Dealing with your complaint

We know that sometimes things can go wrong.  If you’re unhappy with a service, or about a decision, you can make a complaint.

Talking it over first 

It’s usually better to raise your concerns with the service involved before you use our complaints procedure, this includes those organisations that are providing a service on behalf of the council. Often an issue can be sorted out by talking to an officer, a manager or another person in the service.  

If you’ve tried this and are still unhappy, or you want us to look into the problem and write to you with a response, please 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'll still record your contact as a complaint but say that we've 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 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 children’s social care complaints

If we cannot resolve your complaint quickly through early resolution a formal investigation will be undertaken.

We manage all customer compliments and complaints in line with our management of customer feedback procedure. This is a working document for our officers to use and explains in detail how customer complaints and compliments should be handled. If you'd like more information on how your compliment or complaint will be handled or you'd like to see a copy of this procedure, please contact us.

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.

Our complaints procedure

The procedure has two 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 to five working days (it sometimes may be a little longer, but we will always contact you), either by telephone, email or in writing.

We'll then:

  • talk to you about your concern and find out what you would like us to do.
  • agree with you a timescale for investigating your complaint. This can be between 10 to 65 working days depending upon how complex your complaint is.
  • allocate a person who is going to look into your complaint.
  • write all of this down in a complaint resolution plan for you to see 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 is dealing with your complaint.

Stage two - complaint review

If you’re not happy with the outcome of the first stage investigation then you can let the Customer Feedback, Information and Improvement Team know about this. The team will work with you to understand why you feel your complaint has not been resolved and identify any gaps in the investigation. These gaps will be shared with the Executive Director of the Service who will decide if a review of your complaint will be undertaken. A review is not another investigation but will look at providing you with an answer to the complaints you feel remain unanswered.

Once you've been advised that your complaint will be considered at this stage, it can take between 10 and 30 working days to complete a review, depending on how complex your complaint is. However, we will always let you know how long we expect your review to take.

Not all complaints will progress onto the review stage but we will always write to you to let you know why this is and to advise you on who you can contact if you remain unhappy with our decision.

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.  

Adult social care complaints 

We use the same procedure for investigating complaints about adult social care services. However, if you remain unhappy after you have received your stage one complaint response you don’t have to ask us to review your complaint as you can contact the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman directly.

If you’re arranging and paying for your own care services, you should complain directly to the organisation providing your care. If you're not happy about the way they respond to your complaint, you can contact the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.

You can also share your complaint with the Care Quality Commission.  

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.