Learning Curves | Complaints & Compliments
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Complaints & Compliments

Compliment, Suggestion and Complaint Management Policy 2016

Policy statement

Compliments, complaints and other forms of feedback provide valuable information regarding client satisfaction and provide us with an opportunity to improve upon all aspects of our service. Obtaining feedback is taken seriously and is seen as an opportunity for improvement.

We seek to resolve complaints from clients and staff at the earliest opportunity in a way that respects and values the person’s feedback.   The management system approach aims to be responsive, effective and fair.

Learning Curves Psychological Consultancy

Our services form part of what is frequently referred to as an allied health service within the medical health sector.  We provide psychological services across the lifespan for all issues and work with individuals, couples and groups to achieve improved well-being, lifestyle and success.

Definitions

Complaint – Australian Standard AS/NZS ISO 10002:2014 Guidelines for Complaints Management in Organisations defines a complaint as an ‘expression of dissatisfaction made to or about an organisation, related to its products, services, staff or the handling of a complaint, where a response or resolution is explicitly or implicitly expected or legally required’.

Compliment – a compliment is an expression of praise, encouragement or gratitude about a service that is funded, regulated or provided. It may be about an individual staff member, a team or a service.

Guiding principles

The principle areas which will shape our management system involve: it being transparent and easy to access; responsive to contributors needs; fairness; quality feedback; and a focus on positive outcomes.

Our approach to compliments and complaints management will support:

  • people[1] understanding their rights and responsibilities
  • information on the compliment and complaint management process being easily accessible
  • increased satisfaction of clients and staff in the management of their compliments and complaints
  • the recording of data to identify emerging and existing trends or systemic issues
  • staff to demonstrate an awareness of feedback, compliment and complaint management processes
  • staff capacity to manage compliments, complaints and feedback
  • an work place culture that is focused on effective, person-centred complaints resolution and utilising feedback for continuous improvement.

Transparency and Ease of Access

The compliments and complaints management process will be transparent and easy to access:

  • All staff will be able to explain how to make a compliment or complaint, including an anonymous complaint
  • Our website contains information on how to lodge a compliment or complaint.
  • Staff will be sensitive to the specific needs of the individual or any barriers that they may experience in bringing forward a complaint and attempt to make reasonable accommodation/s.
  • Staff will ensure the complainant is aware of alternative complaint resolution pathways when the complaint is first lodged and when it is closed.
  • Staff will explain how a complaint will be managed and the expected time frame if longer than 21 working days.
  • Staff will support individuals to identify and seek their preferred outcome.

Responsiveness

The compliments and complaints management process will be responsive and provide mechanisms and strategies to:

  • promote service user rights, particularly those with special support needs, so they can actively participate in the compliments and complaints process
  • inform and train staff to use the compliments and complaint management system
  • support the individual to seek the most appropriate resolution
  • ensure there is clarity about the requested outcome
  • provide a respectful, valuing and informative acknowledgement
  • actively listening and acknowledging when the service was not the best it could have been
  • monitor timeframes for resolution
  • communicate with all relevant parties about the progress of the resolution of the complaint.

Process Fairness

The compliments and complaints management process will:

  • assess complaints for severity, safety, complexity, impact and the need for immediate action
  • collect adequate and appropriate information
  • protect the privacy and confidentiality of the information
  • determine who and at what level the complaint should be dealt with
  • enable complaints to be considered independently, fairly and objectively.

Quality Feedback

The compliments and complaints management process will:

  • explain what happened and why, what will be done to fix the issue, and who will do it, how we will communicate our progress and how we will check things are on track
  • explain the reasons for the decision
  • provide an apology where the organisation has failed to meet its service obligations[2]
  • where an apology is provided, ensure it is sincere, and accepts responsibility for what occurred and the impact
  • explain the circumstances without making excuses, and summarise the key actions that will be taken
  • provide regular updates to the complainant if the resolution is delayed
  • notify the complainant of alternative complaint resolution pathways and review mechanisms
  • follow up with complainants to determine the effectiveness of the outcome, where appropriate.

Focus on Positive Outcomes

The complaint management system will gather and record feedback and other information to:

  • meet any statutory, policy or procedural reporting requirements
  • improve the training and capabilities of staff to manage complaints
  • analyse the complaint data and identify complaint trends for performance improvement
  • monitor the time taken to resolve complaints
  • notify service providers as part of a continuous quality improvement approach.

Compliment and Complaint Management Process

The compliment and complaint management process can be simplified into five steps:

  1. Receive
  2. Record
  3. Acknowledge
  4. Resolve
  5. Communicate resolution.

1. Receive

  • Listen – Staff will openly listen to the concerns being raised by the complainant.
  • Ask – Staff will ask the complainant what outcome they are seeking.
  • Inform – Staff will give clear information on the complaint process; the time the process takes and will work with the complainant to set realistic expectations.
  • Accountable – Staff will be empathic towards the affected person and action all commitments made.
  • Assess – Staff will consult the Practice Manager to create a prioritisation framework to identify situations which may pose an immediate threat or danger, or require a specialised response.
  • Staff will refer to the Compliment and Complaint form template to assist in recording key information at the time of first contact.

2. Record

  • Record – all information that is relevant to the compliment or complaint, in its original and simplest form will be recorded.
  • Store – A compliment and complaint management system will be maintained by the Practice Manager.
  • Protect – Only staff directly involved in managing the compliment or complaint will have access to the information.
  • The Complaints and Compliments Record Forms are readily available, located in reception.

3. Acknowledge

  • Acknowledge – The complaint will be acknowledged with the person who raised the complaint within two working days.
  • Anonymity – a person may request to remain anonymous in their lodgement and therefore contact may not be possible or expected.
  • Desired outcomes – provide realistic expectations and refer the matter to other organisations where identified as being more suitable to handle.
  • Conflict of interest – The Practice Manager and Principal Psychologist will determine who will investigate the matter to ensure procedural fairness.
  • Timeframes and expectations – In general, complaints may take up to 21 working days to be investigated and communicated to the complainant.

4. Resolve

  • Involve the complainant – keep them informed of the progress of the complaint and discuss any disparities identified in the information held.
  • Additional information – request when required but apply a time frame that limits when it is to be provided.
  • Extensions in time – consider only where necessary and always communicate any additional time requirements to the complainant with an explanation of the need.
  • Record – continue to record all decisions or actions of the complaint investigation in the compliment and complaint management system.
  • Focus – when investigating, focus on the identified complaint matters only. A complaint is not an opportunity to review the whole case.

5. Communicate resolution

The Practice Manager or Principal Psychologist will:

  • Outcome – Where possible, the complainant will be contacted before being given written advice which will include details on how to make further contact following receipt of the written advice.
  • Recourse – Include what further action may be available to the complainant to escalate the matter for a further review by Learning Curves senior staff or make a complaint with an external agency such as the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) on 1300 419 495 or website http://www.ahpra.gov.au/Notifications/Make-a-complaint.aspx
  • Review – If requested Learning Curves Psychological Consultancy will provide a further review to check the soundness of the decision and allow for additional information not already provided to be included.
  • Opportunities – Ensure the appropriate area within the organisation is actioned to improve service delivery.
  • Feedback – Ensure the complainant’s response to the complaints process is recorded.

 

[1] The term ‘people’ is used to refer to staff and service users or clients who receive a service.

[2] Wrongs Act 1958 section 14J provides that in the case of civil proceedings where the death or injury of a person is an issue, or is relevant, an apology does not constitute either an admission or liability, or an admission of unprofessional conduct, carelessness, incompetence or unsatisfactory professional performance.