The Board considered a report of the Strategic Director, Communities which provided an analysis of complaints, compliments and other enquiries processed under the Local Authority Social Services and National Health Service Complaints (England) Regulations 2009 and to meet the statutory requirement to publish an Annual Report.
The Board was advised that from April 2009 a common approach to handling complaints in the NHS and Adult Social Care had been introduced and aimed at encouraging complaints handling that was tailored for each individual and handled more flexibly. It was reported that it allowed a more efficient and effective way of responding to, and learning from, complaints whilst encouraging the best outcome for both the individual and the organisation.
It was reported that complaints had been analysed by the majority processed in the normal way (Stage 1) and those of a more complex nature (Stage 2). There had been 73, statutory complaints closed at stage 1, in the year, showing an increase of 19 (35%) from the previous year. Of those 73 there were 4 that had progressed to Stage 2.
In addition, it was reported that there had been 77 new complaints received in the year, 22 more than the last year when it was 55, which indicated a 40% increase in complaints. It was also reported that during the year 5091 people had received a service from Adult Social Care Services, 1.51% of them had made a complaint which represented an increase from the previous year from 1.09%. The categories of these complaints were set out in the report.
The Board noted the outcome of closed Stage 1 Statutory Complaints and the Category of the 73 closed Stage 1 Statutory Complaints that were upheld in full or part.
In respect of Stage two complaints there had been five complaints. None had been undertaken by an External Independent Investigator and all had been conducted internally by Senior Managers. Of these, three complaints had been partially upheld and two had been completely upheld.
In addition, it was reported that the complaints system had been evaluated by asking people how satisfied they were with the way their complaint had been handled. The Board noted the summary of findings from the 27 service users.
In conclusion, it was reported that a new and developing report for the Communities Directorate focused on compliments and provided a more in depth analysis. Compliments provided a balance and illustrated that the services we provided made a real difference to the lives of vulnerable people and their families. Compliments had been received across a broad range of service areas and the Board noted the examples of compliments that had been received.
The following comments arose from the discussion:-
· It was suggested that some people did not like to make a formal complaint and preferred to mention their concerns to a member of staff. Clarity was sought on whether this would be dealt with in the same way as a formal complaint. In response, it was reported that a risk assessment would be undertaken and an appropriate response/action taken to the situation;
· It was noted that the significant costs and the increase in publicity related to residential care was having an impact on the number of complaints as expectations were higher;
· Clarity was sought on whether there was a timescale on complaints i.e. when a patient dies and the family are grieving. In response, it was reported that there was guidance relating to timescales i.e. a year. However, Halton looked sympathetically towards such complaints and dealt with them appropriately; and
· Regarding paragraph 3.1.16 of the report – Complaints with dignity and safeguarding elements, clarity was sought on the outcome of these complaints. In response, it was reported that this information would be circulated to all Members of the Board.
RESOLVED: That the report and comments raised be noted.