Thursday, 24 April 2014

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Children, Young People and Families - Complaints and Comments

On this page: If you wish to make a comment or complaint about the services provided by Swindon's Children, Young People and Families service, this page will provide help and guidance on how to go about it.

How to Complain

Initially, you should get in touch the person who is your normal contact. This might be a social worker, key worker, teacher or foster parent.

Hopefully they will be able to resolve the situation to your satisfaction. But if they can’t, or you are still not happy, you can register your complaint with the Complaints Manager for Children, Young People and Families Department.

Registering Your Complaint

There are a number of ways you can register your complaint:

  • In writing by post to:

         The Complaints Manager
         Children, Young People and Families Services
         Swindon Borough Council
         Wat Tyler West (Floor 3)
         Beckhampton Street
         Swindon
         SN1 2JH

  • By Telephoning: 01793 463302

Help in Making a Complaint

If you are a young person in care, or a disabled young person, the Complaints Manager can arrange for someone to help you through the complaints process. This person (who is known as an 'Advocate') will not tell you what to say and will not tell you whether you’re right or wrong. They will just listen to the points you wish to make and then help you make them. They will also make sure your complaint is listened to, help you understand any information you receive and explain to you what is going on.

If you want to appoint your own 'Advocate' an organisation called 'Voice' can help you. Voice is a major advocacy organisation for children in need or who are living away from home and provides a national helpline. This service is totally independent from the Council. Please see the Voice website (www.voiceyp.org) for details.

The Complaints Manager can also give help to anyone who needs it, can explain the complaints process provide information about the progress in dealing with your complaint.

The Complaints Process

The complaints process is in three stages:

Stage 1 – Local Investigation

Initially, your complaint will be investigated by the appropriate local Team Manager from the Children, Young People and Families Team. This may involve meeting with you to discuss your complaint and how it can be put right. If you have an advocate, they can be with you at any meetings.

When the investigation is complete the Team Manager will write to you with their response. We aim to respond in 10 working days, but if this is not possible we may ask you if we can extend the deadline to 20 working days.

If, after the stage 1 investigation is complete, you're not happy with the outcome, you can contact the Complaints Manager who will escalate your complaint to the next stage (independent investigaion) in the process.

Stage 2 - Independent Investigation

Depending on the type of complaint you have registered, during this second stage, your complaint will be investigated by either one or two people. The first investigator will be someone who works for Swindon Borough Council but who has not had any dealings with you before. If there is a second investigator, they will be an independent person who is not an employee of the Council. You can talk to the investigators by yourself, with a friend, a relative or with an advocate.

Following investigation, the investigator(s) will write a report and make recommendations of what should be done to resolve your complaint. You will be given a copy of this report together with a reply to your complaint. We aim to respond within 25 working days but if this is not possible we may ask you if we can extend the deadline for up to 65 working days.

If your complaint is about a Social Care service you can contact the Complaints Manager and ask for your complaint to be looked at again, under the third stage of the complaints process below.

If your complaint is about a children's community health service, you can go escalate your complaint to the Health Service Ombudsman. Please see 'Taking Your Complaint Further' (below) for the Ombudsman's website and contact details.

If you are unsure whether your complaint is a 'social care' or 'children's community health service' complaint, please contact the Complaints Manager for details.

Stage 3 - Review Panel Hearing

This stage is for complaints about a Social Care service only and involves a 'review panel' of three independent people meeting with you, and those involved in the Stage 1 and 2 investigations to discuss your complaint. None of the review panel will be employees of Swindon Borough Council, and none will have had any previous knowledge of your complaint. The independent investigating officer will also be present, as well as the independent person where appropriate.

Once again, you can talk to these people by yourself, with a friend, a relative or an advocate.

After talking to everybody and listening very carefully to what is being said, the panel will make a decision about the best way to resolve your complaint. You will receive a letter from the panel telling you what they have agreed, and then one from the Director of the Children, Young People and Families Service in response to the panel’s decision.

Taking the Complaint Further

Stage 3 (above) is the last stage in the Council's complaints process. If you wish to take a Social Care complaint further, you may contact the Local Government Ombudsman and ask them to investigate.

Childrens community health service complaints should be referred to the Health Services Ombudsman (www.ombudsman.org.uk) if you remain unhappy after Stage 2.

If you are not sure which Ombudsman you should contact, please ask the Complaints Manager for advice.

For ease of reference, the information contained in this web page is also available in the following leaflet: 

Annual Complaints Report 2012-2013

Information on comments, complaints and compliments received about childrens social care and community health services is contained in the:

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