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Complaints Procedure

Principles of the Solent Mind complaints procedure

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.

Through this procedure, we aim to:

The following principles are used in Solent Mind’s complaints policy:
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.

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 be made by a person acting on behalf of someone else, only 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 yourviews@solentmind.org.uk contact form, though we cannot respond to or investigate any information provided anonymously.

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.

How to get in touch with the Complaints Team

complaints@solentmind.org.uk

02382 027828

Complaints Team, 15-16 The Avenue, Southampton, Hampshire, SO17 1XF

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

DPO@solentmind.org.uk

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

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 030 5182, 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.

Safeguarding Alerts

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

Local Authority

Phone Number

Southampton

023 8083 3003

Hampshire

0300 555 1386

Isle of Wight

01983 814980

Portsmouth

023 9268 0810

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. 


Complaints Procedure for Service Users

Including current or previous service users who would like to make a complaint about their experience of a Solent Mind service or project

This procedure does not cover complaints made by:

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 complaints team directly via email and leave a note on CRM to confirm the record is with the complaints 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: Any email sent to the complaints@solentmind.org.uk inbox will receive an automatic response confirming receipt.

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 through the formal registering of a complaint 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 complaints 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 2-3 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 direct them to available support. This stage should also be logged on CRM within the service case as a ‘Note’ titled “Complaint record – Stage of complaint – Date” (complaints 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.


Complaints Procedure for Stakeholders and Supporters

Anybody, including fundraisers, members of Solent Mind, supporters and individuals we are in contact with who would like to make a complaint about Solent Mind that isn’t about a mental health service we deliver

This procedure does not cover complaints made by:

As an organisation registered with the Fundraising Regulator we are committed to best practice and we take all complaints seriously.

In the event that an individual has enquired about the potential return of fundraised monies, Solent Mind is bound by the guidelines provided by the UK Fundraising Regulator. For details of this and prior to agreeing any return or course of action, please contact our fundraising or complaints team.


Stage 1 – Local resolution (10 working days)

Once an expression of dissatisfaction is received verbally or in writing/email, the Head of Business Development, Membership Team 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 issue informally within 10 working days by:

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 10 working days after the informal complaint investigation.

We will:

Note: Any email sent to the complaints@solentmind.org.uk inbox will receive an automatic response confirming receipt.


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