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Complaints, Compliments and Comments Policy

1. Principles of the Solent Mind Complaints, Compliments & Comments Policy:

A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction, either written or spoken.

A complaint against Solent Mind is any situation in which we have some responsibility and the individual is not satisfied and wants to take it further.

As the leading mental health charity in Hampshire we have high standards of practice to maintain so we must know when and why people are dissatisfied in their interactions with us. We must, if possible, put it right for the complainant as soon as possible, with an apology if appropriate, and if necessary, make sure we do not make the same mistake again. That is usually all people want when they complain.

A compliment is an expression of praise concerning a service received. - a comment is a suggestion for how a service can be improved.

Complaints, compliments and comments can be raised by service users, fundraisers, supporters or a member of any of the services normally provided by the organisation. All complaints and suggestions will be received positively and be used as a means to improve the quality of services. People who use our services will not receive a lesser service from us if they raise concerns or make a complaint.

Through this procedure, we aim to:

The following principles are used in Solent Mind’s complaints, compliments & comments policy:

2. Timescales for making a complaint:

Complaints must be made no later than three months after the date on which the matter which is the subject of the complaint occurred. If the service about which the complaint is made has been closed in the intervening period, consideration should be given to an appropriate response/learning.

Note: If there are good reasons for not having made the complaint within the above timeframe and, if it is still possible to investigate the complaint effectively and fairly, Solent Mind may decide to still consider the complaint.

3. Who can make a complaint:

A complaint may be made by the person who is directly affected by the action or inaction of Solent Mind, such as a service user, fundraiser, supporter or member. A complaint may only be made by a person acting on behalf of someone else, where:

A complaint cannot be made anonymously as we would be unable to investigate it, however we do accept and appreciate anonymous feedback (positive and negative) via our website contact form, though we cannot respond to or investigate any information provided anonymously or via email:

Anyone using the procedure will get help, if they want it, to use the advocacy service of their choice. This includes the local CAB and Solent Mind Advocacy Services where appropriate, or an alternative independent advocacy service where Solent Mind Advocacy Services would not be appropriate.

4. The following principles are used in Solent Mind’s compliments and comments policy:

Solent Mind recognises that when people have taken the time to offer a comment or compliment their contribution should be acknowledged with a response. Anyone making a comment or compliment will receive a written communication summarising the nature of their comment or compliment and how we have responded. If written communication does not meet the individual’s access needs an alternative form of communication will be used.

The identity of persons making comments or compliments will not be made known beyond those directly involved in the complaints, comments and compliments procedure.

Information relating to comments or compliments will be made known to staff and volunteers where it is relevant to: - Making changes to the way services are delivered - Giving praise for good work where it has been requested for this to be done

Information about all comments and compliments received and the action taken in response will be recorded in CRM and subject to approval, may be noted in Solent Mind’s Annual Report and Website.

All data from complaints, comments and compliments will be discussed by the Leadership Team within Solent Mind. Action Plans will identify what changes or improvements have been made to ensure that any lessons are learnt. The Board will review annually the Central Log of complaints, comments and compliments to look for trends and issues and check the organisation’s performance against this policy. The Solent Mind Management Team will support the Board in this process.

5. How to get in touch with the Feedback Team:

Telephone Nr: 02382027810

Feedback Team, Executive Assistant Team,15-16 The Avenue, Southampton, Hampshire, SO17 1XF

For data related complaints (GDPR), you can also contact our Data Protection Officer

Data Protection Officer, 15-16 The Avenue, Southampton, Hampshire, SO17 1XF

How to complain:-

Details and further information on how to complain are contained within Solent Mind’s leaflet “How to Complain, register compliments and feedback” leaflet shown at the end of this document in Appendix 1.

6. Supporting our Workforce

We know that people find the process of complaining difficult and painful; and we recognise that being the subject of a complaint can be traumatic for staff and volunteers, so it is really important that everyone has confidence in the Complaints Procedure.

Solent Mind recognises its responsibility to continue to offer support to staff or volunteers who are the subject of a complaint, particularly a serious one, whether the complaint is justified or vexatious, and even in the event of any disciplinary action which may need to be taken during or following a complaint.

Direct support from within Solent Mind will probably have to come from someone not directly involved in the case, such as Human Resources. External agencies can also provide support to staff. The Health Assured employee assistance programme free 24 hour personal support service - tel: 0800 028 0199, whose counsellors have expertise in providing such support, is available to staff in these circumstances. Staff may also want to contact their union, seek legal advice or contact their local Citizens Advice Bureau.

Solent Mind also recognises the potential, in an unjustified complaint, for damage to a member of staff’s reputation, and indeed to the organisation’s reputation. Where possible and appropriate, we will take steps to repair such damage.

For more information, refer to the support guidance from HR regarding supporting our workforce during a complaint.

Staff should note that that the Grievance Procedure rather than the Complaints Procedure should be used where they have a grievance against Solent Mind.

7. Safeguarding Alerts

To talk to your Local Authority about any Safeguarding concerns please contact:

Local Authority

Phone Number


023 80834307


0300 555 1386

Isle of Wight

01983 814980


Out of hours Portsmouth

0845 6710271

0300 555 1373

There may be circumstances in which information disclosure is in the best interests of the individual, or the protection, safety or wellbeing of a child or vulnerable adult. In these circumstances, a complaint will be escalated as necessary with advice from Solent Mind’s Safeguarding Leads, Caldicott Guardians and Data Protection Officer as appropriate.

8. Complaints Procedure

This procedure should be followed for any types of complaints, whether from a service user, funder or supporter.  However, it should not be used by Solent Mind staff, who should instead follow our agreed grievance, disciplinary or other internal procedures.

Stage 1 – Local resolution (10 working days)

Once an expression of dissatisfaction is received verbally or in writing/email, the Head of Service, Service Manager or appropriately delegated person will usually speak to the individual raising the concern, either on the phone or in writing/email to try to resolve the complaint informally within 10 working days by:

Note: If the details of a complaint are particularly sensitive or reference an accusation against a member of staff, the individual recording the complaint may report the complaint summary to the feedback team directly via email and leave a note on CRM to confirm the record is with the feedback team.

Note: Any complaints, decisions, agreements or discussions made via telephone should be followed up by an email or letter or written record to ensure everyone has a shared understanding of the situation and agreed solution

Stage 2 – Formal registration and investigation of a complaint (15 working days)

If an individual is not satisfied with the response they have received through the informal local process, they can ask to formally register the complaint up to a month after the informal complaint investigation.

We will:

Note: If a complaint is about a lack of access to a service because of limited funding or commissioning standards outside of our power, rather than directing people to our appeals process, responses could include ways the individual can lobby/contact the funders or commissioners or governing bodies to express their dissatisfaction

Stage 3 – Appeal (20 working days)

If an individual is not satisfied with the response received, they can request an appeal within 10 working days provided it is not a complaint about a lack of service provision due to funding/commissioner set criteria. Appeals will be heard on only 2 grounds:

This is to be determined by a Senior Manager independent of the initial complaint or investigation.

To appeal a decision they should contact the feedback team and detail why they are unhappy with the decision set out in the formal response. They can appeal the response up to a 10 working days after the date of the formal letter of response to the complainant.

An appeals panel (in person or via phone/digitally) will be convened of CEO and up to 2 trustees who will review the details of the investigation and available evidence and make a joint decision usually within 20 working days. This appeal process will normally include:

This can also include a meeting or conference call between the appeals panel, complainant and staff member if appropriate. 

The panel will relay any learning, decisions or feedback following the complaint process to the staff/volunteers involved and Director of Services. 

This stage should also be logged in a central or appropriate location, such as on CRM within the service case as a ‘Note’ titled “Complaint record – Stage of complaint – Date” (feedback administrator to assist).

This is the final stage for us. After this, an individual may still be able to take the complaint up with the Service funder e.g. Adult Services, or the Care Quality Commission.

9. Internal Complaints Procedure Flowchart

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