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«Because we care about our customers. We need your comments At Dorset County Council we aim to put the customer at the heart of everything we do. We ...»

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Comments, Compliments,


Tell us your views

Dorset County Council

Working together for a strong and successful Dorset

Comments, Compliments, Complaints

Because we care about our customers…

We need your comments

At Dorset County Council we aim to put the customer

at the heart of everything we do. We let people know

about our services in a variety of ways - everything from

the internet to our council newspaper. We also work with

services across the Council to improve customer service through a set of customer care standards.

We believe in constantly improving our services, so if you have a comment, compliment or a complaint we would like you to tell us.

Any comment, good or bad, helps us to understand what people do and don’t like about our services, and the things we need to do better in the future.

We receive letters of appreciation and suggestions as well as complaints. Don’t wait until you have a complaint to get in touch – if you can suggest how we can do things better, please contact us. We want to make sure that the services we provide meet your needs and reflect your views wherever possible.

Our contact details are included in the ‘useful contacts’ section of this leaflet.

Comments, Compliments, Complaints How do you tell us what you think?

The best way is to talk to people who provide the service. It is helpful if you can write down your suggestions – if you wish, a member of staff can help you to do this. If you prefer, you can ask a friend or relative to speak on your behalf, or ask another organisation, such as your local Citizens Advice Bureau to assist you.

Making a Compliment If you wish to compliment Dorset County Council you can complete a compliments form online (http://www.dorsetforyou.

com/complaints/county) or contact our customer services team who will ensure that your compliments are recorded and passed on to the relevant Head of Service and member of staff.

Compliments are very important to us and we very much appreciate being informed by customers that we are doing things right. We would like the opportunity to thank you for your compliments and encourage you to include a contact address so that we can send you an acknowledgement.

Making a Complaint If something does go wrong we need to be able to put it right quickly, and take action to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

It is helpful if you can say what solution you are looking for. Our staff will listen carefully to what you say and try to settle your complaint in a fair, prompt and polite way.

You (or someone acting on your behalf) can make a complaint to a complaints officer/manager, any member of staff or electe

–  –  –

1. By telephone to our complaints line: 01305 221061.

2. In writing or by e-mail (our address is included in the useful contacts section at the end of this leaflet);

3. In person at County Hall or at an office nearer to you (phone and ask if you are not sure where this might be, or if you would like to make an appointment first);

4. Online at http://www.dorsetforyou.com/complaints/county.

There are separate complaints procedures explained in this

leaflet about:

• Non-social care services

• Social care services for adults

• Social care services for children

• Schools

• Elected members

• The Local Government Ombudsman

• The Information Commissioner Comments, Compliments, Complaints

–  –  –

• Acknowledge that we have received your complaint within three working days of receiving it. In the meantime, the officer asked to deal with your complaint will talk to the staff concerned and read any records held;

–  –  –

Stage 2 If your complaint hasn’t been answered to your satisfaction and you want to take it further, you can write to the Chief Executive at County Hall in Dorchester. It would be helpful if you could be clear about which parts of your complaint you feel have not been dealt with to your satisfaction and say what you would like to happen.

The Chief Executive will either review your complaint, or if she considers that there is a significant unresolved issue, she may appoint an appropriate officer (independent of the service concerned) to investigate your complaint.

The officer will speak to everyone involved in the complaint, including you, and read all the relevant records. Within 28 working days of being appointed, the officer will report to the Chief Executive, who will carefully consider all the findings.

In very rare cases the Chief Executive may feel it necessary to refer the complaint to a Complaints Panel. This is made up of relevant members of the County Council. The Panel will meet within a month of your complaint being referred to the Chief Executive and a response provided to you within two months.

The Chief Executive will write to you with Dorset County Council’s final response to your complaint including if appropriate what we will do to put things right. If there is a delay for some reason, we will tell you why and let you know when you can expect a decision.

Comments, Compliments, Complaints Complaints about social care services for adults There is a separate procedure for safeguarding vulnerable adults. If you are concerned that someone may be at risk of harm you may contact our Adult Access Team on 01305 221016 who will be able to help you.

In compliance with The Local Authority Social Services and National Health Service Complaints (England) Regulations 2009 we will, within three working days of receiving a formal complaint, acknowledge the complaint and offer you the opportunity to discuss either by telephone or face-to-face how the complaint is to be handled.

There are a number of ways that we can address the issues of

your complaint, below are a few examples:

• The relevant team manager may talk through the issues with you and write to you with their response;

• A meeting may be arranged with key people involved in the complaint and yourself to discuss the issues;

• A formal investigation into your complaint may take place.

Whatever option is taken we will discuss this with you and advise you how long it is likely to take to find out the outcome.

If your complaint is about a registered care home or independent provider you may complain directly to them.

You may also contact the regulator, the Care Quality Commission, at any time (contact details are at the end of this leaflet).

If your complaint involves both health and adult social care services you can expect to receive a single response from the organisation which takes overall responsibility for answering your complaint. That organisation will speak to the others involved to ensure all points of complaint are addressed and answered.

Comments, Compliments, Complaints Complaints about social care services for children If you believe a child may have been harmed by a person in a position of trust such as someone who works in a school, you should contact the Safeguarding Unit, Tel: 01305 221122.

Children’s Services have a call back request facility. Children and young people including those in care can Text “call me” and their name to the Children’s Services complaints team (01305

225076) who will telephone back. This facility is available to all, but primarily aimed at children and young people including those in care who wish to make a complaint.

If you have any concerns about a service, please contact a member of that service in the first instance. Staff will try to respond to your issues and will explain the procedure to you.

Children’s Services are usually only required to deal with complaints about things that have happened within the last 12 months. Please contact the Complaints Manager for further advice.

Our complaints procedure complies with the Children Act 1989 Representation Procedure (England) Regulations 2006. The way we deal with complaints about social care services is set out in the government guidance – Getting the Best from Complaints.

There are currently 3 stages to the procedure which are governed by statutory timescales.

Comments, Compliments, Complaints Stage 1 – local resolution Most complaints are resolved at this stage. We aim to resolve your complaint within 10 working days and by 20 working days at the latest.

Stage 2 – investigation If your complaint has not been resolved at Stage 1, or you remain dissatisfied, you should contact the Complaints Manager within 20 working days of receiving the response to your complaint. When you do this, please be clear about which aspects of your complaint you believe have not been resolved.

An external person to the County Council will be appointed to investigate your complaint, along with an Independent Person to ensure that the process is open, transparent and fair.

The investigators will speak with everyone involved in your complaint, including you, read all the relevant records and write a report for the Head of Family Support. You will receive a copy of the draft report for comment on factual accuracy. You will receive a formal response to your complaint within 25 working days. If necessary, an extension to 65 working days will be agreed with you.

–  –  –

If having gone through the complaints procedure, you are still unhappy you can ask the Local Government Ombudsman to examine your complaint. There are no further stages to the procedure.

The Complaints Manager also deals with complaints from children and young people who receive social care services.

These services, especially those for looked after children and care leavers are subject to particular regulations. Further details are available from the Complaints Manager for Children’s Services, or for independent advocacy, telephone the Children’s Rights Services on 01305 753657 or textphone 0751 9671686 Complaints about Schools Each school has its own complaints procedure and this can be obtained from the school. In the first instance complaints should be addressed to the Head teacher. Complaints about the Head teacher should be addressed to the Chair of Governors. The school will tell you the best way to make contact. You should include details to assist the investigation such as dates and times, names of potential witnesses and all relevant documents.

Once you have the response from the Head teacher, you will be able to decide whether the action taken (or not taken) was reasonable and whether anything further can be done. In most cases the problem will have been resolved by this stage.

However, if you are not happy with the outcome you will need to contact the Chair of Governors.

If after the governors have dealt with your complaint, you are still not satisfied with the decision that was taken, you can contact the Department for Education.

Comments, Compliments, Complaints Complaints about elected members If you are unhappy about the way a county councillor - or ‘elected member’- has behaved you can complain to the County Council’s Standards Committee.

The Standards Committee can deal only with complaints about the behaviour of an elected member. It will not deal with complaints about things that are not covered by the Members’ Code of Conduct. If you make a complaint to the Committee it must be about why you think a member has not followed the Code of Conduct.

Your complaint must be in writing, which includes e-mail, fax or on paper. If a disability prevents you from making your complaint in writing you may contact our customer services team for assistance.

A complaints form and information about the Members Code of Conduct can be found at http://www.dorsetforyou.com/20268 or copies can be obtained from customer services.

The Members Code of Conduct is in section 5 of the

Constitution of Dorset County Council:


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What else can you do?

If, having gone through our complaints procedure, you are still unhappy you may wish to ask the Local Government Ombusdman (LGO) and/or the Information Commissioner (ICO) to examine your complaint.

LGO The LGO is an independent person who investigates allegations of maladministration causing injustice to the person who has complained. The LGO investigates complaints about most council matters including housing, planning, education, social services and council tax.

The LGO has a leaflet called: ‘Complained to the Council? Still not satisfied?’ The LGO can provide information in EasyRead, large print format, Braille and alternative languages. You can download a copy of their leaflet online at www.lgo.org.uk or request a copy by telephoning or writing to the LGO.

Contact details for the LGO are in the useful contacts section of this leaflet.

ICO The Information Commissioner’s Office is the UK’s independent authority set up to uphold information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals. The ICO enforces and oversees the Data Protection Act, the Freedom of Information Act, the Environmental Information Regulations, and the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations.

Many data protection problems can be solved quickly without the ICO getting involved. You can call the ICO helpline for advice to help you to solve the problem. Contact details for the ICO are in the useful contacts section of this leaflet.

Comments, Compliments, Complaints

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LGO Advice Lines:

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