CASCAIDr Complaints Policy

CASCAIDr is committed to providing a high quality, transparent and accessible service to everyone we deal with.

We believe we achieve this most of the time, but in order to ensure our services remain at a high and improving standard, we have a procedure through which you can let us know of for any reason why you are not satisfied with your dealings with the organisation.

We handle any expression of dissatisfaction with our service which calls for a response as a complaint, whether justified or not. We promise to listen to your complaints, treat them seriously, and learn from them so that we can continuously improve our service.

Our policy covers complaints about:
• the standard of service you should expect from us
• the behaviour of our case workers or volunteers in delivering that service
• any action, or lack of action, by us or others engaged on CASCAIDr business

Our complaints policy does not cover:
• comments, dissatisfaction or complaints about our policies or policy decisions – we have to remain in charge of those, and they are what they are, in effect, although we endeavour to develop them and arrive at them in a respectful and non-partisan way – and if you don’t think that we’ve done that, you CAN complain about that.
• matters that have already been fully investigated through this complaints procedure or vexatious complaints
• anonymous complaints

Making a complaint

If you are unhappy about any CASCAIDr service, please speak to the Chief Executive.

If you are unhappy with an individual working on CASCAIDr’s behalf, sometimes it is best to tell that person, directly.

If you feel this is difficult or inappropriate then please speak to the Chief Executive.

Often we will be able to give you a response straight away setting out how the problem will be dealt with. If you are not satisfied with our initial response or wish to raise the matter more formally, please write to the Chief Executive by email.

If your complaint is about the Chief Executive, please write to the Chair of the Trustees c/o trustees@cascaidr.org.uk.

We can receive complaints by letter or email, or alternatively if required by virtue of reasonable adjustments you may telephone us and an officer will make a written record of your complaint.

If a third party is helping a complainant with a particular complaint, we may need written consent to that effect. Where we have this authority, we will endeavour to take all possible steps to keep the third party informed of progress on the complaint.

You can expect to be treated with courtesy, respect and fairness at all times. We expect that you will also treat those dealing with your complaint with the same courtesy, respect and fairness. Complainants who harass us in a way that amounts to molestation as opposed to ordinary persistence, or who have been abusive, aggressive or threatening towards our officers, their families or associates – directly or indirectly, will be considered to be behaving unreasonably and we may take further action to protect our officers, including reporting concerns to the police, restricting any access to premises or telephone contact and refusing future services.

Complaints Investigation Procedure

We will acknowledge receipt of a written complaint within three working days where we have a return address and you can expect to have a full reply within 10 working days.

In a few cases we will not be able to send a full reply within 10 working days of receipt, for example if your complaint is very complex. If this happens, we will tell you the reason why and let you know when we will be able to reply in full, keeping you fully informed of progress.

We will not treat you less favourably than anyone else because of your:
• sex or legal marital or same-sex partnership status: this includes family status, responsibility for dependants, and gender (including gender reassignment, whether proposed, commenced or completed)
• sexual orientation
• colour or race: this includes ethnic or national origin or nationality
• disability
• religious or political beliefs, or trade union affiliation
• any other unjustifiable factors, for example language difficulties, age, pregnancy and maternity.

When we get things wrong we will act to:
• accept responsibility and apologise
• explain what went wrong and why, and
• put things right by making any changes required
• learn lessons from mistakes and change policies and practices where proportionate and sensible to do so

The action we take to put matters right (i.e. redress) in response to a complaint can include any combination of the remedies set out in the list below. The general principle we follow is that complainants should, so far as possible, be put in the position they would have been in, had things not gone wrong. The remedy applied needs to be proportionate and appropriate to the failure in service, and take into account what redress people seek when they complain. An apology is generally the most appropriate action, but other action may also be necessary in some circumstances.

If, after we have responded, you are not satisfied please write to the Chair who will report the matter to the next meeting of the Trustees’ Board, which will decide on any further steps to resolve the situation.

Please note that complaint details, outcomes and actions taken are recorded by us and used for service improvement. We record all complaints we receive and collate data from them to help us understand what types of problems are most prevalent, and how well we are doing to resolve them.

Finally, please also let us know if you are happy with CASCAIDr’s services. We need to spread the word and add to the feedback on the Site.

Annex: vexatious or disproportionately persistent complaints

We sometimes receive complaints which can be deemed ‘vexatious’ or ‘repetitive’. Some of these complaints can be costly to handle; or responding to them may be a disproportionate use of our officer’s time. Deciding whether a complaint is vexatious requires us in each case to take into account the context and history of the complaint. We will consider whether the complaint is likely to cause unjustified distress, disruption or irritation.

The concern we will address is whether a complaint is vexatious in terms of the effect of the request on us and not whether the applicant is personally vexatious. By its ordinary meaning, the term ‘vexatious’ refers to activity that “is likely to cause distress or irritation, literally to vex a person to whom it is directed”.

For a complaint to be vexatious, we will consider whether there is a proper or justified cause for it. We will not only examine the complaint itself, but also its context and history. That context may include other complaints made by the applicant to us (whether complied with or refused), the number and subject matter of the complaints, as well as the history of other dealings between the complainant and ourselves. The effect a complaint will have may be determined as much, or indeed more, by that context as by the complaint itself. We will take into consideration the following factors (which are not an exhaustive list) when determining whether a complaint is vexatious:
• where the complaint requests information which has already been provided
• where the nature and extent of the complainant’s correspondence with us suggests an obsessive approach to disclosure
• where the tone adopted in correspondence by the complainant is confrontational and/or haranguing and demonstrates that the purpose is to argue and not really to obtain information
• where the correspondence could reasonably be expected to have a negative effect on the health and well-being of our officers
• where the complaint, viewed as a whole, appears to be intended simply to re-open issues which have been disputed several times before, and is, in effect, the pursuit of a complaint by alternative means
• where responding to the complaint would likely entail substantial and disproportionate financial and administrative burdens for us
• where it is not a one-off complaint, but a case of the same complaints having been made repeatedly, or where on repetition, the particulars of the complaints have been varied making it difficult to know exactly what the complainant is seeking and making it less likely that the request can be satisfied
No single one of the above factors would lead to a finding, by itself, that a complaint was vexatious. However, based on the strength of the various factors, taken together with the history and context of a complaint, a complaint may be deemed vexatious by CASCAIDr.