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The Complaints Journey

At the centre of a complaint is someone receiving care – a person

1. Acknowledgement

  1. Complaints are often made by family and representatives of care recipients.
  2. It’s important to involve the care recipient as well as the complainant in the resolution process.
  3. Make complainants feel safe—they may be scared that they’ll be punished.
  4. What might seem a ‘major’ or ‘minor’ problem will be different for everyone.
  5. Listen to and discuss complaints in a private place to minimise anyone overhearing.
  6. Acknowledge the complaint in person, by phone, in a letter or an email.

2. Assessment

  1. Clarify issues and the desired outcome with the complainant.
  2. Establish empathy. Reassure the complainant they’ve been heard.
  3. Confirm complaint will be dealt with confidentially.
  4. Communication is important. A lack of communication can lead to more anxiety and anger.
  5. Give regular updates about the complaint progress.

3. Response

  1. It’s better to share ‘no news’ about the complaint progress than to say nothing.
  2. 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.
  3. Consider giving an apology. It can improve your relationship with a complainant. Always provide an explanation.

4. Follow up

  1. Check if the complainant is satisfied with the resolution.
  2. Where the complainant is unhappy, acknowledge their ongoing concern and offer alternative options including internal reconsideration, advocacy services or the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner.

5. Consider

  1. The complainant’s need for privacy and confidentiality must be respected.
  2. Keep complaint documentation in a safe, locked place.
  3. Complaints can point to issues or problems that could be repeated.
  4. Issues and trends should be reported and analysed.

The complaint journey generally involves dealing with and responding to emotions of:

  1. the care recipient, family member or representative making the complaint
  2. staff handling the complaint and sometimes their colleagues.

Effective policies and procedures recognise the role emotions can play in resolving a complaint.