FPS Complaints – Good practice principles
Good practice principles
Front line staff should familiarise themselves with Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 which changed the practices of government and public authorities so that equality of opportunity and good relations are central to policy making, policy implementation, policy review and service delivery.
These are good practice principles for anyone handling a complaint either a verbal complaint or written complaint but are particularly for front line staff e.g. receptionist.
A lot are common sense and common courtesy – how we would all like to be treated. Treated with respect and dignity.
- Identify yourself – it is always good practice to identify yourself.
- Listening carefully – find out the real nature of the problem- the person may be anxious or upset and find difficulty expressing their issues. Take the extra couple of moments – it will pay off.
- Helpful, sensitive, courteous – people making complaints want to be taken seriously; offer to help; show you want to help; stay calm and empathetic;
- Don’t argue! Try to defuse the situation. (Be aware of local arrangements regarding how to deal with aggressive situations)
- Confidentiality – discuss protection of patient/client confidentiality; ensure the patient/client is agreeable to discussions about them – consent/authorisation.
- An apology can often resolve matters quickly. It’s ok to say sorry!
- Take ownership – attempt to find a solution but don’t “jump in” with solutions until you are sure you have heard and understood their complaint – people often initially only want someone to listen to them – get something “off their chest”.
- Check details.
- Ask what they would like to happen.
- Agree actions.
- Emphasise resolution is best as quickly as possible and as near to the point of contact as possible.
- Don’t make promises you can’t keep.
- Don’t blame others or policies.
- Ask for help from someone else e.g. line manager, supervisor, colleague etc, – if you are in doubt; are unsure how to handle; think you are ‘out of your depth’ or need someone to provide you with support.
- If a complaint raises a specific urgent concern or risk, ensure the patient/client’s immediate needs are met before looking at the other aspects of the complaint.
- Do you know who the designated person is for managing complaints within your organisation? And how to contact them?
- Ask staff to ensure that leaflets on how to make a complaint are displayed in all public areas/facilities (show or give copies of your organisation’s leaflets).
- If staff have dealt with a verbal complaint, discuss how they are expected to document and report this within the individual organisation. If there is a form, provide them with a copy for reference. If the complainant is still unhappy, advise of the formal process and provide them with a complaints leaflet.
- A good service is everyone’s responsibility!
- Treat others as you would like to be treated yourself!
- Staff can be part of the solution not part of the problem!