COMMENTS, COMPLAINTS AND COMPLIMENTS POLICY

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1 COMMENTS, COMPLAINTS AND COMPLIMENTS POLICY DOCUMENT STATUS SCOPE Unclassified This policy sets out Genesis Housing Association's approach to managing complaints from customers. This policy does not cover complaints from landlords who own properties we manage, such as private landlords whose properties are leased for the purposes of providing temporary housing, or from other businesses we contract with. VERSION NUMBER 2.0 REASON FOR REVIEW APPROVED BY Genesis Way Programme review CSG APPROVAL DATE 4 December 2012 EFFECTIVE FROM 10 June 2013 ACCOUNTABLE DIRECTOR POLICY OWNER POLICY AUTHOR Laurice Ponting, Executive Director of Communities John Pender, Head of Customer Engagement Laura Smith DATE OF NEXT REVIEW 10 June 2016 STAFF CONSULTATION Complaints review consultation undertaken with: Complaints Property Services Housing Management Voids and Allocations Temporary Housing Care and Support Contact Centre Contracts Page 1 of 10

2 RESIDENT CONSULTATION EQUALITY IMPACT ASSESSMENT (EIA) Customer Accounts (including leasehold) Sales Development Genesis Community Complaints review consultation undertaken with: Complainants Regional Committee members COMPLETION DATE December 2012 TYPE OF EIA UNDERTAKEN Initial Page 2 of 10

3 1 INTRODUCTION We welcome feedback on our services, whether positive or negative. Effective handling of complaints increases resident confidence and satisfaction and can provide valuable insights into what we do well and where we need to improve. Good complaint handling comes from good customer relationship management. Genesis believes that in order to resolve the complaints of our customers we must understand their needs through actively listening to the individual. Objectives Genesis Housing Association aims to: encourage feedback, both positive and negative resolve complaints to the resident s satisfaction, quickly and sensitively resolve complaints at the first point of contact, wherever possible use comments, complaints and compliments to help us improve our services and reduce the level of complaints in future. 2 DEFINITIONS Comment A comment is positive or negative feedback about our service, which does not require a response. Complaint A complaint is any expression of dissatisfaction, in any form, with our services, whether justified or not, which requires a response. Compliment A compliment is an unsolicited expression of gratitude or praise for a member of staff or service area. Formal complaint Either a complaint that cannot be resolved quickly at point of contact, or one where the customer has requested a formal, written response. Page 3 of 10

4 Informal complaint A complaint that can be resolved quickly at first point of contact, which means a written response is unnecessary. Service request A request for a service, such as a repair or the logging of an ASB incident, which has not been made to Genesis previously. 3 MAKING A COMMENT Anyone can make a comment to Genesis. All comments will be recorded and be investigated, and we will take action as required. Comments on areas of strength or weakness are used to continuously improve our service. Comments should be sent to 4 GIVING A COMPLIMENT Anyone who has a relationship with Genesis can compliment a member of staff, a team or the organisation as a whole. Compliments are passed on to staff and their line manager, and are used to identify areas of good practice we can learn from. Compliments should be sent to 5 MAKING A COMPLAINT Anyone who receives a service from us can make a complaint. This includes: residents, or prospective residents, of properties owned or managed by Genesis customers in receipt of services such as floating support, domiciliary care or community development work from Genesis residents neighbouring Genesis properties or development sites. MPs, Councillors and other advocates Residents may also complain through a third party such as an MP or Councillor, the Citizen s Advice bureau or other advocate. Where the third party is not an MP, Councillor or a person with power of attorney, we will require the written permission of the resident to correspond with their advocate. We will correspond with the advocate and copy the resident in on any communications. Enquiries from MPs and Councillors about operational matters should be logged and tracked as general enquiries. How to complain Residents who wish to complain about our service should contact the contact centre, a Genesis reception or, in the case of those in Care and Support, a member of the team at that scheme. Complaints can be made on our website or Page 4 of 10

5 by , letter, phone, fax or in person. The address is Support We accept complaints in any language. If a customer needs help to put their complaint in writing, or needs an interpreter to help them make a verbal complaint, we will make the necessary arrangements for this on request. Properties managed by agents If a complaint relates to an agency providing a service on behalf of Genesis Housing Association, the customer must finish the agency s complaints procedure before making a complaint to us. Time limits Complaints must be made within six months of the matter occurring, unless it has only recently become known or concerns an on-going delay. We may accept older complaints at the discretion of the manager responsible for the service. Complaints received by executive or board members Where a member of the Genesis Executive or the Board receives a complaint, they will pass it on to the Contact Centre to be processed in accordance with our procedure. Responding officers should send a copy of the final response at any stage to the relevant member of the executive or board. Exclusions If the issue is not a complaint within the definition of this policy, we will deal with it through the relevant alternative procedure. This includes: a first request for service, information or an explanation of our policies and procedures neighbour disputes or anti-social behaviour, unless the complaint refers to our failure to deal with the disagreement appropriately issues regarding hate crime or domestic violence a claim being dealt with by our insurers issues where a resident has commenced legal action against us a dispute against the amount of rent or service charge being charged appeals against policy decisions. How we will deal with complaints We will deal with complaints impartially, objectively and professionally. Making a complaint will not result in any adverse consequence such as removing a service. We will take ownership, apologise where we have made a mistake and aim to resolve the complaint to the customer s satisfaction. Page 5 of 10

6 Initial contact Customers may make a complaint to anyone in the organisation. We will try to deal with the issue right away at first point of contact. If the member of staff receiving the complaint cannot resolve it within our standard enquiry timescale of three days, the complaint will be formally logged and referred to the relevant service. Investigation When we log a formal complaint, we will acknowledge it within 24 hours, and refer it to the relevant member of staff. They will contact the customer within two working days to establish what they need for resolution and to agree a timescale. We will check whether they need any kind of support, and we will explain the procedure. It is expected that most complaints can be resolved within 10 working days, but there may be times when it is necessary to agree a longer timescale. All formal complaints must receive a written response within 28 days outlining any future action to be taken if resolution within that timescale is not possible. If the timescale we agree needs to be changed for any reason, we will consult the customer. We will provide a full written response in plain English. It will contain a summary of the complaint, our response including any action we are taking, an apology if appropriate, and details of how to appeal against our decision. Appeal If the customer believes we have not provided them with an adequate response, or they believe that our response is wrong, they can appeal. On receipt of an appeal, we will contact them to establish the reasons. If we cannot easily resolve any outstanding actions, the appeal will be referred to an Investigations Officer. After we establish the reason, the Investigations Officer will either: Refer the complaint back to the service with a request to reconsider all or specific parts of the complaint Investigate the matter and review the original decision Advise that no further action will be taken, if they decide that the complaint has been dealt with fairly, and in accordance with our policies and procedures at the formal stage. If the decision is taken to refer or to investigate, the person responsible for the appeal response will contact the customer to agree timescales. We will provide a full written response in plain English. It will contain a summary of the appeal, our response, an apology if appropriate, and confirmation that they have now completed our complaints process. The timescales for appeals are as follows: Page 6 of 10

7 Type of appeal Referral back to service Independent investigation No further action Timescale 10 working days 28 days 5 working days The Investigations Officer will decide which of these options to pursue. This decision will be based on the suitability of the route according to the information available to them and not on the preference of the customer. It may occasionally be necessary for a member of staff who is not an Investigations Officer to conduct the independent investigation, for example where the appeal is with regard to how an Investigations Officer handled an initial complaint. In these circumstances a deputy director, head of service or member of the executive will carry out the investigation. Compensation Compensation, where appropriate, can be paid at any stage in the complaints process. All compensation payments should be made in line with our Compensation policy and authorised by someone with the relevant budgetary authority. Complaints about a member of staff If a complaint is made about the conduct of a member of staff, the individual(s) will not be asked to investigate. Their line manager will investigate and will keep the individual member of staff informed in line with our policies on staff conduct. Details of individual performance management action plans will not be discussed with residents. Suspected abuse If something leads the person managing the complaint to suspect that abuse is taking place, they should refer to our Safeguarding policies and procedures. Vexatious or abusive complaints Complaints must be made in a reasonable manner. We will not accept the complaint where the behaviour of the customer has become unreasonable for example, if they are being threatening or abusive in any way. Where a resident makes repeated complaints about the same issue, with little or no new information, we will treat the subsequent complaints as follows. If the customer has not exhausted our internal complaints process, we will escalate their complaint to the next stage. Where we consider the original complaint to have exhausted our complaints process, they may apply to the ombudsman. If they continue to send correspondence regarding the complaint once we advise the matter is closed, we will advise once more that we will not enter into the matter further without significant new information. Any further Page 7 of 10

8 correspondence should be logged against the customer, but the responding officer should not send a response. Anonymous complaints If we receive an anonymous complaint, this may highlight a problem with the way residents perceive a service, or it might raise a whistle-blowing issue that needs to be followed up. We will therefore record, investigate and monitor anonymous complaints in the same way that we treat comments. Page 8 of 10

9 Media involvement If the complainant refers to a media story, the responding officer must refer to the Press and PR team for advice in line with our media handling protocol. Alternative dispute resolution Where a complaint has not been resolved at the point of the customer s initial contact with us, we may consider using mediation or adjudication. Whether mediation or adjudication is used will be decided on a case-by-case basis. The customer can refuse mediation and insist that the complaint be dealt with through the formal procedure only. 6 EXTERNAL APPEALS AGAINST COMPLAINT RESPONSES Customers and applicants If a complaint has reached the final stage of our procedure and they still believe our response is incorrect or incomplete, tenants, leaseholders and applicants can request a referral to the Housing Ombudsman by a designated person. This designated person could be any MP in England, a councillor for the local authority for the property, or a tenant panel recognised by Genesis. Alternatively, if the complainant waits 8 weeks, they can contact the ombudsman directly. They can be contacted at: Housing Ombudsman Service, 81, Aldwych London WC2B 4HN Tel: We will follow any recommendations made by the Housing Ombudsman. Any actions recommended by the designated person will be passed to the relevant head of service for consideration. Local authorities/care commission Customers in temporary housing can also complain to their local authority. Customerss in receipt of services such as floating support or domiciliary care can refer their complaint to: the relevant local authority supporting people team for complaints about a support service; or the Care Quality Commission for complaints about registered care services. Charity commission Customers receiving services from our charitable foundation, Genesis Community, can refer their complaint to the Charity Commission. Page 9 of 10

10 7 MONITORING AND LEARNING FROM COMMENTS, COMPLIMENTS AND COMPLAINTS Gathering feedback from our customers on their experience of our services is important. We use this feedback to improve the service we provide. We will keep and analyse all complaints, compliments and comments we receive and will monitor timescales for responding to them. We will use diversity analysis to understand the nature of our complaints. We will provide regular reports on the quantity of comments, compliments and complaints submitted, and on the lessons we have learned from them. We will report this information to senior management teams, the Board and to customers. 8 TRAINING All staff will be appropriately trained to provide high quality, customer-focused services. Staff who handle complaints will be trained to manage them effectively. 9 PUBLICISING OUR POLICY AND PROCEDURES Our Comments, Compliments and Complaints policy and the process for making a complaint will be publicised and easy to access. We will publicise our approach in a variety of formats, including large print, audio, Braille and other languages on request. 10 RELATED DOCUMENTS Internal Compensation policy Anti-social behaviour policy Harassment policy Safeguarding policies Domestic violence policy Code of conduct (HR) Disciplinary procedure (HR) Whistleblowing Policy (HR) Relevant operational policies and procedures, occupancy agreements and handbooks. External Housing Ombudsman: Complaints Procedures Good Practice Page 10 of 10

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