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Dealing with Complaints
In my experience, the best way to resolve a complaint is quickly.
When one of my clients contacts me wanting to make a formal complaint, I respond directly to them, asking for a brief overview before arranging to meet with the complainant face to face.
Meeting with clients and their family members is so important as it is a clear indication that whatever the problem is, you are committed to resolving the concern quickly. I always follow this meeting up with a formal acknowledgement letter that can be found in the QCS system, advising when they can expect my investigation report. Whilst I carry out my investigation, I contact the complainant regularly to update them as much as I can.
Your complaint response should provide reassurances that action will be taken and measures are in place to prevent the issues arising again in future.
Accepting responsibility when things go wrong is critical and I always find being honest about where you have gone wrong is a key factor in complaint resolution. Being clear about how you aim to make things better and the actions you intend to take goes a long way to help rebuild confidence in you as a service provider.
The complaint I hear most frequently is regarding late call times. As a Manager, you have to manage people’s expectations of your service from the very beginning, and at the first meeting I would always advise clients that call times are not guaranteed, but rather an estimate, as in social care so many things can go wrong. There are a whole range of issues that can impact on the timing of the service e.g. unforeseen, high level staff sickness, staff delayed on an earlier call, traffic congestion, poor or adverse weather conditions.
When calls are running late, most companies aim is to ensure that someone from the office contacts either the service user or advocate directly, letting them know what is happening, and this can also help alleviate anxiety for clients and families alike. In reality this may not always happen, especially if you are running a large service.
I never advise my complainants that “this will never happen again”. Again it is about managing people’s expectations, and you should never make promises that you are unable to keep.
I am of the belief that whilst you cannot always prevent issues arising, it is absolutely vital that you are proactive and responsive in dealing with any issues that are raised about your Service - quickly!
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