Council to learn from its mistakes dealing with adult service complaints in Calderdale

Redeploying some staff who investigated complaints to those who needed care led to a longer time before a resolution was reached during the COVID-19 pandemic, councillors heard.

Saturday, 27th November 2021, 12:00 pm
Director of Adults Services and Wellbeing, Iain Baines

Calderdale Council’s Director of Adults Services and Wellbeing, Iain Baines, said the important thing for him was the council listened to whoever made a complaint, a resolution was reached, acknowledging that sometimes the council got it wrong.

A resolution should result in an improvement for that individual and the council could learn so it did not make the mistake again, he said.

Coun Ann Kingstone (Lab, Skircoat) said if the standard was 15 days’ response time, it looked as though response times had been three or four times as long.

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The council’s Complaints and Compliments officer, Richard Noble, said a new system was now being implemented which would streamline the process.

The ongoing COVID pandemic had an effect as there were a certain number of people dedicated to investigating complaints in adult services and when the first lockdown occurred their time was put into dealing with those who needed care, he said.

Mr Baines said the pandemic had made the process difficult but the council should not hide behind that and the directorate was committed to improved performance to meet the 15-day resolution target – met in 75 per cent of cases.

Some of the cases which exceeded this often needed to get third party information but he hoped improvements would be seen in future reports.

Sometimes it was right more time was taken, said Mr Baines: “I would sooner we take three months and it is done well than dealt with in 15 days.”

Cabinet member for Adults Services and Wellbeing, Coun Josh Fenton-Glynn (Lab, Calder) said the important thing was learning lessons when the council had fallen short so the mistake was not made again.

Councillors heard customers were engaged with from the beginning and going over the timeline was not necessarily a failure but that the service was properly investigating.

From April 1, 2020, to March 31, 2021, 29 complaints, two Local Government Ombudsman complaints and 22 compliments had been received by the directorate, members of the council’s Adults, Health and Social Care Scrutiny Board heard.

Year on year comparison with 2019-20 saw a reduction of nine complaints.

Of the 29, six complaints were upheld, ten were partially upheld, six were not upheld and seven were withdrawn by the complainant, councillors heard.

Most complaints focus on the level and standard of care received by the service users, with other areas of concern being four complaints regarding decisions made by the service – down from 13 in the previous period.

The remainder concerned matters such as care placements and fees, conduct of social workers towards service users and family members and issues surrounding discharge from hospital.

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