Taking control of complaints

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At a time like this, as the Covid-19 crisis continues to hit care homes particularly hard, it must be difficult for those working in the care homes sector to feel like they are in control. All care home staff are fighting a common enemy, one which they can’t see and which is particularly cruel in the way it affects those who are most weak and vulnerable.

In the midst of this though, it is important to cling on to those elements of care home life that can be controlled – that is, the procedures put in place to deal with situations which may be different from one another, but have certain common themes and causes at their root.

A good example of this is complaints handling. All care homes will receive complaints from time to time from residents or their representatives about any number of things, from care provisions themselves to the actions of staff or even complaints about other residents.

The varied and unpredictable nature of complaints can make it difficult to know how each one should be dealt with, and this in itself can become a source of worry and stress for managers. While it is important to treat each complaint on its own merits, it is possible – and important – to have a coherent structure in place for addressing complaints as and when they arise.

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) has, in collaboration with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), released a free online resource designed to assist care home managers and staff with precisely this issue.

Care home complaints is available for free on the Business Companion website – the government- backed website written by trading standards experts. It provides authoritative, up-to-date information on the important aspects of consumer law which should be adhered to in the creation of a good complaints handling procedure (CHP), something that should be in place at every care home.

Ensuring that care home managers and staff are familiar with the CHP provides peace of mind that if and when things do go wrong, there is a robust and appropriate way of addressing them. This means managers have a greater degree of control over difficult situations, and also helps to ensure that residents are treated fairly, with respect, and in line with the law.

As CTSI Chief Executive Leon Livermore says:

“Our authors have looked at much of the good work done by the many different bodies involved in adult social care over the past few years.

“It’s important that we all work together to improve the lives of people living in care home accommodation. This guidance has been designed to put residents at the heart of the care they receive, and to help them live fulfilling lives with dignity and respect.”

In addition to the bite-size guidance resources available on the main Care home complaints hub – which includes a short explainer video – there is also a more in-depth guidance booklet which can be downloaded for free. This contains detailed information on consumer law and flow charts which can be used as quick visual guides to dealing with the more common types of complaint.

Taking a few minutes to familiarise yourself with the guidance is a great way of taking back a bit of control in these unpredictable times.

Click here to read an overview of the guidance; click here to download the free booklet.

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