If you are unhappy about a service we provide or the care we have arranged for you, please tell us.
Complaints provide health and adult services with valuable feedback about what is not working so well and gives us the chance to put things right and improve how we can deliver the service in future.
How to complain
We aim to resolve complaints as quickly and informally as possible. When you contact us we will need to know what has happened and what you think should be done to put things right. If you are able to talk to the managers who deliver your service, this is often the quickest and best way to get a problem resolved. If you do not feel able to do this, are not sure who to speak to or you are unhappy with the response from the local manager you can contact the complaints manager.
Over 95 per cent of the complaints we receive are resolved informally by discussing the problem with a member of staff. The managers and staff work hard to ensure complaints are responded to quickly and resolved at this stage wherever possible.
Making a complaint will not affect your right to receive our services. If you would like a relative, friend or advocate to make a complaint on your behalf we will need your agreement and consent to share information with them. Or, you can ask someone to support you to make the complaint yourself.
Once your complaint has been submitted
Once you have made your complaint, we will contact you within three working days to talk about the best way to deal with your complaint and how quickly we will be able to reply to you.
If you are not satisfied with the response you have received from us you can contact us again to see if there is any other way of resolving your complaint. Alternatively, if you are not satisfied with the final decision or the way we have dealt with your complaint, you can contact the local government ombudsman. You can also contact the ombudsman for advice at any time. They will usually ask us to investigate your complaint first if we have not had the opportunity to try to resolve your concerns.
Complaints about independent care providers
If your complaint is about a private care home or agency, you should contact them in the first instance as they will have their own complaints procedure to follow. If you are unhappy about their response and your care has been arranged and funded by health and adult services, we may be able to look into your complaint further.
The care quality commission inspects and reports on social care services. For further information and advice, visit the care quality commission website.
If you are unhappy with the independent provider's response to your complaint, you can contact the local government ombudsman for advice (see further details below).
Anyone who is receiving support through health and adult services can make a complaint.
Making a complaint on behalf of someone else
Someone acting on behalf of the person receiving support can also make a consent as long as they have their consent.
You are also able to make a complaint if you are acting on behalf of a person receiving support who is unable to make the complaint themselves.
You can ask a relative, friend or an advocate to complain on your behalf or support you to make the complaint yourself. We will need to confirm your agreement to the complaint and your consent to share your information with your representative.
There is a 12 month time limit for making a complaint.
You should make us aware of your complaint within 12 months of the incident happening or from when you realised you had cause for complaint within 12 months of the issue occurring or when you realised you had cause to complain. The time limit may be extended at the discretion of the complaints manager if there is a reason for the delay.
If you are complaining about a range of services jointly provided by or commissioned by both the Council and an NHS Trust (a hospital for example), you can contact either organisation involved and ask them to look into your complaints.
We will need your permission to pass your details on to the other organisation and we will let you know who will be co-ordinating the response to your complaint.
You can make an anonymous complaint but we would rather talk to you directly about your concerns. If you do not provide contact details we won't be able to let you know what has happened with your complaint. We will still ask a relevant manager to look into the issues raised.
All staff in customer-facing roles must speak fluent English. This includes the ability to speak with confidence and accuracy, using appropriate sentence structures and vocabulary, and understanding customer needs and responding clearly.
If all or part of your complaint relates to this, that aspect will be considered under the Council's English fluency duty complaints procedure. This is a two-part procedure which includes assessment of the member of staff concerned.
As part of this process details of your complaint will be passed to the member of staff concerned so that they have an opportunity to respond to the issues raised.
If only part of your complaint relates to English fluency this will be investigated under this procedure while the rest of your complaint will be investigated under the normal appropriate procedure. You will be informed of how this will work.
Complaints will not be considered under this procedure if the complaint is about:
- Spoken English fluency for a member of staff who is not required to speak to members of the public in English as a regular and intrinsic part of their role;
- A member of staff's accent, dialect, manner or tone of communication, origin or nationality;
- Workers employed directly by a private or voluntary provider of council services; or
- Any complaints regarded as vexatious, oppressive, threatening or abusive.
If your complaint does not fall within the scope of this procedure it may still be considered under one of the Council's other complaints procedures.
You can also make a complaint in person, by phone or in writing by post. Download the adult social care complaints information here (pdf / 349 KB).
The local government ombudsman looks at complaints about councils and some other authorities and organisations, including education admissions appeal panels and adult social care providers (such as care homes and home care providers). It is a free service.
They aim to provide independent investigation to individuals for injustice caused by unfair treatment or service failure by local authorities. If fault is found they will make recommendations about how we should put things right.
They will expect you to have taken your complaint through our complaints procedures first.
For more information please visit the local government ombudsman website.
We understand that making a complaint can be a very emotional process and we will do all that we can to help you through the procedure. However, we will not tolerate unreasonable behaviour from those making a complaint. Such behaviour may include (written, verbal or in person):
- Offensive sexual or racial remarks or offensive remarks about a person's disability;
- Inappropriate personal remarks;
- Unwanted physical contact or assault;
- Excessive swearing, foul or abusive language; or
- Unreasonable persistence, for example contacting the Council many times about the same issue - see our policy on unreasonably persistent complainants (pdf / 40 KB).
We will tell you if we think your behaviour is unacceptable. If the behaviour continues we may limit the way you can contact us, for example only in writing.
In the course of dealing with your complaint you may be asked questions about equalities information. This will include things like your gender, age, ethnic background and whether you have a disability.
This information will not be passed to the person dealing with your complaint and will not affect how your case is handled (although the information is attached to your case, the case handler cannot see it). We will use this information anonymously and it will help us to ensure that all sections of the community can access the complaints procedures and are not disadvantaged in any way. It will also be used across the Council to help us build a picture of who our customers are and how we can best provide our services to cater for their needs.
We use the information gained from complaints to inform service improvements. Directorates receive regular reports detailing the complaints they have received, outcomes, timescales and so on. A quarterly corporate report is brought to the Council's management board, executive and standards committee.
These are our top tips on making an effective complaint.
The sooner you raise a concern with us the better. We may be able to solve the problem quickly with little impact on you. If a full investigation is required access to information and the people involved will be much easier, meaning that the investigation will be much more effective.
Provide all the relevant information
To carry out a thorough and effective investigation, we need to know as much as possible about the situation, though only information that is relevant to the case. Please let us know:
- Which service is involved;
- The names of the people involved;
- What has happened;
- When it happened;
- Where it happened;
- How it has affected you;
- What you would like us to do to put it right;
- Your contact details; and
- If you have contacted us about this before - who you contacted, when, if you got a response etc.
Be clear and brief
Cover all the relevant points, but please be as brief as you can - lengthy documents can slow down the process. Use numbered lists and headings to highlight the important issues and only tell us what is actually relevant to your case. If we think we need more information to consider your complaint fully we will contact you to let you know.
Provide evidence if relevant
If you have documents that may help us look into the matter, please send them to us. You can send a scanned copy by email if you prefer and if you want us to return hard copy documents we will do so - please let us know when you send them in. If you do send us items through the post please make sure you keep a copy.
If it is a complex issue put it in writing
It is helpful if you could put your complaint in writing to us, particularly if it is a complex matter. If you don't feel comfortable doing this, you could ask a relative, friend, advocate or an organisation like Citizen's Advice to help you.
You may wish to include audio or video recordings as part of the evidence to support your complaint. If you do, you need to provide a copy of the full recording, not just parts of it and it must not be altered in any way. This will ensure that the full context of the conversation can be considered.
If you provide only part of a recording we might not accept it as part of evidence towards a complaints investigation.
All recordings should be of good quality. If they are not clear enough to understand we will not consider them as evidence.
Recordings will be shared with any council officers (or anyone providing a service on behalf of the council) that took part in the conversation for them to verify that it is a true and full recording.
We will not pass on any recordings which you provide us with to third parties unless there is an overriding legal obligation for us to do so, for example for crime prevention or detection.