Purpose and Scope
The purpose of this policy and procedure is to set out how any person can provide feedback and make complaints about any aspect of Horizon Homecare and Support Services’ operations and the process that Horizon Homecare and Support Services will take to address or respond to feedback and complaints.
This policy and procedure apply to all stakeholders of the organisation, including participants, families and Support workers, advocates, staff, other service providers, government agencies and members of the community. It meets relevant legislation, regulations, and standards.
Issues raised by Horizon Homecare and Support Services’ staff would generally be dealt with under Horizon Homecare and Support Services’ Disputes and Grievances Policy and Procedure, however from time-to-time staff may raise issues or provide feedback that is best dealt with under this policy.
Compliments, complaints, and other forms of feedback provide Horizon Homecare and Support Services with valuable information about participant satisfaction and an opportunity to improve upon all aspects of its service. Feedback is taken seriously by Horizon Homecare and Support Services and enables the service to identify areas for improvement, coordinate a consistent approach to complaint resolution, reduce the potential for future complaints and allow for reporting and efficient allocation of resources.
Horizon Homecare and Support Services has an effective feedback, compliment and complaint handling system that addresses the principles of visibility and accessibility, responsiveness, assessment and investigation, feedback, continuous improvement, and service excellence.
Horizon Homecare and Support Services’ approach to feedback, compliments and complaints management ensures:
- that we maintain a complaints management and resolution system to manage and resolve complaints.
- people understand their rights and responsibilities.
- information on the feedback, compliment, and complaint management process is easily accessible.
- people’s confidentiality to be maintained throughout the process.
- satisfaction of participants in the management of their feedback, compliments, and complaints is increased.
- data is recorded to identify existing or emerging trends or systemic issues.
- keeping the feedback, compliments, and complaint records for 7 years, or for a longer period for incidents involving children, from the day the record is made.
- the complaints information will be included on the HHCSS website to let participants and staff be aware of the Feedback, compliments, and complaints system.
- staff to demonstrate an awareness of Horizon Homecare and Support Services’ feedback, compliments, and complaints management processes.
- staff develop and demonstrate the range of skills and capabilities required to manage compliments, complaints, and feedback; and
- organisational culture that focuses on effective, person-centred complaints resolution and utilising feedback and compliments for continuous improvement is enhanced.
Resolving complaints at the earliest opportunity, in a way that respects and values the person’s feedback can be one of the most important factors in recovering the person’s confidence about Horizon Homecare and Support Services’ services. It can also help prevent further escalation of the complaint. A responsive, transparent, efficient, effective, and fair complaint management system will assist Horizon Homecare and Support Services to achieve this.
Horizon Homecare and Support Services will create and maintain a positive complaints culture in which people are not afraid to ‘speak up’ and foster a culture of zero tolerance of abuse of people with a disability.
Horizon Homecare and Support Services’ Manager and Operations Manager will promote best practice, continuous improvement and an open, supportive, respectful culture that encourages and supports staff, participants, and other stakeholders to make complaints and report concerns without fear of retribution. This will be assessed in yearly Performance Reviews of management staff.
Upon commencement, all staff will undergo Induction, which will include information on staff retention approaches including their right to access Horizon Homecare and Support Services’ feedback, complaints, and dispute resolution process. They will also be trained in this policy and procedure and in providing stakeholders with information about feedback, compliments, and complaints.
Annual Performance Reviews will assess staff awareness of this policy and procedure and their roles and responsibilities when service users make complaints. Additional on the-job and formal training will be provided where required. This will also be monitored informally by supervisors and managers.
The agenda for team meetings will include a standing item on Continuous Improvement, including staff and participant feedback and complaints.
Horizon Homecare and Support Services’ Participant Handbook, website and a specific Feedback, Compliments and Complaints Brochure will provide participants, their families and carers and all other stakeholders with information about this policy and procedure, in an easy to-understand format. This will include information on how feedback and complaints will be addressed and who to contact to provide feedback and complaints to external agencies, including external advocacy and support agencies.
Information will be clearly displayed in Horizon Homecare and Support Services’ premises and provided by staff when requested in a variety of formats, including in Easy English and alternative languages.
Horizon Homecare and Support Services will provide all participants, their families and carers with this policy and procedure when they first access the service and, throughout service delivery, remind them of the policy and their right to make a complaint without fear of such affecting their service. Any other stakeholder wishing to lodge feedback, or a complaint will be provided with information regarding this policy.
Complaints and feedback can be lodged by a third party on behalf of another person if their consent has been provided.
All personal information Horizon Homecare and Support Services collects to manage feedback or complaints will be handled in accordance with privacy legislation and Horizon Homecare and Support Services’ Privacy and Confidentiality Policy and Procedure. Feedback and complaints will be dealt with in a confidential manner and will only be discussed with the people directly involved. All information regarding feedback and complaints will be kept securely in accordance with Horizon Homecare and Support Services’ Records and Information Management Policy and Procedure.
The Operations Manager will track and analyse feedback and complaint data to identify any ongoing issues. Feedback, complaints, and dispute resolution matters will be reported to the Manager monthly, as part of Continuous Improvement.
In accordance with the Disability Act 2006 (Vic), Horizon Homecare and Support Services will report annually to the Commissioner in the form required by the Commissioner, specifying the number of complaints received and how the complaints were resolved.
Feedback can be provided to any staff member at any time in any way by any stakeholder, including through:
- a staff member (where applicable).
- Horizon Homecare and Support Services’ public email address.
- phone contact.
- feedback and Complaint Forms.
- staff planning days and Team Management meetings (involving participant and other stakeholder representatives).
- participant forums.
- staff collection of participant feedback after each major interaction with the service (e.g., initial assessment and planning; reviews; exit).
- annual participant service delivery and satisfaction surveys. All participants will be asked to complete these surveys; and
- annual staff and stakeholder satisfaction surveys. All staff will be asked to complete these surveys and stakeholders will be selected on a random basis. Where feedback is provided verbally, the receiving staff member will accurately and promptly transcribe the feedback onto a Horizon Homecare and Support Services’ Feedback and Complaint Form.
Provision of feedback through any of Horizon Homecare and Support Services’ channels is voluntary.
Horizon Homecare and Support Services’ complaints management process
Horizon Homecare and Support Services’ complaints management process can be simplified into five steps:
- Resolve; and
- Communicate resolution
To lodge a complaint, individuals are encouraged to speak directly to a staff member first, to resolve the matter without recourse to the complaints and grievances procedures.
The staff member will:
- Listen – openly to the concerns being raised by the complainant.
- Ask – the complainant what outcome they are seeking.
- Inform – the complainant clearly of the complaint process, the time the process takes and set realistic expectations, ensuring they understand their confidentiality will be maintained throughout the process, and only the people involved directly will be spoken to.
- Be accountable – and empathic towards the affected person and action all commitments made.
- Assess – situations that pose an immediate threat or danger or require a specialised response.
All complaints and grievances will be referred to the Manager for resolution.
The Manager will discuss minor complaints directly with the party involved as a first step towards resolution.
If the complaint cannot be resolved promptly or within 24 hours, the Manager will treat it as a grievance (advising the individual of their right to lodge a grievance if they have not already done so, with the assistance of a support person or advocate if they wish).
A Feedback and Complaints Form will be readily available to individuals to lodge their grievance however it is not mandatory that they use the form. The Feedback and Complaints Form can be used to make anonymous complaints.
Grievances can be lodged:
- directly with a staff member, either verbally or by providing a completed Feedback and Complaints Form.
- by email to: Horizon Homecare and Support email@example.com or by phone on 0474085167 (A/H); or in writing to:
Horizon Homecare and Support Services.
Point Cook Business Centre, Building
C5, Level 1, 2 Main Street, Point Cook in the State of Victoria 3030
At any time, individuals can make a complaint directly to the disability Services Commissioner, the Commission for Children and Young People Victoria; the Victorian Ombudsman; the Office of the Commissioner for Privacy and Data Protection; or the Victorian Independent Broad-based Anti-Corruption Commission (IBAC).
All participants making a complaint will be encouraged to use an advocate of their choice to act on their behalf if they wish. The advocate may be a family member or friend, or sourced (with the assistance of a staff member if required) through the National Disability Advocacy Program. If a complaint alleges actual or possible criminal activity or abuse or neglect, it will be referred to the Manager immediately. The Manager will report the complaint as per Horizon Homecare and Support Services’ Participant Incident Management Policy and Procedure and work with the relevant authority to investigate the allegation.
Staff will take all reasonable steps to ensure the person who made the complaint, any person on whose behalf the complaint was made, and a person with a disability is not adversely affected because a complaint has been made by them or on their behalf.
The Manager will:
- Record – all information that is relevant to the compliment or complaint, in its original and simplest form, in Horizon Homecare and Support Services’ Complaints and Grievances Register.
- Store and protect – the Complaints and Grievances Register in a secure file, accessible only to the Manager.
The Manager will:
- Acknowledge – receipt of the grievance within 2 working days to build a relationship of trust and confidence with the person who raised the complaint.
- Provide anonymity – a person may request to remain anonymous in their lodgement and therefore contact may not be possible or expected.
- Seek desired outcomes – provide realistic expectations and refer the matter to other organisations where they are identified as being more suitable to handle such.
- Avoid conflict of interest – by appointing a person unrelated to the matter as an investigator if necessary.
- Provide timeframes and expectations – to the complainant where possible.
In resolving a complaint or grievance, the Manager will:
- Involve the complainant – keep them informed of the progress of the complaint and discuss any disparities identified in the information held.
- Request additional information – when required, applying a timeframe that limits when it is to be provided by.
- Consider extensions – only where necessary and always communicate any additional time requirements to the complainant with an explanation of the need.
- Record – all decisions or actions of the complaint investigation in Horizon Homecare and Support Services’ Complaints and Grievances Register.
- Focus – on the identified complaint matters only. A complaint is not an opportunity to review a whole case.
Investigation of complaints will not be conducted by a person about whom a complaint has been made. If required, the Manager will determine the appropriate person to undertake the investigation.
5. Communicate resolution
Horizon Homecare and Support Services will respond to all complaints and grievances as soon as possible and within 28 days from acknowledgement.
If a complaint or grievance cannot be responded to in full within 28 days of acknowledgement, an update will be issued to the complainant. The update will provide the date by which a full response can be expected. The update should be provided verbally in the first instance then confirmed in writing.
The Manager will:
- Discuss the outcome – where possible, verbally with the complainant before providing written advice and allowing them the opportunity to make further contact following receipt of the written advice.
- Include information on recourse – what further action may be available to the complainant at the conclusion of the complaint investigation. An action of recourse may be to escalate the matter further with an external agency or for a further review within the organisation.
- Provide a further review – to enable the first investigation to be reviewed for soundness and allow additional information not available in the first complaint to be included.
- Identify opportunities – relay complaint outcomes to the appropriate area within the organisation for action to improve service delivery.
- Seek Feedback – from the complainant regarding their experience of the complaints process.
Support will be provided to assist complainants’ understanding of correspondence regarding complaints and grievances where required (e.g., interpreters, referral to advocates, etc.).
Options for actions responding to a complaint include but are not limited to:
- explaining processes.
- rectifying an issue.
- providing an apology.
- ongoing monitoring of issues; and
- training or education of staff.
Horizon Homecare and Support Services’ Complaints and Grievances Register will be used by the Horizon Homecare and Support Services’ Manager to record every complaint, track investigation progress and outcomes and how the outcomes have been communicated to stakeholders.
Complaints Escalation and Dispute Resolution
If a complainant remains dissatisfied with the outcome of their complaint or grievance, they will be provided with the details of other agencies they can use to assist them to achieve a resolution. If required, and requested, Horizon Homecare and Support Services will assist participants to access an external complaints process of their choosing.
Escalated complaints will be tracked in the Complaints and Grievances Register in the same manner as other complaints and the same communication processes as outlined above will be applied. If necessary, another Manager will undertake communication with the complainant.
Complaints to NDIS Commission can be lodged:
Complaints to the Commission for Children and Young People Victoria can be lodged:
Complaints to the Office of the Commissioner for Privacy and Data Protection can be lodged:
- By phone on 1300 666 444
- online at: www.cpdp.vic.gov.au
Complaints to the Victorian Ombudsman can be lodged:
Complaints to the Victorian Office of the Public Advocate can be lodged:
- by phone on 1300 309 337
- online at: www.publicadvocate.vic.gov.au/opa-feedback-and-complaints
Complaints to the Independent Broad-based Anti-Corruption Commission can be lodged:
- by phone on 1300 735 135
- online at: www.ibac.vic.gov.au
NDIS participants purchasing products and services have rights and protections under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL), including provisions on customer guarantees and unfair contract terms. Consumer Affairs Victoria provides information and advice and, in some cases, dispute resolution services for customer disputes under the ACL.
In addition to Consumer Affairs Victoria, participants of Horizon Homecare and Support Services can also contact the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) if they have concerns regarding consumer protection in relation to finances. https://asic.gov.au/about-asic/contact-us/
In its annual report to the Commissioner, Horizon Homecare and Support Services must report on the number, type, and outcome of complaints, in according with the relevant legislation.
Monitoring and Review
This policy and procedure will be reviewed at least annually by the Management Team and incorporate participant and other stakeholder feedback.
Horizon Homecare and Support Services’ Continuous Improvement Plan will be used to record how the outcomes of feedback have been communicated to stakeholders. Positive feedback will be recorded in the Plan as a way of recording things the organisation does well. If positive feedback relates to a participant or staff member, that person will be formally recognised by the Management Team.
Annual service delivery and satisfaction surveys will include questions regarding:
- satisfaction with Horizon Homecare and Support Services’ feedback and complaints processes.
- whether stakeholders have received adequate information about making complaints and their awareness of complaints mechanisms.
- the extent to which participants and their supporters feel they have been included in the review of feedback and their satisfaction with this process.
- whether stakeholders have received adequate information about how the organisation will use feedback, complaints, and appeals information; and any barriers to lodging complaints and feedback.