SDMS Id Number:

P2012/0126-001

Overarching Policy:

DHHS Complaints and Feedback Management Policy P0030/2010 (under review)

Effective From:

Replaces Doc. No:

DS056

Custodian and Review Responsibility:

Disability, Housing and Community Services - Disability and Community Services

Contact:

Ingrid Ganley DHCS - DCS - Director, Disability and Community Services

Applies to:

All Staff

Review Date:

March 2018

Key Words:

Compliment, Complaint, Community Sector, disability, community services

Routine Disclosure:

Yes

Approval

Prepared by

Community Liaison Advisor

1300 135 513

29 January 2015

Through

Area Manager, Disability and Community Services North

1300 135 513

4 February 2015

Through

Manager Disability Policy and Programs

1300 135 513

13 February 2015

Cleared by

Director, Disability and Community Services

1300 135 513

February 2015

Revision History

Version

Approved By Title

Amendment Notes

0.B

Director, Disability and Community Services

Updated to reflect the broader role of DCS including community services. Provides greater clarity on investigation process.

0.C

Director, Disability and Community Services

Insertion of statement relating to NDIS Transition.

Introduction

Disability and Community Services recognises that feedback is important and extremely valuable in the provision of safe, quality support and service provision. Feedback from people who access funded disability and community services, their families or carers, significant other, advocates and other stakeholders assists in identifying areas for improvement and contributes towards enhancing service delivery.

Compliments management is vital to the identification of what we are doing well.  The dissemination of this information can improve staff morale and may support and enhance client satisfaction across the service.

Effective complaints management is fundamental to the provision of quality service.  A primary focus of complaints management is on the identification of risk and the prevention of errors in order to reduce the potential of harm and dissatisfaction to clients.

This procedure provides direction and guidance for people with disability, people accessing community services, community sector organisations and Disability and Community Services for notifying and responding to compliments and complaints received regarding disability and community services.

The Compliments and Complaints Procedure is complimentary and subordinate to:

  • DHHS Complaints and Feedback Management Policy P0030/2010 (under review)
  • DHHS Complaints Management Procedure 2010 (under review)
  • Preventing and Responding to Abuse in Services Funded by Disability Services Policy P2010/1102-001 and Procedure P2012/0177-014.

Mandatory Requirements

  • Failure to comply with this policy, without providing a good reason for doing so, may lead to disciplinary action.
  • Agency funded CSOs are required to comply with the Quality and Safety Framework as per their Funding Agreements. Failure to comply may result in breach of Funding Agreement.
  • Include the NDIS Transition Statement
  • This following statement should be included at a logical location in the document. Preferably close to the beginning after the purpose or introduction.

Transition to the NDIS

  • Until commencement of the Full Scheme NDIS on 1 July 2019 all providers delivering DCS funded specialist disability services and services to NDIS funded participants are required to maintain compliance with DCS policies and procedures.
  • Working collaboratively, open communication and information sharing during this transition period are essential. Providers with questions about DCS policies and procedures should contact their DCS Area Office, Community Partnership Team for clarification.
  • Existing arrangements relating to Quality and Safety will remain in place for all individuals and NDIS participants until a National Approach is finalised. Eg. providers are required to comply with the DHHS Quality and Safety Standards Framework for Tasmania's Agency Funded Community Sector and ensure compliance with the Tasmanian Disability Services Act (2011) and Tasmanian Disability Services Regulations (2015). Providers will be notified formally of any change in arrangements relating to quality assurance.

Procedure

Compliments

Disability and Community Services (DCS)
  1. Receipt of all compliments will be acknowledged by the relevant Disability and Community Services area office.
  2. The Disability and Community Services area office will forward the compliment onto the appropriate employee and their supervisor.
  3. The relevant Disability and Community Services area office will record and report all compliments and statistics as required.
DCS funded Community Sector Organisations
  1. Should DCS receive any compliments regarding DCS funded Community Sector Organisations (CSOs) these will be acknowledged by the relevant Disability and Community Services area office.
  2. The Disability and Community Services area office will forward the compliment onto the appropriate CSO and record the details.
  3. Upon receipt the CSO will follow their internal feedback procedures.

Complaints

Disability and Community Services

As per DHHS Complaints and Feedback Management Policy (under review): "Complaints that are not resolved at the point of service, or that are received in writing and require follow up, are regarded as formal complaints."

Complaints may be verbal or written. A verbal complaint should not be dismissed out-of-hand, particularly if the complainant would have difficulty putting the complaint into written form. Assistance should be provided to document the complaint or a referral made to an advocacy service.

Complaints may also indicate allegations of abuse or neglect (see AAA forms) or complaints may be referred via the National Disability Abuse and Neglect Hotline. Complaints may also relate to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) (see NDIS Complaints Fact Sheet).

Responding to complaints will be administered from the DCS Directorate and managed at an area level.

  1. Receipt of all complaints will be acknowledged by the relevant Disability and Community Services area office.  Formal complaints will be acknowledged by the Area Manager or their delegate within three (3) working days.
    1. The Community Partnership Team (CPT) in each area is responsible for administration, recording and investigation of complaints.
    2. Acknowledgement must provide contact details of the person who is handling the complaint, how the complaint will be dealt with and how long it is expected to take, where appropriate.
    3. If the complaint is related directly to a service provided by DCS, then the matter can be referred to another area office to manage.
  2. Complaints provided verbally should be documented by the recipient (or person who follows up with the complainant, generally a member of the CPT).  The person who contacted the complainant and recorded their complaint is then responsible for confirming the accuracy of the documentation with the complainant, within three (3) working days from the initial contact.
  3. Complaints will be managed in the following way:
    1. Complaints will be investigated (see definition) at the area level and with the least amount of formality whenever possible, however the seriousness of some complaints may indicate a more formal review.
    2. Management of complaints will be conducted in a courteous and professional manner without any form of retribution against the client or their representative.
    3. Complaints will be managed in a confidential manner and stored securely (either electronically or physically) with restricted access.  Complaints are managed and filed separately from client files.  All personal information will be handled in accordance with the Personal Information Protection Act 2004.
    4. The complainant has the choice to remain anonymous or confidential; however this may impact upon the investigation and feedback process.  A complainant should be advised they have the right to bring a support person or advocate to any meetings associated with their complaint.
    5. Response to the complainant verbally or in writing as appropriate, should occur within 20 working days of the initial complaint.
    6. If the complainant is unsatisfied with the outcome of the Disability and Community Services area office response, then the matter can be referred to the Director, Disability and Community Services.
DHHS funded Community Sector Organisations
  1. Complaints concerning funded Community Sector Organisations (CSOs) should be raised with the CSO in the first instance and managed in accordance with their complaints management process.
    1. If a resolution is not achieved between the complainant and the CSO, then the Disability and Community Services area office, with consent from the complainant, will investigate the matter on their behalf.
    2. If the complainant is unsatisfied with the outcome of the Disability and Community Services area office response, then the matter can be referred to the Director, Disability and Community Services State Office.

Roles and Responsibilities/Delegations

  • This procedure should be read in conjunction with the DHHS Complaints and Feedback Management Policy P0030/2010 (under review) which provides direction on the reporting and investigation of complaints, including allegations of abuse and neglect.
  • DCS is responsible for compliance with the overarching DHHS policy and for recording, responding to and investigating any complaints and compliments as appropriate.
  • DCS is responsible for providing training and support processes for employees dealing with complaints, including providing effective referral mechanisms where appropriate.

Key Definitions

DHHS and the 'Agency'

  • Refers to the entire Department made up of Departmental Units – responsible for policy, planning and performance; and interface with government, and Operational Units – responsible for delivering services against policies, plans and standards set by the departmental units.
Compliment
  • A compliment is an expression or implication of praise.
Complaint
  • A complaint is any expression of dissatisfaction or concern, by or on behalf of a client, their family or carer, significant other, advocate or other stakeholder regarding any aspect of service provision or support.
  • A complaint can be made verbally or in writing.
  • A complaint is not:
    • a request for information or explanation regarding aspects of Disability and Community Services operations – this should be dealt with by provision of the rationale for specific decision making, policy or practice
    • an appeal against a decision, including appeals against the determination of a complaint – this should be dealt with under the prescribed appeals process
    • a staff grievance – this is to be dealt with under the Agency Grievance Management Procedure (2014) P2012/0182-24.
Complainant
  • The person who is making the complaint.
Investigate
  • All Investigations should reflect the rules of Natural Justice and Procedural Fairness. A summary of how the complaint was investigated should be placed on file.
  • There are five components to an investigation.
    • Collect evidence about what happened – this may involve direct observation, collation of documentation relating to the complaint, interviews with parties to the complaint
    • Assemble and consider the evidence
    • Compare the findings with relevant standards, protocols or guidelines, whether national or local, to establish the facts, draw conclusions about causation and make recommendations for actions to minimise risk
    • Develop an improvement strategy with prioritised actions, responsibilities, timescales and strategies for measuring the effectiveness of actions
    • Implement the improvement strategy and track progress, including the effectiveness of actions.

Further guidance on undertaking Investigations may be found in the DHHS Investigations Procedure. (SDMS 20100809).

Natural Justice
  • The rules of Natural Justice are as follows:
    • the person accused should receive notice of, and know the nature of the accusation made against him or her
    • the person accused should be given the opportunity to state his or her case
    • the person or body hearing the case should act in good faith and without bias.
Procedural Fairness
  • The principles of procedural fairness require a decision-maker to:
    • act fairly and provide reasons for decisions
    • give the person who is the subject of a grievance process a fair hearing and an opportunity to present their own case
    • be unbiased and disinterested in the outcome of the disciplinary process
    • base their decision on relevant evidence and exclude all irrelevant arguments.
Respondent
  • The person or service about whom the complaint is made.

Related Documents/Legislation

  • Right to Information Act 2009
  • Australian Standard on Complaints Handling AS 4269 – 1995
  • Employment Obligations – DHHS Policy P2012/0182-004
  • Employment Obligations – Worker Policy P2012/0182-004
  • Grievance Management Procedure (2014) P2012/0182-24
  • Compliments and Complaints Policy for Tasmania's Agency Funded Community Sector Organisations 2009 (under review)
  • DHHS Complaints and Feedback Management Policy P0030/2010 (under review)
  • DHHS Complaints Management Procedure 2010 P2010/0030-003 (under review)
  • DHHS Investigations Procedure (SDMS 20100809)
  • DHHS Work Health and Safety Policy P2012/0182-002
  • Disability Services Act 2011
  • Restrictive Interventions in Services for People with Disability Procedure (2014) P2012/0177-005
  • Personal Information Protection Act 2004
  • Preventing and Responding to Abuse in Services Policy (2014) P2010/1102-001
  • Preventing and Responding to Abuse in Services Procedure (2014) P2012/0177-014
  • Disability Services Strategic Plan 2015-2018
  • Tasmanian Disability Framework for Action 2013-17
  • Partnership Agreement between DHHS, DPAC and the Community Sector Tasmania 2012-2015
  • Consumer Related Serious Incident Reporting Policy for Tasmania’s DHHS Funded Community Sector (2013) P2010/0831-001
  • Consumer Related Serious Incident Reporting Procedure for Tasmania's DHHS Funded Community Sector (2013) P2012/0579-003

Attachments

  1. Compliments and Complaints – DCS - Factsheet
  2. Compliments and Complaints – DCS – Easy Read Factsheet

This Procedure may be varied, withdrawn or replaced at any time. Compliance with this directive is mandatory for the Department . Please Destroy Printed Copies. The electronic version of this Procedure is the approved and current version and is located on the Department's Strategic Document Management System. Any printed version is uncontrolled and therefore not current.