A Risk Response

New approach to processing and assessing complaints against services

Over the past few years, the Care Inspectorate has been trialling a number of new approaches to the way it processes complaints made about care. Recent changes include the establishment of a contact centre to improve its response to complaints, and the development of a new shorter, more concise complaints report format which focuses on the evidence considered and conclusions reached.

The latest development of the complaints process, which has been piloted and received positive feedback, involves taking a risk assessment approach to dealing with complaints.

The complaints team will risk assess each complaint it receives in order to provide a proportionate response, with the more urgent cases receiving immediate attention.

The new complaints risk assessment process uses a ‘traffic light’ system to triage complaints and to determine the most appropriate response.

Marie Paterson, Service Manager Complaints and Inspection, said: “The risk assessment approach is key to enable us to triage the complaints that come in to us and ensure that we investigate those that highlight the greatest risk to people who use services.

“This risk assessment tool supports a change in our approach by identifying complaints that may not be investigated by a formal investigation by complaints staff, but will instead be noted as intelligence, passed back to the provider for investigation or resolved through front-line resolution.

“We recognise that complaints are best resolved as close to the point of service delivery as possible, so, for some cases, we will determine it appropriate to remit the complaint back to the service provider for them to resolve quickly and informally, or investigate and respond.”

The risk assessment of a complaint will take into account the information provided, the inspection history of the care service, the next inspection date and an assessment of the likelihood of the issues being more widespread within the service.

Marie added: “Our intention is to only refer complaints back to a provider if they have a suitable complaints procedure and have evidenced their ability to address such matters effectively, although we will not usually do this for sole traders or childminders.”

Thanks to greater awareness of people’s rights to enjoy safe, high-quality and compassionate care that meets their needs, the Care Inspectorate has seen a nearly 50 per cent increase in complaints raised over the past five years. In 2015/16, it received 4,086 complaints about care services – that’s more than 340 complaints a month.

The new risk assessment process will help the complaints team prioritise complaints that place people at risk – in particular with protection issues – and ensure it uses its investigation resources appropriately.