On this page: Information for young people, parents and carers on complaining about services.
What to do if Things go Wrong
Swindon Borough Council wants to provide good quality services but sometimes things can go wrong. If this happens we need to know so that we can put it right and learn from what you say.
We would also like to hear from you if you have a comment or suggestion that would help us to improve the service, or if you think something works well.
The information contained in this web page is also available in the following downloadable leaflet: Children and Young People's Complaints (PDF)
How to Complain
The quickest way to get a problem sorted out is to speak to the person who you normally contact. This might be a social worker, key worker, teacher or foster parent. Hopefully they can get things put right.
But if they can’t, or you are still not happy, you can contact the Complaints Manager and make a formal complaint. She can help you make your complaint and make sure that your voice is heard.
Contacting the Complaints Manager
You can write, email, telephone or send a text. If you leave a message, the Manager will ring you back.
Swindon Borough Council
Tel: 01793 463302
Text: 07795 256544
If you prefer you can use our online feedback form - please see Customer Services - Complaints and Feedback.
Help in Making a Complaint
If you are a young person in care, or a disabled young person, the Complaints Manager can arrange for an advocate to help you through the complaints process.
An advocate is a person who can support you while you make your complaint. This person 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.
Advocates and Advice
'Voice' is a major children's advocacy organisation for children living away from home or in need and provides a national helpline - please see the Voice website (www.voiceyp.org). This service is completely independent of the Council.
The Complaints Manager can also give help to anyone who needs it, and can explain the complaints process and will keep you informed of progress in dealing with your complaint.
The Complaints Process
Stage 1 – The Local Stage
The Complaints Manager will arrange for the Team Manager to investigate your complaint. This may involve meeting 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 You're Still Not Happy
You can contact the Complaints Manager and ask for your complaint to be looked at again, under the second stage of the complaints process.
Stage 2 - Independent Investigation
The Complaints Manager will arrange for your complaint to be formally investigated again, by one or two people, depending on what kind of complaint it is. One 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. This person will not be an employee of the Council. You can talk to the investigators by yourself, with a friend, relative or advocate.
The investigator or investigators will write a report and make recommendations of what should be done to put your complaint right. The Service Manager will then send you a reply to your complaint together with copies of the reports .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 You're Still Not Happy
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 an NHS service, you can go direct to the Health Service Ombudsman to ask them to look at your complaint. A link to their website with their contact details is below in the section “Taking Your Complaint Further”.
If you are not sure whether your complaint is a Social Care or NHS complaint, please contact the Complaints Manager who will be able to help.
Stage 3 - Review Panel Hearing
This is for Social Care Complaints only. At this stage a panel of three independent people will meet to discuss your complaint with you and those who have been involved in trying to put it right for you.
The review panel is made up of three people. None of them will be employees of Swindon Borough Council, and none of them will have had any previous knowledge of your complaint.
The independent investigating officer will be present, as well as the independent person where appropriate.
Once again, you can talk to these people by yourself, with a friend, relative or 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 sort out your complaint. You will receive a letter from the panel telling you what they have agreed, and then one from the Director of Integrated Children's and Young People's Services in response to the panel’s decision.
Taking the Complaint Further
Stage 3 (see above) is the last stage of the Council's complaints process. If you wish to take a Social Care complaint further, you can contact the Local Government Ombudsman and ask them to investigate.
NHS 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.
Annual Complaints Report 2011-2012
Information on comments, complaints and compliments received about the social care of children and young people is contained in the Children and Young People's Social Care Complaints Annual Report 2011-12.