Agenda Item No. 8
THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL
SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (SOCIAL CARE AND HEALTH): 1 SEPTEMBER 2014
REFERENCE FROM CABINET: 28 JULY 2014
C2414 REPRESENTATIONS AND COMPLAINTS IN SOCIAL SERVICES: NEW GUIDANCE FROM WELSH GOVERNMENT (AS, CS) (SCRUTINY COMMITTEE – SOCIAL CARE AND HEALTH) –
Cabinet were apprised of new guidance and regulations in relation to Social Services Representations and Complaints, which would be implemented on 1 August, 2014.
The Council's current Social Services Representations and Complaints Procedure had been in use since 2006; it was designed to conform with the national guidance 'Listening and Learning'. In November, 2013 the Deputy Minister for Social Services made it known that the Social Services Complaints Procedure was to be brought in line with the All-Wales 'Model Concerns and Complaints Policy and Guidance' issued by the Welsh Government in July 2011 and the NHS Complaints Procedure 'Putting Things Right'.
An extensive consultation exercise was undertaken by the Welsh Government during 2012/13 and a wide range of stakeholders were invited to take part in the exercise. The exercise identified that the current arrangements were too complicated and that service users often did not understand how to complain about services they had received.
The post-consultation draft, "A guide to handling complaints and representations by local authority social services", was issued by Welsh Government on 14 May, 2014. The implementation date for the new Regulations and Guidance was 1 August, 2014.
The process consisted of three stages:
Stage 1: Local Resolution
Stage 2: Formal Consideration
Stage 3: The Independent Panel
The key changes within the new guidance were summarised below:
· a twelve-month time limit in which to bring a complaint, unless there were exceptional circumstances;
· a focus on local resolution initially – complainants were to be offered a discussion to resolve their complaints within 10 days of the complaint being received;
· an independent investigator had to be independent of the local authority;
· removal of the Stage 3 Panel - from 1 August, 2014, if a complaint or representation was not resolved at the Formal Investigation Stage (Stage 2), the complainant must be advised that they had the right to complain to the Public Services Ombudsman. The Ombudsman’s office would aim to complete all investigations within 12 months: and
· greater emphasis on learning lessons.
The focus of the new procedure was on informal resolution and the regulations required that all those who raised a concern were offered a discussion (either face-to-face or by telephone) in an attempt to informally resolve the matter. A further major difference was the removal of the independent panel stage. The new two-stage process was in line with the Model Concerns and Complaints Policy and Guidance and the NHS Complaints procedure, 'Putting Things Right'.
This was a matter for Executive decision.
(1) T H A T the content of the report be endorsed.
(2) T H A T the Director of Social Services, in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Adult Services, the Cabinet Member for Children's Services and the Managing Director be authorised to revise the Social Service Complaints and Representations Procedure, to ensure compliance with the new guidance and regulations once these had been finalised by the Welsh Government.
(3) T H A T this report be referred to Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health) for information.
Reasons for decisions
(1) To be aware of and endorse the changes to the Council's procedures for managing complaints and representations in Social Services that will be required.
(2) To ensure compliance with the new regulations and guidance.
(3) To ensure that the Scrutiny Committee was informed about the changes.
Attached as Appendix – Report to Cabinet – 28 JULY 2014