Background

Hope Rescue is committed to providing a service in a professional, fair and courteous manner. We recognise, however, that there may be times when our service does not meet your expectations and have established this complaints policy and procedure for dealing with such concerns when they happen. Hope Rescue encourages people to let us know when our service does not meet their expectations and will continually strive to put things right and improve our service.

All Hope Rescue managers and staff have a responsibility for dealing with potential complaints, issues, queries, concerns or formal complaints when they are raised, reporting them in line with this policy and procedure in a timely manner and undertaking or assisting in the investigation of and action following investigation if and as requested.

Hope Rescue supports and upholds the Principles of Good Complaint Handling which are:

  • Getting it right;
  • Being customer focused;
  • Being open and accountable;
  • Acting fairly and proportionately;
  • Putting things right; and
  • Seeking continuous improvement.

This document sets out Hope Rescue’s policy and procedure for complaints.

Scope

This policy and procedure applies to complaints made about the standard or quality of services provided by Hope Rescue, divergence from procedures and the behaviour of our directly employed staff and volunteers.

This policy and procedure excludes:

  • matters which have already been fully investigated in accordance with this policy;
  • matters where legal or police proceedings are about to commence or are already underway;
  • any complaint arising out of the alleged failure of another responsible body or third party;
  • anonymous complaints.

For the avoidance of doubt, a complaint is defined as being a statement in writing made by a complainant that:

  • the standard and/or quality of service provided by Hope Rescue;
  • a divergence from Hope Rescue procedures;
  • the behaviour of Hope Rescue directly employed staff and volunteers

is unsatisfactory or unacceptable and requires an investigation with a written response. It is not a potential complaint, issue, query or concern that can be addressed by other less formal means.

Purpose

The purpose of this policy and procedure is to ensure that the complaints process:

  • is easy to follow;
  • provides a speedy acknowledgement of concerns raised;
  • ensures complaints are investigated thoroughly and fairly;
  • keeps complainants informed if there are delays;
  • is fair to complainants and staff;
  • provides a full written response or other means of resolution where appropriate;
  • ensures that where appropriate lessons are learned and changes made to prevent recurrence and services improved;
  • sets out how complaints should be received, acknowledged and investigated, how action should be taken (both immediate corrective action and longer term preventative action) and how responses to complainants should be made;
  • set out how complaints should be recorded; and
  • provide guidance for managers and staff on how to manage complaints and to use the lessons learned to proactively improve services.

This policy and procedure is aimed at anyone who is directly affected by the:

  • the standard and/or quality of service provided by Hope Rescue;
  • a divergence from Hope Rescue procedures: and
  • the behaviour of Hope Rescue directly employed staff and volunteers

and gives details on how Hope Rescue will deal with a complaint.

Complaints can be raised directly, or by an authorised representative of the complainant.

Roles and Responsibilities

Hope Rescue’s Transformation Manager has overall responsibility for ensuring that complaints are managed in line with this policy and procedure.

They are responsible for the acknowledgment of the receipt of a complaint, assigning an Investigating Officer (where appropriate) to manage the complaint, reporting complaints to the Hope Rescue Board (including a summary of their investigation, action and outcome) and the management of the Hope Rescue Complaints Register, including the identification of any trends and monitoring.

The Investigating Officer is delegated the task of investigating the complaint in accordance with the procedures set out below.

Any member of staff receiving a complaint is responsible for reporting it in accordance with the procedure.

Hope Rescue encourages all staff who receive potential complaints, issues, queries or concerns to attempt to resolve these matters locally and in a timely manner to prevent formal complaints (see “Local Resolution” below).

Local Resolution

Hope Rescue encourages all those who receive potential complaints, issues, queries or concerns to attempt to resolve these matters locally and in a timely manner to prevent formal complaints being made. This procedure therefore empowers all members of staff who receive potential complaints, issues, queries or concerns to resolve them to the complete satisfaction of the person raising the potential complaint, issue, query or concern. This will provide a far more satisfactory resolution for both parties.

Where the potential complaint, issue, query or concern is straightforward and local resolution can be achieved, the person raising the potential complaint, issue, query or concern will be advised by the receiving staff member of the plan of action, an outline of the concerns to be addressed, the proposed timescale and action(s) to be taken. The action(s) should then be undertaken in line with this plan and the person provided with an email or letter advising that this has been completed.

Receipt and acknowledgement of complaints

A complaint must be made within 12 months of an incident occurring, or on the date on which the complainant becomes aware of the matter if this is more than 12 months after the incident. The time limit may be waived if the manager considers there are good reasons for the delay and it is still possible to investigate the matter fully and fairly.

Complaints must be made in writing and may be received directly by the Transformation Manager or by any member of staff.  Where a complaint is received by a member of staff it should be referred to the Transformation Manager as soon as it has been received.

The Transformation Manager will acknowledge complaints within 3 working days.

Recording and delegation for investigation

The Transformation Manager will ensure that the complaint is logged on the Complaint Register.

Complaints are numbered sequentially, and a new register is commenced for each financial year.

The Transformation Manager should assess whether the complaint falls within the remit of this procedure. If the complaint falls outside the remit of this procedure the complainant should be contacted and the decision explained.

Where there is a significant risk to the reputation of Hope Rescue, the Board of Trustees should be informed.

The Transformation Manager will review the complaint and may delegate it to an appropriate manager, henceforth known as the Investigating Officer, for investigation.

Alternatively, the Transformation Manager may choose to delegate the complaint to a Trustee who may in turn delegate it to an appropriate Investigating Officer for investigation.

For clarity, any manager can be designated by the Complaints Lead or Director as an Investigating Officer which is a temporary and time limited role for the purpose of drawing the complaint to a satisfactory conclusion.

Initial Investigation

The Investigating Officer should establish a preferred method of communication with the complainant. An initial phone call is recommended to establish the reasons for the complaint, what the complainant would like to happen as a result of the complaint and whether this is feasible or realistic.

The seriousness of the complaint should be assessed to determine the extent of the investigation required and whether others need to be informed.

The complainant should then be advised of the expected timescale for the investigation.  

At this stage, the Investigating Officer should again assess whether the complaint falls within the remit of this procedure. If the complaint falls outside the remit of this procedure the Transformation Manager should be informed who will ensure the complainant is contacted and the decision explained.

Investigation

It is recognised that when things go wrong and a formal complaint is instigated, it is important to establish the facts of what has happened in a systematic, timely way.

Investigations need to collect and examine evidence in a variety of ways, which may include;

  • carrying out interviews or seeking information from staff, and where appropriate, volunteers;
  • reviewing written and electronic records and copies of documents;
  • carrying out site visits; and
  • taking expert advice.

Where the investigation cannot be completed within 25 working days the complainant should be kept informed about the reasons for the delay and the expected timescale for completion.

Once all the evidence has been collected and assessed the Investigating Officer will decide whether or not there has been a deviation from established policies and / or procedures, the expected and intended level of service and / or the expected level of behaviour and therefore conclude whether the complaint is upheld, partially upheld or not upheld. The complainant is then informed of the decision.

The Investigating Officer in conjunction with other managers and staff as required will take any immediate action required to resolve the complaint. Consideration will also be given to any further action or preventative action required to prevent recurrence. This may include, but is not restricted to, staff training, changes to practice, policies and procedures and a review of current and established ways of working with a view to improving services provided.

Responding to the complainant

Every complainant has a right to a response to a complaint which explains how their concerns have been resolved, what action has been taken to deal with the complaint and if appropriate, to prevent reoccurrence. Should they remain dissatisfied with the outcome of the complaint, they should know how to take the matter further.

Each response to a complainant should include the following;

  • a summary of each element of the complaint;
  • details of the complaints policy followed;
  • a summary of the investigation;
  • details of key issues or facts identified by an investigation;
  • conclusions of the investigation( whether the complaint is upheld, partially upheld or not
  • upheld);
  • what needs to be done to put things right (if appropriate);
  • things done to prevent a reoccurrence (if appropriate);
  • an apology, if needed;
  • an explanation of what happens next (e.g. what will be done, who will do it and when); and
  • information on what to do if the complainant is still dissatisfied.

The complaint response may be in the form a letter or an email and should be copied to the Transformation Manager.

The response email or letter will normally be signed and sent by the Investigating Officer.

The complaint response will be provided within 25 working days unless the complainant has been informed of any delays

Concluding Action

Once concluded, full details of the investigation, any action taken and the outcome, including any planned preventative action, should be provided to the Transformation Manager together with any related correspondence. These details may include investigation notes and/or the complaint response letter. Where the complaint response letter is sufficiently detailed separate investigation notes may not be required.

Appealing the outcome or handling of a complaint

If the complainant is dissatisfied with the outcome or how a complaint has been handled, they have the right to appeal, in writing, to the Chair of the Board of Trustees within 28 days of receipt of the response providing reasons for the dissatisfaction. The Chair of Trustees will establish an appropriate review of the appeal depending on the nature of the complaint. This will include details on how the appeal is to be reviewed, documented and communicated. The Chair of Trustees will usually prepare a response within 25 working days.

Confidentiality

All material associated with a complaint will be regarded as confidential. As such it will be retained securely with access being controlled and limited to nominated persons. The complainant should be made aware in the acknowledgement letter that potentially confidential information may be collected in the course of the investigation and that it will be retained confidentially.

Recording, Reporting and Monitoring

All complaints about Hope Rescue will be recorded on the complaints register together with the timelines and action taken so that trends can be identified (see appendix A). The complaints register will be maintained by the Transformation Manager.

An annual complaints report together with the complaints register will be reviewed at the Board of Trustees.