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Make a complaint
Social work complaints
We value complaints and use information from them to help us improve our services.
What is a complaint
We regard a complaint as an expression of dissatisfaction about our action or lack of action, or, about the standard of service provided.
You can complaint about things like:
- failure or refusal to provide a service
- inadequate quality or standard of service
- dissatisfaction with one of our policies or its impact on the individual
- failure to properly apply law, procedure or guidance when delivering services
- failure of administrative processes
- delays in service provision
- treatment by or attitude of a member of staff
- disagreement with a decision made in relation to social work services
What can't I complain about?
There are some things we can't deal with through our complaints handling procedure. These include:
- a routine first time request for a service
- a claim for compensation only
- a disagreement with decisions or conditions that are based on social work recommendations, but determined by a court or other statutory body, for example decisions made by a children's panel, parole board or mental health tribunal
- an attempt to reopen a previously concluded complaint or to have a complaint reconsidered where we have already given our final decision
If other procedures or rights of appeal can help you resolve your concerns, we will give information and advice to help you.
We are committed to making our service easy to use for all members of the community. In line with our statutory equalities duties, we will always ensure that reasonable adjustments are made to help individuals access and use our services.
Who can complain?
Anyone can make a complaint to us, including the representative of someone who is dissatisfied with our service. Please also read the section 'getting help to make your complaint'.
How do I complain?
It is usually easier for us to resolve complaints if you make them quickly and directly to the service concerned. So please talk to a member of our staff at the service you are complaining about and they will try to resolve any problems
You can complain:
- in person
- by phoning your local health and social care locality office
- by email at email@example.com
- completing the form attached to this leaflet
When complaining, tell us:
- your full name and address
- as much as you can about the complaint
- what has gone wrong
- how you want us to resolve the matter
How long do I have to make a complaint?
Normally you must make your complaint within six months of:
- the event you want to complain about, or
- finding out that you have a reason to complain, but no longer than 12 months after the event itself
In exceptional circumstances, we may be able to accept a complaint after the time limit. If you feel that the time limit should not apply to your complaint, please tell us why.
How long will this take?
We want to resolve complaints as quickly as possible, and staff in our services will try to do this informally and speedily when you first make your complaint. However, if you feel that your complaint has not been resolved satisfactorily, you can take it to Stage 2, the investigation stage of our complaints handling process. Staff will give you more advice about who you should contact.
What happens when I have complained?
We will always tell you who is dealing with your complaint.
Our complaints procedure has two stages:
Stage one: frontline resolution
We aim to resolve complaints quickly and close to where we provided the service. This could mean an on the spot apology and explanation if something has clearly gone wrong, and immediate action to resolve the problem.
We will give you our decision at stage one in five working days or less unless there are exceptional circumstances. If we need extra time to investigate, we will tell you what is happening, and keep you informed about our progress.
If we can't resolve your complaint at this stage, we will explain why and tell you what you can do next. We might suggest that you take your complaint to stage two. You may choose to do this immediately or sometime after you get our initial decision.
Stage two: investigation
Stage two deals with two types of complaint: those that have not been resolved at stage one and those that are complex and require detailed investigation.
When using stage two we will:
- acknowledge receipt of your complaint with three working days
- give you a full response to the complaint as soon as possible and within 20 working days
We may need to discuss your complaint with you to understand why you remain dissatisfied and what outcome you are looking for. If our investigation will take longer than 20 working days, we will tell you. We will agree revised time limits with you and keep you updated on the progress.
What if I'm still dissatisfied?
After we have fully investigated, if you are still dissatisfied with our decision or the way we dealt with your complaint, you can ask the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) to look at it. We will tell you how to do this when we send you our final decision.
If your complaint is about a service we provide, such as a care home, home support service, children's house, day service or another regulated service you can request the Inspectorate to investigate the complaint on your behalf.
The Care Inspectorate has several offices around Scotland and can be contacted by:
Tel: 0845 600 9527
Fax: 01382 207 289
Getting help to make your complaint
We understand that you may be unable, or reluctant, to make a complaint yourself. We accept complaints from the representatives of a person who is dissatisfied with our service. We can take complaints from a friend, relative, or an advocate, if you have given them your consent to complain for you.
You can find out about advocates in your area by contacting the Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance.
Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance
Tel: 0131 260 5380
Fax: 0131 260 5381
If you have a complaint about North Lanarkshire Council, but it's not about social work, please use the corporate complaints handling process, as detailed online at