Solvo Vir aims to provide all learners and other customers of our services with the right to complain and to have access to an appeals procedure against any decision that the management may make with regard to a received complaint.
The aims of the policy are to ensure that the complaints process is flexible and responsive to the needs of individual complainants. In addition, it emphasises the need to communicate effectively with complainants and involve them in the decisions concerning the handling of their complaint. The policy seeks to ensure that:
- Users who complain are listened to and treated with courtesy and empathy
- Users who complain are not disadvantaged as a result of making a complaint
- Complaints are investigated promptly, thoroughly, honestly and openly
- Complainants are kept informed of the progress and outcome of the investigation
- Apologies are given as appropriate
- Action to rectify the cause of the complaint is identified, implemented and evaluated
- Learning from complaints informs service development and improvement
- Complaints handling complies with confidentiality and data protection policies and is transparent.
- Staff involved in complaints are given support
All staff must be familiar with complaints handling processes. This includes details of how users can make complaints, and to whom. Complaints may also include requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act (2000), Data Protection Act (1998) or other relevant legislation.
Maintaining user confidentiality is essential and security of data relating to individuals must be protected in accordance with the Data Protection Act (1998). No confidential information relating to complaints will be disclosed to any third party unless Solvo Vir has the patient’s consent or some other lawful authority to do so.
Anonymised information arising from complaints may be shared with other agencies, including Prime Contractors, ESFA and Ofsted, etc.
The Complaints Process
Informal Resolution of Concerns
All staff are responsible for working to resolve concerns raised by users.
Prompt action to resolve concerns can prevent them escalating into more serious complaints. Where a complainant is reporting a poor experience of Solvo Vir, it is appropriate for the person receiving the complaint to apologise on behalf of Solvo Vir. Apologies and explanations of adverse events do not alone constitute an admission of liability.
Concerns and issues are problems that are raised at the time and staff are able to resolve them by the end of the next working day or earlier
- Ensure that they take time to listen and ensure they fully understand the concerns, this may mean asking for clarification where elements are unclear.
- Reassure the user that complaints are welcome as a means of enabling the service to improve.
- Respond to the issues raised or refer the complainant to someone who can assist them further within 24 hours of the initial issue being raised.
- Contact their line manager if any issue is serious or cannot be resolved by the end of the next working day.
- The manner used to respond to concerns must never be perfunctory, curt or negative. Care must be taken over the messages sent out in the first interaction as this will set the tone and often influence the likelihood of dealing with the issue and looking to repair the relationship.
The member of staff to whom the complaint is made is responsible for ensuring it is registered with the Quality Manager within 24 hours of the initial issue being raised.
Line managers must ensure that staff have the necessary skills and knowledge to deal with complaints they receive and know how to access support from more senior staff.
When a concern/enquiry is made, staff must ensure that their line manager is informed.
It is the responsibility of line managers to ensure that staff record details of issues and concerns that are raised and resolved locally and provide these to be discussed in team meetings. The record must include details of how the concern/enquiry has been resolved. The record can be found in Appendix 1.
Formal Resolution of Complaints
A complaint can be made in writing, electronically, or verbally. Any member of staff receiving a complaint in person should document the details and pass them to the Quality Manager without delay for official logging on Complaints Form (Appendix 2).
Complaints must be registered from the date they are first received at Solvo Vir. It is essential that staff send all complaints to the Quality Manager immediately upon receipt.
The Quality Manager, or another designated nominee in their absence, must contact the complainant within 24 hours to acknowledge receipt of the complaint. All communication with the complainant must be documented on the Complaints Tracker.
The acknowledgement of a complaint must include confirmation of the issues raised, to ensure accuracy and confirmation of the complainant’s expectations. The complainant must be consulted on how they wish their complaint to be managed whenever possible. This may include offering:
- A telephone call from a senior member of staff
- A letter from a senior member of staff
- A written response from the Managing Director
In line with current standard response times, response to complaints should be within 20 working days as an absolute maximum but Solvo Vir should seek for responses to be as soon as possible without compromising the quality of the response.
Complaints Involving Other Organisations
When a complaint is made to Solvo Vir that includes issues about other providers, (e.g. ESFA, Prime Contractors) the complaint must be acknowledged and a way forward agreed with the user. The user’s permission must be sought before forwarding the complaint to the other organisation(s) for investigation.
The level of the investigation into a complaint will reflect the complexity of the complaint and may be undertaken by a single manager/named investigator or by a small investigatory team.
If a complainant alleges discrimination of any kind, a copy should be sent to the Managing Director or nominated representative for review and comment.
Responses will be required by a specified date
A single point of contact should be identified for all complainants
Complete and accurate records must be kept and be available. These must include:
- The original complaint and other relevant information
- The issues considered
- Decisions or actions taken
- Discussions/correspondence with the complainant
- Copies of staff responses and other information collected during the investigation
- Legal advice taken and details of the advisors
- National or local policy or guidance consulted
All complaint investigations should address the underlying causes of complaints and provide clear action plans to prevent them happening again.
It is the responsibility of all staff to:
- Work to resolve any concerns expressed by users
- Escalate to their manager any concerns which cannot be resolved locally or where the
- complainant indicates that they wish to make a complaint
All staff should be made aware of the Complaints Policy and mandatory training by their managers, as part of local induction.
Training will encompass the following principles:
- Access to the appropriate level of training is available to all staff
- Complaints handling training is mandatory for all
- Training will emphasise that making a complaint will not prejudice the user experience and that users will not be treated differently as a result of raising a concern
- Training will cover the recording of complaints and the storage of documentation on complaints.
Monitoring the effectiveness of the Complaints Policy
The Quality Team are responsible for monitoring the application of this policy within their area and, by exception, escalating any concerns about complaints management.
It is the responsibility of the Quality leads to monitor completion of actions arising from complaints, and to report to the Senior Management Team any actions/recommendations which cannot be implemented.
Trends and learning needs arising from complaints are included in the yearly report. This report will be reviewed by the Senior Management Team and shared with other Solvo Vir members as appropriate.
Monitoring the application of the policy will include:
- compliance with agreed time scales
- The quality of investigations and responses
- The implementation of recommendations arising from complaints
An annual audit of the complaint process will include:
- A review of the number and nature of complaints raised
- Complaints that have been reported to external partners or referred for independent review
- Whether complaints have been investigated at an appropriate level
- Whether appropriate actions have been agreed following investigations
- Whether actions have been implemented
- Whether complaints have been directed to the appropriate workstream in the first instance
- Whether appropriate steps have been taken to promote learning as a result of complaints