Representation and complaints procedure
Our representation and complaints procedure is integral to the work of The Welland Trust, and we therefore encourage staff and partner organisations to be receptive and sensitive at all times to representations and complaints made about our services.
No individual or organisation is perfect and we can always learn from what people have to say about us. To fail to respond promptly and sympathetically to a complaint in its early stages can sometimes lead to serious problems at a later date.
We therefore regard this procedure in a positive light, and see it as an important tool to help monitor and evaluate the standard of services we give.
It is important to note that The Welland Trust Representation and Complaints Procedure is not intended to replace the complaints procedures already established by any inspecting or governing body. Complainants will be consulted about which procedure will be used if more than one may be invoked.
It should also be noted that this procedure does not replace child protection/ safeguarding, grievance or disciplinary procedures, which can run concurrently with any action taken under the representations and complaints procedure.
Terminology: for the purpose of this procedure the following terms are used throughout
• Representations are defined as enquiries and statements about such matters as the availability, delivery and nature of services and will not necessarily be critical. Indeed, some representations may be complimentary and are recorded on The Welland Trust database. With consent in line with Data Protection principles, compliments may also be used for marketing purposes.
• A complaint is a written or oral expression of dissatisfaction or disquiet in relation to concern about the quality or appropriateness of services, or about delivery or non-delivery of services.
We have based our procedure on the principles listed below:
• We seek to create an ethos in which clients, supplier or other representative can confidently make a representation or complaint knowing that it will be dealt with promptly and with fairness.
• The procedure will be made available to clients, suppliers or other representatives whenever requested.
• Any complaint should be resolved as near as possible to the point at which it arises.
• The level at which the complaint or representation is dealt with will reflect the seriousness of that complaint or representation.
• All representations and complaints will be recorded in writing.
• Where necessary and appropriate, representations and complaints will be shared with the relevant partner service provider organisations or individuals including self-employed representatives who act for and on behalf of The Welland Trust with written consent and agreement.
Complaints Procedure - overview
The Welland Trust has a three stage procedure for dealing with complaints:
Stage One - Informal Problem Solving
Stage Two - Independent Investigation
Stage Three - Complaints Review Panel
Stage One - Informal Problem Solving
The Welland Trust workers and service providers seek wherever possible to resolve matters as part of their normal daily routines and duties, but where they are unable to do so, The Welland Trust staff are instructed to make the complainant aware of this procedure and advise them about who they should contact to make their dissatisfaction known. In the first instance this will be the Chief Executive Officer or other designated local manager who will acknowledge the complaint within 3 working days, and specify which member of staff will address it and seek to resolve matters with the complainant.
The person appointed at Stage 1 will contact the complainant and attempt to resolve the complaint informally through discussion, negotiation and/or mediation, offering practical action where this will resolve the complaint. A formal written response will be made within 10 working days, or where this is not possible, within a maximum of 20 working days.
In the event of it not being possible to resolve a complaint informally at local level then the complainant will be informed in writing (stage one outcome letter) of his/her right to pursue the matter further through an Independent Investigator.
In those situations where no attempt has been made by the complainant to resolve the complaint informally at a local level, the Independent Investigator will encourage complainants to follow this route. However where a complainant does not agree to pursue this option then a formal complaint can be lodged at Stage Two of this Procedure.
In this case, the appointed Independent Investigator will respond to the complainant within 5 working days to establish the specific detail of the complaint and to inform the complainant about how the matter will be investigated.
In matters of a serious nature, particularly those concerning child/adult safeguarding protection issues, the appointed Independent Investigator will advise that the complaint must be investigated under the relevant local authority procedures.
Stage Two - Independent Investigation
Under The Welland Trust procedure, the investigation will be carried out by an Independent Investigator who has had no previous involvement with the matter concerned. This may be a member of staff from an organisation independent of The Welland Trust or an externally contracted individual with relevant qualifications and experience. Any such appointment will be made known to and discussed with all parties prior to the commencement of the investigation and agreement gained from all parties in writing that the appointee is suitable and independent.
No one who is the subject of, or who has been involved in seeking to resolve, the complaint informally (stage 1) will be responsible for any investigation conducted under stage 2.
In some circumstances the task of an Independent Investigator may be one of ensuring that the complainant is aware of his/her right to complain under alternative procedures. Where appropriate this could include making the complainant aware of his/her right to seek advice from his/her solicitor, a Member of Parliament, local councillor or local government ombudsman.
The independent investigator will have the right (subject to any necessary permissions) to examine any relevant documents held by The Welland Trust and, as appropriate, to interview clients, suppliers and others whose involvement has been significant. The method and conduct of the investigation will be in accordance with guidelines for Independent Investigators. The target timescale for completing an investigation at Stage 2 is 28 days. If the issues are complex or more time is required, the independent investigator will inform the complainant of revised timescales for the completion of their investigation.
The Independent Investigator will submit a written report within 5 working days of completing the investigation. Within this report the Independent Investigator will reach a view about the findings and whether the complaint is upheld. The guidelines for Independent Investigators indicate that they should prepare their written reports on the assumption that the content will be shared with the complainant and other parties.
The outcome of the investigation and the response on behalf of The Welland Trust will be communicated in writing within a further 5 working days to the complainant and other relevant parties, which may include making all or some of the Independent Investigator’s report available.
The decision about making all or some of the Independent Investigator’s report available will take full account of issues of client confidentiality and data protection legislation.
Stage Three – Complaints Review Panel
Where a complainant remains dissatisfied with the response at stage 2, they may request that a complaints review panel be set up to consider the complaint investigation and its findings. The request must be received within 28 days of receiving the outcome in writing of the stage 2 independent investigation.
The panel will consist of a Trustee from The Welland Trust Board of Trustees, another senior Welland Trust manager who has no connection with the complaint and someone who is independent of The Welland Trust i.e. an individual with a relevant background and expertise who is not an employee of The Welland Trust.
A complaints review panel meeting will be convened and the venue and date/time for this will be agreed with the complainant and the procedure and background documentation will be circulated to all parties.
The complainant makes his / her representation to the panel either in person or by written report who will then make an initial response to the complainant within 24 hours. A full written response will be provided within 5 working days.
Who Can Make A Complaint?
• A Welland Trust client
• A service provider representative or colleague
• Anyone else for whom The Welland Trust have agreed to provide a service
With complaints that are specifically about The Welland Trust or Welland Trust Trustee, then it may be still appropriate and possible to achieve an informal resolution of the difficulties that have arisen.
However, it is understood that in such circumstances a complainant might wish to request a formal (stage 2) investigation from the outset.
The client has the right to complain to the Charity Commission if they are dissatisfied with the response provided by the Welland Trust.
The Charity Commissions website is https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/charity-commission
Information about how to complain
A copy of The Welland Trust Representation & Complaints Procedure is available on the Welland Trust website (www.thewellandtrust.org) and will be provided on request to:
• Service providers
• Any service or organisation that requests a copy
Designated Complaints Receiving Officer
The Designated Complaints Receiving Officer is the Chief Executive Officer of The Welland Trust.
The post holder’s role within The Welland Trust is to monitor and promote quality in all aspects of the organisation’s activities, ensuring the necessary authority for complaints is properly investigated and responded to.
The Chief Executive Officer has responsibility to:
• Monitor all representations and complaints dealt with locally at stage one; through responding to requests for advice from The Welland Trust staff and quarterly monitoring returns
• Oversee the investigation of complaints that cannot be resolved at stage 1.
• Advise on matters of The Welland Trust policies and procedures and the law, requirements and good practice guidance which underwrite them.
• Ensure that the complainant is aware of other avenues of complaint open to him / her.
• Ensure that the relevant parties receive copies of the Independent Investigators’ reports as appropriate and that outcomes are communicated to all concerned in line with Data Protection principles.
• Ensure the smooth running of the complaints review panel arrangements including the convening and servicing of the panel.
• Maintain records of all complaints and their outcomes and ensure that such information is incorporated in relevant reviews of The Welland Trust’s quality strategy and made available (in suitably anonymised format) in response to any reasonable written request.
The Welland Trust has a policy of encouraging clients to inspect and evaluate our services.
If you wish to download our Representation and Complaints Procedure in pdf format, please click on the link below: