The Complaints Journey
At the centre of a complaint is someone receiving care – a person
- Complaints are often made by family and representatives of care recipients.
- It’s important to involve the care recipient as well as the complainant in the resolution process.
- Make complainants feel safe—they may be scared that they’ll be punished.
- What might seem a ‘major’ or ‘minor’ problem will be different for everyone.
- Listen to and discuss complaints in a private place to minimise anyone overhearing.
- Acknowledge the complaint in person, by phone, in a letter or an email.
- Clarify issues and the desired outcome with the complainant.
- Establish empathy. Reassure the complainant they’ve been heard.
- Confirm complaint will be dealt with confidentially.
- Communication is important. A lack of communication can lead to more anxiety and anger.
- Give regular updates about the complaint progress.
- It’s better to share ‘no news’ about the complaint progress than to say nothing.
- Once a decision has been reached it’s important to tell the complainant in a timely manner. Consider the likely emotional response of the complainant and communicate accordingly.
- Consider giving an apology. It can improve your relationship with a complainant. Always provide an explanation.
4. Follow up
- Check if the complainant is satisfied with the resolution.
- Where the complainant is unhappy, acknowledge their ongoing concern and offer alternative options including internal reconsideration, advocacy services or the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner.
- The complainant’s need for privacy and confidentiality must be respected.
- Keep complaint documentation in a safe, locked place.
- Complaints can point to issues or problems that could be repeated.
- Issues and trends should be reported and analysed.
The complaint journey generally involves dealing with and responding to emotions of:
- the care recipient, family member or representative making the complaint
- staff handling the complaint and sometimes their colleagues.
Effective policies and procedures recognise the role emotions can play in resolving a complaint.