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The policy’s purpose is to ensure that all staff, and other interested parties of Quetzal services are aware of the Complaints Policy and procedure to be followed to ensure:

  • Effective, early and where possible, positive resolution of complaints with an apology where appropriate
  • Complaints are thoroughly and properly investigated
  • Complainants are treated with dignity, respect and courtesy, provided with assistance and advice to make a complaint, and, receive a timely and appropriate response
  • Compliance with regulatory and commissioning requirements
  • Organisational learning from complaints through analysis
  • Management of all complaints in an open and transparent manner

This policy deals only with formal complaints. All other feedback or suggestions are dealt with under the ‘Praise or Grumble’ policy.

Complaints made by staff relating to employment matters will not be dealt with under this procedure.


All staff for recording initial complaints

Administrative Officer for preparation of performance management information.

The organisation commits to:

All staff will ensure that they are aware of the Complaints Scheme. All staff will be made aware of the complaints scheme as part of their induction programme.

All clients will receive Complaints Scheme information when they begin receiving support, and this will be recorded by the counsellors or the clinical receptionist.

Making a Complaint

Complainants must not be discriminated against or victimised where complaints are made.

Complaints can be made in a variety of ways:

  • In writing via letter, or complaints form to:

The Service Manager, Quetzal, 12-14 Talbot Street, Leicester, LE1 4LR

  • Anonymously

If a complainant prefers, a complaint can be made verbally/in person to any member of staff.

Complaints may be refused or terminated in the following circumstances:

  • Where the same complaint has previously been investigated by Quetzal and been closed
  • Where the complainant has made persistent or unreasonable demands
  • Where the complainant displays vexatious behaviour
  • Where the complaint relates to a matter that occurred more than 12 months ago, unless the complainant had good reasons for not making the complaint within the time period

Reasons for refusing or terminating a complaint should always be recorded and the complainant informed in writing by the service manager.

Support & Advocacy

Some complainants may need support to register a complaint and staff should provide appropriate assistance or signpost to suitable, non-chargeable advocacy services if required. Quetzal accepts complaints made by advocates on behalf of a complainant where they have signed a consent form.

Where a third party will be involved on behalf of a complainant, staff should assist the complainant to complete a signed consent form to enable Quetzal to respond appropriately.

Logging and Acknowledging Complaints- (within 3 working days)

All complaints must be logged onto the spreadsheet immediately by the member of staff receiving the complaint as a Level 1 and an Investigating Officer selected. The Investigating Officer will be allocated by the service manager.

The administration officer will acknowledge the complaint in writing within 3 working days of receipt of the complaint using the Quetzal acknowledgement letter template and save a copy on the company drive. This letter will include their contact details of the Investigating Officer, a summary of the actual complaint as recorded on the spreadsheet and stating a 20-working day response time for investigating the complaint.

‘Thorough’ Investigation of Complaints-(within 20 working days of Complaint)

The Investigating Officer should contact the complainant within 5 working days of receipt of the complaint to tell them how they intend to carry out their investigation and make arrangements to meet/speak with the complainant if necessary and determining/reflecting any communication preferences.

The Investigating Officer should clarify the complaint with the complainant to make planning the investigation easier – be clear about what is within your remit to investigate.

The ‘thorough’ investigation must be objective, impartial, and, findings must be reasoned, understandable and evidenced to demonstrate a responsive and well led service.

The ‘thorough’ investigation should consider:

  • What has happened
  • What should have happened
  • What is the difference between the two?
  • What lessons have been learned and what needs to change

The Investigating Officer should document their ‘thorough’ investigation in a complaints log, including people interviewed, records examined and conclusions reached. Copies of all correspondence should be retained electronically.

The Investigating Officer should complete their ‘thorough’ investigation within 20 working days of receipt of the complaint and enter the details on the spreadsheet in the Investigation tab recording actions taken to date and future actions required with timescales and responsible officers identified and notified.

All complaints must be concluded within 20 working days except in exceptional circumstances which must be with the agreement of the complainant. An explanation of the circumstances and date/details of the complainant’s agreement must be recorded on the spreadsheet.

In these exceptional circumstances, the Investigating Officer must contact the complainant to agree an extension of a further 10 working days to complete the investigation. The Investigating Officer should send the holding letter template to the complainant and insert the holding letter date on the ‘investigation tab’ which will update the response required date on the spreadsheet

Where the Investigating Officer determines that a complaint should be refused or terminated, they should document the reasons and write to the complainant explaining the decision.

When the ‘thorough’ investigation is complete, the outcome must always be communicated to the complainant in writing using the final response letter template and a copy saved electronically.  Before this letter is sent, the Investigating Officer must:

  • Have the letter approved by the service manager
  • Ensure that the reasons to support the conclusion are included in the letter
  • What steps the complainant can take if they are unhappy with the outcome of the complaint which must include the right to contact the appropriate Ombudsman or commissioning authority

If the complainant has indicated other communication preferences the outcome must also be communicated in accordance with these.

In line with regulatory and contractual requirements, following completion of a ‘thorough’ investigation, no further investigations should be undertaken.

If at any stage of the ‘thorough’ investigation, a complainant does not respond to requests for information or fails to co-operate, the Investigating Officer should write to the complainant advising that the complaint will be closed within 5 working days and recorded as unwarranted.

Request for Review

If the complainant advises within 20 working days of the Level 1 final response letter that they would like a senior manager to review the ‘thorough’ investigation, the complaint should be recorded as a Level 2 for review by the service manager

The administrative officer will acknowledge the review in writing within 3 working days of receipt of the request using the acknowledgement letter template. This letter will include the contact details of the service Manager and stating a 20-working day response time for reviewing the complaint.

The service manager should use the system to review the ‘thorough’ investigation, consider any new information, record progress and contact the complainant within 5 days of the escalation. The service manager is responsible for ensuring that a holding letter (if appropriate) and final decision letter are sent within timescales above and electronic copies stored.

Further Advice

In the event that the complainant is not satisfied once the ‘thorough’ investigation has been concluded, with the outcome of a requested review or they wish to seek further advice at any time, they are able to refer matters as appropriate to:

  • Relevant Grant or Funder commissioning the service


The administration Officer is responsible for producing the following reports and statistics on the number and type of complaints: –

Board Report: will scrutinise quarterly statistics of the complaints received in the quarter, year to date figures, analysis of trends and service improvements with a view to improve performance.

Service Manager: a quarterly report detailing all complaints raised or closed during the relevant quarter. The Service Manager will review the report and discuss as appropriate at team meetings.


The Quetzal annual report will include an analysis on complaints received, trends and action taken to improve services.

Supporting Documentation

  • Praise & Grumble Policy
  • COM1 Complaint Acknowledgement letter template
  • COM2 Complaint holding letter template
  • COM3 Complaint final response letter template
  • COM4 Complaint acknowledgement letter template level 2
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