Writing to Bristol Autism Support

Our complaints and compliments procedure

Complaints and Compliments Procedure from Service users and Stakeholders

1) Bristol Autism Support (BAS) statement

1.1 BAS strives for high standards in everything that we do and welcomes feedback from our members, community and any stakeholders on all aspects of our work. Such feedback is invaluable in helping us evaluate and improve our work to ensure we are running the company in the right direction to meet the needs of our community.

1.2 The objectives of this Policy are to:

  • Ensure everyone knows how to provide feedback and how a complaint will be handled
  • Ensure that complaints are dealt with consistently, fairly and sensitively within clear and acceptable timeframes
  • Ensure that compliments and complaints are monitored and used to improve our services.

1.3 We will ensure that we:

  • Listen carefully to complaints and treat complaints as confidential, where possible
  • Record, process, store and manage all complaints accurately and in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998
  • Investigate the complaint fully, objectively and within the stated timeframe
  • Notify the complainant of the results of the investigation and any right of appeal
  • Inform the complainant of any action that will be implemented as a result of the complaint, where appropriate
  • Report, on a quarterly basis, the number of compliments and complaints received; the outcomes of investigations and any actions taken.
  • To feedback to our team the compliments received as compliments should be recognised and celebrated.

2) Definition of a Complaint

2.1 A complaint is any expression of dissatisfaction by an individual, whether justified or not.

An individual may make a complaint if they feel we have:

  • Failed to provide a service or an acceptable standard of service
  • Delayed in providing a service
  • Made a mistake in the way we have provided a service
  • Failed to act in a proper way
  • Provided an unfair service.

2.1.1 This policy and procedure relates only to complaints received about BAS and its services. Individuals who make complaints about other organisations that we may work with will be notified in writing within 5 working days of receipt of the complaint that they need to complain to the organisation they have the complaint with, and will be provided with contact details, where possible.

3) BAS Compliments, Feedback and Complaints Procedure

3.1 Compliments

Any verbal or written compliments will be recorded by the member of staff receiving the compliment and be passed to the appropriate manager for recording on the Compliments Register.  Any member of staff identified as being the subject or contributing to any matter giving rise to the compliment will be notified.  Feedback on compliments will be shared with our team at appropriate timings and at Directors Meetings. We value all positive feedback we receive as a company and feel it’s important that these key messages are heard.

3.2 Constructive Feedback

Being a small growing company we welcome any feedback and constructive feedback is something we value as it helps us revisit areas of the services that perhaps is not working at its best.
We recognise the need to accept constructive feedback as a way of assessing our day to day running of BAS. Many members may not want to actually complain but would value a way to offer that feedback.
We will record our Constructive feedback in the same format as our compliments Register.  Feedback will be shared with our team at appropriate timings and at Directors Meetings and actions noted.

3.3 Complaints

We have three stages to the complaints procedure:

  • Stage One – Complaint (verbal or written)
  • Stage Two – Appeal (a separate Investigation of the original investigation will be carried out)
  • Stage Three – Independent Review Panel

Stage one

3.4 We aim to settle issues quickly and satisfactorily by the member of staff or the relevant manager who provides the service. Informal complaints may be resolved quickly by way of an apology, by providing the service required or by providing an acceptable explanation to the individual or simply talking to the person involved may resolve the problem straight away. If we do not know there is a problem, we are unable to learn from the process.

3.5 Individuals wishing to make a formal complaint should contact the person who provided the service, or their manager.

Alternatively ,they can contact BAS by:

3.6 All complaints will be treated confidentially.

Making a Verbal Complaint – you must make your complaint within 28 days of the matter arising that causes your complaint.

  • If you are unhappy with an individual member of staff / volunteers or service we provide and you wish to make a verbal complaint you can contact our office who will log your complaint.
  • We will aim to acknowledge your complaint within 5 working days where possible as our office is not open every day.
  • All our complaints will be investigated and you will receive a response within 20 days.
  • In the event of us needing to undertake further enquiries into the matter, we will keep you updated and inform you of the reasons why more time is needed.

Making a Written Complaint – you must make your complaint within 28 days of the matter arising that causes your complaint.

  • If you are not satisfied with our response at the verbal stage or wish to raise a complaint in writing, please put your complaint in writing to the Chief Executive. (If your complaint is about the Chief Executive, please write to the Chair of BAS) and mark it confidential.
  • All written complaints will be logged. You will receive a written acknowledgement within 5 working days.
  • Your complaint will be investigated and you will receive a reply within 20 working days and, where appropriate, you will be informed about how the problem will be addressed. If this is not possible, an interim response will be made informing you of the action taken to date or being considered.

3.7 In exceptional circumstances where this deadline is not able to be met, the complainant will be advised of the reasons for this and notified of a revised date for response.

3.8 All complaints will be logged and investigated and any pending complaints flagged so they are followed up by the relevant manager.

3.9 Individuals will be advised that if they are not satisfied with the response to their complaint, they may appeal to the relevant Director within 14 working days and progress to Stage Two of our complaints procedure.

Stage Two

3.10 If you are not happy with the findings of Stage One, BAS will ask for another investigation to be carried. BAS board of Directors or Chief Executive Officer will appoint a person within BAS to investigate the matter independently if appropriate or investigate personally.  This person may need to contact the complainant to clarify the issues, conduct the investigation and explore resolution. The complainant will receive written confirmation of the outcome of any investigation within 20 working days of receipt of the appeal together with any recommendations/remedies made, such as, staff development and training, reviewing of policies or appropriate improvement to our services.  The outcome will not refer to any individual employees or groups of employees or volunteers.  Please note that if the 20 working days falls over the ‘holiday periods’ it may be longer.

3.11 Occasionally, investigations may take longer, particularly if the complaint is complex. Should this be the case a holding letter will be sent after 20 working days and a final date given for a conclusion to be reached.  Please note that if the 20 working days falls over the ‘holiday period’ it may be longer.

3.12 If an individual remains dissatisfied with the outcome from Stage Two they can request an Independent Review Panel within 14 working days of the date of the outcome letter and progress to Stage Three.  Please note if the 14 working days falls over the ‘holiday periods’ it may be longer.

Stage Three

3.13 BAS will hold an Independent Review panel consisting of 2 directors and a panel member who is independent from the company. They will review the Stage Two investigation and recommend one of the following actions, within 20 working days (please note if the 20 working days falls over the ‘holiday period’ it may be longer).

  • Uphold the action taken at Stage Two.
  • Implement changes to the Stage Two recommendations/actions.

The decision made by this panel is final.

4) Anonymous Compliments and Complaints

4.1. Compliments and complaints received anonymously will be recorded and considered, but action may be limited if further information is required to ensure a full and fair investigation.

5) Data Protection

5.1 To process a complaint, we will hold personal data about the complainant, which the individual provides and which other people give in response to investigating the complaint. We will hold this data securely in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998 and only use it to help address the complaint. The identity of the person making the complaint will only be made known to those who need to consider the complaint and will not be revealed to other people or made public. However, it may not be possible to preserve confidentiality in some circumstances, for example, where relevant legislation applies or allegations are made which involve the conduct of third parties.

5.2 Under the Data Protection Act 1998, individuals have a right to obtain a copy of their personal data. However, there are exceptions to this right.  We will normally destroy compliments and complaints files in a secure manner six years after the compliment has been made or the complaint closed.

6) Monitoring

6.1 Compliments and complaints are an important tool which, alongside data provided by exit surveys, user feedback and focus groups, will allow us to learn more about the services we provide. They offer a useful source of information about how individuals see our charity and how we are serving them. To ensure we can learn from compliments and complaints, the following data will be collected:

Compliments and Constructive Feedback:

  • Name
  • Nature of the compliment
  • Date of compliment
  • Action(s) taken/recommendations made in response to the compliment, if appropriate.

Complaints:

  • Name and address
  • Name of person dealing with the complaint
  • Date of complaint and response date
  • Nature of complaint
  • Action(s) taken/recommendations made in response to the complaint
  • Lessons learnt.

6.2 Compliments/Constructive Feedback and Complaints information will be considered on a quarterly basis by BAS Management team and the Board of Directors. However, confidential data will not be shared with the board or will open cases be shared until the outcome has been reached.  Wherever possible the appropriate data will be used to improve and develop the service.