding individuals because everyone will be working to agreed standards that protect our clients from abuse. We have reporting procedures in place to ensure that any potential risks or suspicions of abuse can be documented and escalated swiftly and a whistleblowing procedure that allows employees to report any suspected wrongdoings by their employer without any backlash. All of these factors contribute to a safe working and living environment for all.