How to Resolve Complaints from Persistent and Complicated Service Users

Wed 4 October 2017

The Caledonian Club 9 Halkin Street London SW1X 7DR

Answers to 11 Thorny Questions: Directly from 4 Ombudsmen and 3 Complaints Handling Pros

5hrs CPD

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  1. Registration and coffee

  2. Chair's Introduction

    How to handle complaints from persistent and complicated service users

    Chaired by: Jo Nuckley, The Office of the Independent Adjudicator of Higher Education

    Jo is Head of the Adjudications Team at the OIA and a member of the Management Group.

  3. ​Outside procedures

    To what extent can you allow staff to go outside of procedures; when the procedures don't fit or won't yield a solution?

    Answered by: Paul Conroy, Director of Intake and Assessment, Local Government Ombudsman

    Paul is a member of the LGO’s Executive Team. He previously served as an Investigator and Assistant Ombudsman. He led the piloting of the Government’s schools complaints service.

  4. ​Reassure staff

    What steps can you take to reassure staff caught in the middle of persistent and complex complaints; so they do not feel attacked, abused or as though they are in trouble?

    Answered by: Dr Mike Biles, former Housing Ombudsman

    Mike is hugely experienced having been Housing Ombudsman for 14 years. He helped hundreds of providers and their residents settle grievances and so sustain positive relationships.

  5. Morning coffee

  6. ​Mental health

    How do you recognise and differentiate, when complaints from people with mental health conditions often present as vexatious?

    Answered by: Olivia Craig, CEO of Plymouth & District Mind

    Olivia helps public and private sector organisations deal with the mental health of their users. A former Operations manager, she has developed a number of community partnerships focusing on supporting vulnerable people.

  7. ​Scattergun

    What is a tangible methodology for handling scattergun approaches, i.e. complainants unwilling to accept decisions and copying senior staff, councillors, and MPs into emails?

    Answered by: Iain Rowan, Assistant Director of Academic Services, University of Sunderland.

    Iain is a specialist writer for the QAA’s Quality Code on student complaints and appeals and Secretary to ARC’s Practitioner Group on Student Complaints and Appeals.

  8. Over-run

  9. Lunch

  10. ​Validity

    If a complaint from a problematic service user is clearly unjustified or invalid from the outset; what is required of you in terms of a proportionate investigation and response?

    Answered by: Kieran Seale, Assistant Director at Verita

    Kieran has wide experience of delivering complaints solutions to the NHS, local government and private sector. He led the review of a conflict of interest issue at a CCG for NHS England.

  11. Early referral

    When is the Ombudsman willing to take or comment on a complaint that hasn’t been through your internal staged procedures, i.e. "early referral"?

    Answered by: Nick Bennett, Public Services Ombudsman for Wales

    Nick looks into complaints about all public services in Wales, including the NHS, Local Government and Housing. His aim is to improve public service delivery and inform policy.

  12. ​Checklist

    What are the key guidance points for staff when alerted to complainants' mental health diagnosis, e.g. staffing levels, time taken for investigation, resources etc.?

    Answered by: Christine Noble of seAp, the Independent Advocacy Service for Vulnerable People

    Chris is on the senior management team. Her experience spans the Citizens Advice Bureau as a Mental Health Project worker helping people with severe and enduring mental health difficulties.

  13. Over-run

  14. Close of conference

** All speaker quotes are taken from Chambers Directory, Who's Who Legal and Legal 500

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