If you are unhappy with a children's social care service, or if you disagree with a decision we’ve made, it’s often quicker to sort the problem out by talking to a social worker or a manager within the service.
If you aren’t satisfied with their response, you can contact us to make a complaint.
What happens when you make a complaint
Our Customer Feedback, Information and Improvement Team will contact you about your complaint. They'll work with you to try to sort the problem out quickly and find a solution that you’re happy with. If we're able to sort out the problem quickly and resolve your concern we will still record your contact as a complaint but say that we have resolved it early without any formal investigation – we call this early resolution.
If your complaint is about the safety of a vulnerable adult or a child, we’ll pass the information onto our adults’ or children’s social care teams.
Sometimes we may need to talk to other organisations about your complaint, such as the NHS, or organisations we work with to deliver your services, like residential homes or care providers. Where this is the case, we'll always seek your consent to share your information with them.
If you’re complaining on behalf of somebody else, we may not be able to look into this or provide you with the details of any action we’ve taken. We may need to ask the person if they're happy for you to do this and for us to share their information with you.
We have a different procedure for dealing with complaints that are not about children’s social care that you can read about.
If we cannot resolve your complaint quickly through early resolution a formal investigation will be undertaken.
Sometimes not all contacts we receive are complaints or compliments and we're unable to treat them as this. Where this is the case we will always tell you and if you don’t agree with us, please contact the Customer Feedback, Information and Improvement Team and let us know.
The children's social care procedure
The children’s social care procedure has three stages:
Stage one - investigation and resolution
When we receive your complaint the Customer Feedback, Information and Improvement Team will contact you to acknowledge it within three working days (it sometimes may be a little longer, but we will always contact you), either by telephone, email or in writing.
We will then:
- talk to you about your complaint and find out what you want us to do about the problem.
- agree with you the timescale for dealing with it. This can be between 10 to 20 working days
- allocate a person who is going to look into your complaint.
- write all of this down in a complaints resolution plan, for you to sign and keep a copy of.
- keep you updated on progress throughout your complaint.
- make sure that you get a full written response from the person who’s dealing with your complaint.
Stage two - formal investigation
If you’re not happy with the outcome of the stage one investigation, you can ask the Customer Feedback, Information and Improvement Team for a formal investigation into the matter.
As part of this stage of your complaint we will:
- ask you why you weren’t satisfied with how your complaint has been dealt with and about any issues that you think still haven’t been addressed.
- appoint a complaints investigating officer from the council to look into your complaint.
- bring in an independent person, who is a complaints investigator that isn’t employed by the council, to work alongside our officer.
- agree a timeline for looking into the matter, this can be between 25 to 65 working days.
- write all of this down in a complaint resolution plan for you to sign and keep a copy of.
- share the report of the investigating officer and independent person with the Service Director of Social Care and Safeguarding, for them to decide if we can do anything further to resolve your complaint.
Stage three - review panel hearing
You can ask for your complaint to be heard at a review panel, if you are not happy with the way it’s been investigated, or you don’t agree with our response.
A review panel is not a tribunal and it doesn’t take place in a court. It is a meeting for yourself and the people who have been involved in dealing with your complaint. The purpose of the review panel is to see if it’s possible to come up with a solution to your complaint.
The panel will make some recommendations; these aren’t legal judgements and are not binding upon the council.
The Customer Feedback, Information and Improvement Team will provide you with more information about how the panel meeting works when it has been arranged. Should your complaint be considered at this stage a panel should take place within 30 working days and the Executive Director of People Services will write to you within 15 working days after receiving the panel’s recommendations.
What happens if I'm not happy with the council's response to me?
If you aren’t happy with how we’ve dealt with your complaint, you have the right to ask the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman to look into the matter for you.
Read more about what the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman will do and how to get in touch with them.
Help to make a complaint
You can ask a family member or a friend to make a complaint on your behalf. We’ll need your permission for us to deal with another person before we accept your complaint.
Please tell us if you need any other support to make a complaint. We can tell you about the advocacy services provided by local organisations to help you to have your say.
DIAL Barnsley provide support to customers who wish to make a complaint about adult and children social care services.
If you prefer, you can contact another organisation that offers advocacy support. Please ask us for details.