Disability Services Commissioner (DSC) offers a range of downloadable resources and other educational materials for service providers to help promote and build a strong and positive complaints culture.
Click on one of the links below to skip to a resource:
Management of dysphagia and mealtime supports are long-standing systemic issues. In response to the widespread presence of choking and aspiration pneumonia as causes of death in people with disability, the DSC convened a multi-agency roundtable ‘Influencing mealtime supports in disability services’ in June 2019.
The aim of the roundtable was to identify key issues and develop actions to ensure that people with disability who have swallowing difficulties receive appropriate assessments and mealtime supports.
The Safe Mealtimes poster is one outcome of the roundtable and is aimed at disability support workers who offer meal time assistance on a daily basis. The poster provides a simple stepped process on what to do to make mealtimes safe and enjoyable. For example:
always follow the person’s mealtime support plan
check that the person is alert and as upright as possible
make sure that small amounts of food are being offered
wait for food to clear from the person’s mouth before offering more
The poster also outlines what signs to look out for that may suggest there is an issue or problem – and who to contact for further or urgent support and assistance.
‘Everything you wanted to know about complaints…’ is a booklet that has been developed to provide advice and tips for service providers in preparing for, resolving and reviewing the handling of complaints about their services.
People’s right to speak up about what’s working, and not working, with their disability supports is important. This booklet is a useful reference to help your organisation to further enhance your approach to handling complaints and ensuring an environment exists where people feel that ‘It’s OK to complain!’
The following two checklists have been developed for use by service providers in reviewing their existing practices:
Good Practice Guide and Self-Audit Tool (second edition)
This ‘Good Practice Guide and Self-Audit Tool’ was developed to assist disability service providers to develop and review their complaints management process to ensure that it is responsive and accessible to people with a disability and forms part of a broader quality culture that sees complaints as an opportunity for service improvement.
The second edition of the ‘Good Practice Guide and Self-Audit Tool’ will assist your organisation to assess the extent to which your systems and culture promote an environment where people believe that ‘It’s OK to complain!’
Note – this Good Practice Guide was last revised in 2013. While some references are now outdated (e.g. parts of the Disability Act 2006 and references to Departmental guidelines), the general principles of the guide remain relevant.
‘Investigations: Guidance for Service Providers’ is a booklet that has been developed to provide guidance to disability service providers undertaking investigations of staff-to-client assaults and unexplained injuries. The aim is to promote practice that addresses both the experience of the person with a disability and the staff member subject to the allegation.
Download ‘Investigations: Guidance for Service Providers’ in PDF (289KB).
Encouraging people who access your services to give feedback or complain about the supports you provide not only empowers those individuals but also provides an opportunity to improve the overall quality of the services you provide.
The ‘Complaints Systems & Practice Self-Audit – Quick checklist’ is designed to give you a snapshot of the progress your organisation has made in developing a positive complaints culture. The checklist will also assist you to identify and prioritise areas of your complaints management system that you may want or need to develop further.
The checklist covers key components of Quality Framework Industry Standard 7 and the Disability Act 2006. This enables you to assess progress in legislative and regulatory compliance obligations and assist in preparations for the independent monitoring process that service providers are required to undertake.
The aim of the Complaints Culture Surveys is to identify, based on feedback from the people you support, their families, carers, advocates and staff at all levels of the organisation, the degree to which the message ‘It’s OK to Complain!’ applies to your organisation. The surveys will identify areas where you are doing well and areas where you could further improve.
It is important to note that each person who completes a complaints culture survey does so from their own perspective and that each perspective is legitimate based on their experience and perception of the organisation and its culture.
We strongly recommend that the surveys, which you may wish to copy on to your letterhead, be accompanied by a letter from management indicating your commitment to improving how the organisation responds to feedback and complaints and encouraging people to participate.
The staff survey is in two parts:
Questions 1-8 mirror the surveys for families/carers/advocates and service users (i.e. a focus on people’s perception of whether the organisation is OK about receiving and listening to complaints) and allows you to easily compare responses from each of the stakeholder groups.
Questions 9-18 focus on the quality management systems you have in place to support a positive complaints culture from a continuous improvement and human resources perspective.
Using the results
It is up to each organisation as to how the results of the surveys are collated and actioned. An approach we recommend would be to collate the responses on the basis of positive, neutral and negative responses and, in conjunction with representatives from each of the stakeholder groups, use the following questions (and any others you think relevant) to analyse the results:
Where have you done well and how can you build on this?
Where haven’t you done as well and how can this be addressed?
What inconsistencies exist in the feedback received from each stakeholder group and from different areas of the organisation?
How can the information be used to inform future planning and work required in this area (e.g. staff training, strategies for encouraging service users to express their views and opinions)?
How will you prioritise actions arising from the survey responses?
Once this process is completed, we recommend that consideration is given to how the results of the surveys, and any actions arising, will be communicated to each stakeholder group.
If your organisation is currently in a complaints resolution process or an investigation with DSC, you may also be interested in these information sheets.
Learning from complaints
Occasional papers 1 and 2 details learnings from DSC’s own experience of complaints and incidents. These papers offer advice on best practices, and can be accessed here.
Need in-person advice and training?
DSC can run in-house education and training sessions for disability service providers who feel like their staff need in-person education on handling complaints and identifying abuse and neglect. Click here to find out more.