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Comments, complaints and compliments Policy

VERSION NUMBER 3.2

1. Purpose

We welcome feedback on our services, whether positive or negative. Genesis believes that in order to resolve the complaints of our customers we must understand their needs through actively listening to the individual. Effective handling of complaints increases customer confidence and satisfaction and can provide valuable insights into what we do well and where we need to improve.

We aim 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
  • learn from 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 or concern, 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.
  • Informal complaint - A complaint that can be resolved quickly at first point of contact, and where a written response is not sought by the customer.
  • 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 contact@genesisha.org.uk

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 compliments@genesisha.org.uk

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
  • former customers who have been living in Genesis properties or who have been in receipt of any services offered by Genesis
  • third parties, such as an MP or Councillor, the Citizen’s Advice bureau or other advocate, on behalf of a customer

5.1 Complaints from third parties

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 customer in on any communications.

5.2 How to complain

Complaints can be made on our website or by email, letter, phone, fax or in person. The email address is complaints@genesisha.org.uk Customers may make a complaint to anyone in the organisation. All complaints will be logged by the contact centre.

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.

5.3 Properties managed by agents

If a complaint relates to an agency providing a service on behalf of Genesis Housing Association, the customer must exhaust the agency’s complaints procedure before making a complaint to us.

5.4 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. This time limit is in line with the Housing Ombudsman Service guidance on complaints and the timescales they operate. If a complainant feels that the time limit should not apply, they will need to tell us why so that a decision can be made.

5.5 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.

5.6 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

6. 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 or treating a customer any differently.
  • We will take ownership, apologise where we have made a mistake and aim to resolve the complaint to the customer’s satisfaction.
  • We will be clear about timescales and inform customers throughout any investigation

6.1 Initial Contact

We will try to deal with the issue right away at first point of contact. If the member of staff receiving the complaint considers that they cannot resolve it within our standard enquiry timescale of three days, they will formally log it and refer it immediately to the relevant service.

6.2 Investigation

When we log a formal complaint, we will acknowledge it within one working day, 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 20 working 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 agree a new timescale with 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.

6.3 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 for the appeal. If we cannot easily resolve any outstanding actions, the appeal will be referred to a Complaints Resolution and Learning Officer. After we establish the reason, the Complaints Resolution and Learning 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:

Type of appeal

Timescale

Referral back to service

10 working days

Independent investigation

20 days

No further action

5 working days


The Complaints Resolution and Learning 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 a Complaints Resolution and Learning Officer to conduct the independent investigation, for example where the appeal is with regard to how a Complaints Resolution and Learning Officer handled an initial complaint. In these circumstances a head of service will carry out the investigation.

6.4 Compensation

Compensation, where appropriate, can be paid at any stage in the complaints process. All compensation payments will be made in line with our Compensation policy.

6.5 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.

6.6 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.

6.7 Vexatious or abusive behaviour

To protect our staff we will not engage with customers where the behaviour of the customer has become threatening or abusive.

Where a customer behaves in this way in relation to a complaint:

  • If the customer has not exhausted our internal complaints process, we will escalate the complaint to the next stage.
  • Where we have issued our final decision and the customer remains dissatisfied, we will advise the customer to refer the matter to the relevant ombudsman.
  • If the customer continues to send correspondence regarding the complaint with no new information, we will advise that we have nothing further to add to our final decision letter and repeat that if this is not satisfactory the customer may refer the matter to the relevant ombudsman.

Further information on our approach to dealing with vexatious or abusive behaviour can be found in our Preventing unacceptable behaviour, harassment and violence towards staff policy.

6.8 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.

6.9 Media involvement

If the complainant refers to a media story, the responding officer must refer to the Communications team for advice in line with our media handling protocol.

6.10 Alternative dispute resolution

Where a complaint has not been resolved at the point of the customer’s initial contact with us, we may offer the customer mediation or adjudication if we think this will assist. The customer will be entirely free to accept or reject this offer and may insist that the complaint be dealt with through the formal procedure only.

7. External appeals against complaint responses

If customers are unhappy with the response they receive from us they can ask an external organisation to look into their issues

7.1 The Ombudsman

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 eight weeks, they can contact the Housing Ombudsman directly at:

Exchange Tower

Harbour Exchange Square

London

E14 9GE

Telephone: 0300 111 3000

Email: info@housing-ombudsman.org.uk

Customers in registered care schemes can also contact the Local Government Ombudsman.

We will co-operate fully with the Ombudsman Service during any investigation and comply fully with the resulting decision, which will be binding on us.

Any actions recommended by the designated person will be passed to the relevant head of service for consideration.

7.2 Local authorities

Where we are providing services on behalf of a local authority customers can also complain to their local authority, this will apply to:

  • Customers in temporary housing
  • Customers in receipt of services such as floating support or domiciliary care

7.3 The Charity Commission

Customers receiving services from our charitable foundation, Genesis Community, can refer their complaint to the Charity Commission.

7.4 Care Quality Commission (CQC)

The CQC regulate health and care services. The CQC cannot investigate or resolve complaints about these services on your behalf, if you live in a Genesis registered care scheme and want to make a complaint you should follow this policy. The CQC does however welcome information about services that are delivered and complaints that are made about these and if provided to them will use this to inform its future inspection programme. You can find more information about the CQC at http://www.cqc.org.uk/content/complain-about-service-or-provider

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. 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.

11. Background Legislation

  • Housing Act 1996
  • Localism Act 2011
  • Housing Ombudsman: Complaints Procedures – Good Practice
  • Associated Retirement Community Operators (ARCO) Consumer Code 2015

12. Other useful links

  • Compensation policy
  • Anti-social behaviour policy
  • Harassment policy
  • Safeguarding policies
  • Domestic abuse policy
  • Code of conduct (HR)
  • Disciplinary procedure (HR)
  • Whistleblowing Policy (HR)
  • Preventing unacceptable behaviour, harassment and violence towards staff policy

The Housing Ombudsman: www.housing-ombudsman.org.uk/home

The Local Government Ombudsman: www.lgo.org.uk

The Care Quality Commission: www.cqc.org.uk

The Charity Commission: www.gov.uk/government/organisations/charity- commission

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