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Policy Statement

This policy is intended to comply with Regulation 16 of the Fundamental Standard Regulations.

The Trust accepts the rights of Clients to make complaints and to register comments and concerns about the services received. It further accepts that they should find it easy to do so. It welcomes complaints, seeing them as opportunities to learn, adapt, improve and provide better services.

This policy also applies to employees or other individuals who wish to make a complaint about the Trust.

You can expect to be treated with courtesy, respect and fairness at all times. We expect that you will also treat our staff dealing with your complaint with the same courtesy, respect and fairness.

The Policy

This policy is intended to ensure that complaints are dealt with properly and that all complaints or comments by Clients and their relatives, carers and advocates along with employees and other individuals are taken seriously. It is not designed to apportion blame, to consider the possibility of negligence or to provide compensation. It is not part of the Trust’s disciplinary policy. The Trust supports the idea that most complaints if dealt with early, openly and honestly can be sorted at a local level between the complainant and the Trust. 

The complaints procedure and an online complaints submission form are available on the Trust’s website: 

What is a complaint? 

A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction, whether justified or not. This policy covers complaints about: 

  • the standard of service you should reasonably expect from us 
  • the behaviour of our staff in delivering that service 
  • any action, or lack of action, by our staff or others engaged on Orchard Trust business

Aim of the Complaints Procedure

We aim to ensure that the complaints procedure is properly and effectively implemented and that individuals feel confident that their complaints and worries are listened to and acted upon promptly and fairly.

Specifically, we aim to ensure that:

  • Clients, carers and their representatives are aware of how to complain and that the Trust provides easy to use opportunities for them to register their complaints
  • Every written complaint is acknowledged within 14 days
  • The investigation process for all written complaints will begin within 28 days of the complaint being received
  • All written complaints are responded to within 56 days of being made
  • If we are unable to meet the above timescales we will notify you to provide an explanation and update 
  • Complaints are dealt with promptly, fairly and sensitively, with due regard to the upset and worry that they can cause to both the individuals and staff


Service Managers are responsible for following through complaints regarding their service. If the complaint is regarding the actions of a Service Manager or above, the complaint should be made to the CEO or Chair of Trustees who will appoint an appropriate individual to undertake the investigation.

The Trust reserves the right to appoint external investigators at any point in the process and for particularly serious or sensitive complaints

Complaints Procedure

To help resolve complaints quickly, as much clarity and detail as possible should be provided at the outset. This includes clearly stating that a complaint is being made and providing any documents and records of correspondence. If the Trust does not have all the details needed to deal with the complaint the complainant may be contacted for further information. The Trust will not respond to anonymous complaints but may review the contents of any anonymous complaint under another relevant policy and procedure. 

Verbal complaints

  • The Trust will take seriously all verbal complaints, even if they may seem unimportant
  • Front-line support staff who receive a verbal complaint are expected to seek to solve the problem immediately.
  • If they cannot solve the problem immediately, they should offer to involve their line manager to deal with the problem.
  • Staff are expected to remain courteous, respectful and fair to the complainant. The Trust expects that the complainant will treat staff dealing with the complaint with the same courtesy, respect and fairness.
  • If the complaint is being made on behalf of the Client by an advocate it must first be verified that the person has permission to speak for the Client, especially if confidential information is involved. It is easy to assume that the advocate has the right or power to act for the Client, when they may not. If in doubt it should be assumed that the Client’s explicit permission is needed prior to discussing the complaint with the advocate.
  • After discussing the problem, the Service Manager or member of staff dealing with the complaint will suggest a means of resolving it. 
  • If the suggested plan of action is not acceptable to the complainant, then the member of staff or manager will ask the complainant to put their complaint in writing to the Service Manager. The complainant should be advised they can access a copy of this complaints procedure on the Orchard Trust website.

Serious or Written Complaints

  • Preliminary steps:
  • When a written complaint is received, it will be passed to the relevant person to investigate, they will be known as the Investigating Officer.
  • An acknowledgment letter will be sent within 14 days to the complainant.
  • If necessary, further details will be obtained from the complainant or the person making the complaint on the clients behalf. 
  • If the complaint raises potentially serious matters, advice may be sought from a legal advisor. If legal action is taken at this stage, any investigation by the Trust under the complaints procedure ceases immediately.
  • The Investigating Officer will start an investigation within 28 days and should be in a position to provide a full explanation to the complainant, either in writing or by arranging a meeting with the individuals concerned, within 56 days.
  • If the issues are too complex for the investigation to be completed within 56 days the complainant will be informed of any delays.
  • Where the complaint cannot be resolved between the parties, an arbitration service will be used.  This service and its findings will be final to both parties.  The cost of this will be borne by the Trust.
  • Follow-up action:
  • A written account of the investigation, an apology if appropriate and an explanation of how things will be rectified will be sent to the complainant.  This letter will include details of how to approach the CQC or other relevant organisation if they are not satisfied with the outcome.
  • The outcomes of the investigation and the meeting are recorded in the Trust’s complaints records, and any shortcomings in Trust’s procedures will be identified and acted upon.
  • The Trust formally reviews all complaints at least every 12 months as part of its quality monitoring and improvement procedures to identify trends and  lessons learned.

Unreasonable/Vexatious complaints 

The Trust is committed to dealing with all complaints equitably, comprehensively, and in a timely manner and will not normally limit the contact which complainants have with staff. Sometimes, however, people pursuing complaints or other issues may treat staff and others in a way that is unacceptable and or behave in an unacceptable manner. Whilst the Trust recognises that some complaints may relate to serious and distressing incidents, the Trust will not accept threatening, inappropriate or harassing behaviour. An unreasonable complainant may be anyone who engages in unreasonable behaviour when making a complaint or interacting with staff regarding the complaint. This will include people who pursue complaints in an unreasonable manner and those who do not act in an appropriate manner towards our staff.

This includes: 

  • Actions which are: 
    • Out of proportion to the nature of the complaint
    • Persistent – even when the complaints procedure has been exhausted
    • Personally harassing
    • Unjustifiably repetitious
    • Obsessive, harassing, or prolific
  • Prolific correspondence or excessive email or telephone contact about a concern or complaint, or complaints 
  • Making inflammatory statements and unsubstantiated allegations
  • Repeatedly demanding disciplinary action be taken against staff
  • Recording meetings or telephone conversations without consent
  • Repetitious complaints where the complainant has no view about what would satisfy them and or no intention to resolve the complaint
  • Acting in a way not in line with the Trust’s aim of reaching a resolution and working effectively together
  • An insistence on
    • Pursuing unjustified or unmeritorious complaints, and or
    • Unrealistic outcomes to justified or unjustified complaints 
  • An insistence on
    • Pursuing justifiable complaints in an unreasonable manner e.g. using abusive or threatening language
    • Making complaints in public
    • Refusing to attend appointments to discuss the complaint 

The complainant will first be told that their language is considered offensive or their behaviour unacceptable, and will be asked to stop using such language or behaviour. Where complaints are deemed vexatious or the unacceptable behaviour does not stop the complainant will be notified in writing that no further correspondence will be entered into on the matter in question. If further contact is necessary, the complainant will be informed that it will be made through a Trustee or their nominated officers. 

A decision to restrict contact will be reconsidered if the complainant subsequently demonstrates more reasonable behaviour. 

If a complainant disagrees with a decision made by the Trust to regard their behaviour as unreasonable, they can challenge it. All incidents of harassment or aggression will be documented and referred to senior staff. In appropriate circumstances these matters may be referred to the police and the Trust may consider taking appropriate legal action against the complainant, if necessary, without prior warning.

Recording complaints

Complaint details, outcomes and actions taken are recorded by the Trust and used for service improvement. The Trust records all complaints received and collates data from them to help understand what types of problems are most prevalent, and how well they are being resolved. Personal information will be handled so that it is processed and retained appropriately and legally, in line with data protection legislation. 

If you are still dissatisfied 

If having followed our complaints procedure you remain dissatisfied, you can ask to have your complaint reviewed by one of the following external bodies:

For Residential care, Supported Living or Day Service provision:

Any Client part or wholly funded by their Local Authority, or through Continuing Health Care (CHC) can complain directly to the complaints manager (Adults) who is employed directly via the Local Authority. 

The link below can be used to find the relevant contact details:


Out of Hours Service (Social Services)

This service is available when social services offices are closed

01452 426868


The Local Government Ombudsman

Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

PO Box 4771



Tel: 0300 061 0614 




The Care Quality Commission



Newcastle upon Tyne


Tel. 03000 616161


For Fundraising:

Fundraising Regulator

CAN Mezzanine

2nd Floor, 49 – 51 East Road

London N1 6AH

Tel: 0300 999 3413


For Data Breaches:

Information Commissioner’s Office

Tel: ICO helpline 0303 123 1113



Review of this policy

Any changes we make to this policy in the future will be posted on this website so please check this page regularly. We keep this policy under regular review. This policy was last updated 30th March 2023.