NDIS Complaints Management – What to Do & How Great Documentation Can Help
NDIS service providers do meaningful work supporting people living with disability, and typically go above and beyond to provide excellent standards of care. However, even the most diligent of providers may receive a client complaint at some point. Here, we talk you through the process of NDIS complaints management and provide some tips for developing your NDIS complaints management system – including how quality NDIS software can help meet your documentation requirements.
What should I do if I receive a complaint from an NDIS client?
While no disability services provider expects this situation, there are steps to take should an NDIS participant lodge a complaint about you. These are outlined in detail by the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission (NDISQSC), but here’s a handy summary to get you started.
The ‘Four A’s’ of successful complaint resolution
This helpful approach to responding to a complaint was developed by the Victorian Disability Services Commissioner. It recognises that people making complaints typically seek one of four outcomes, each beginning with the letter ‘A’.
This is often the most important step because it assures people their concerns have been understood and the impact on them recognised. Some tips for doing this effectively include:
actively listening without interrupting
monitoring yourself for feelings of defensiveness
acknowledging how the situation has affected the person
asking what a good outcome would look like for them, and
letting them know what steps you’ll take in response to their complaint.
Knowing why something has or hasn’t occurred often helps people better understand how to resolve their concerns. Your answers should provide clear explanations relevant to the concern while sticking to known facts.
Some people want action to address their concerns. You may not always be able to fix the situation, but you can implement solutions to prevent it from occurring again. A good way to approach this involves developing an action plan. This should include:
what will be done
who will do it
when it will be done by
how you will communicate progress and outcomes, and
how you will oversee progress of the complaint actions and implementation.
You might like to formulate the action plan with the person who made the complaint and any NDIS participants impacted. Ensure you follow up to make sure all parties are satisfied with the actions being completed.
An apology may be all, or part of, the outcome someone making a complaint is seeking. Offering an authentic and timely apology is a powerful way to validate someone’s concerns and move forward.
Think about who should make the apology, and how it should be delivered. Ideally, arrange for the person complained about and a more senior staff member to apologise. This assures the person making the complaint that they have been taken seriously.
Sincerity is crucial, as a poorly delivered apology can aggravate the situation. Other helpful things to consider include:
accepting responsibility for what happened and the affects it had
explaining any causes, without offering excuses, and
summarising the actions you’ve agreed to take in response.
What should I do after dealing with a complaint from an NDIS participant?
As the NDISQSC point out, NDIS complaints management doesn’t end when the issue is resolved. To help your staff and organisation learn from the experience – and keep your clients happy – it’s important to have systems that provide an opportunity to reflect on the complaints process and any outcomes.
Your NDIS complaints management system should include:
Following up with the person who made the complaint and asking for their feedback
Thinking through which service, policy or procedure was involved in the complaint and how you can improve on it
Considering the experience of the person who made the complaint and any affected NDIS participants, including how effectively you communicated with them and whether their concerns were resolved
Reviewing your complaints handling system, including whether your approach aligns with your stated values
Identifying opportunities for staff training or upskilling.
Can I do anything to prepare for an NDIS complaint?
It might seem counterintuitive to prepare for receiving an NDIS complaint, but in fact developing an NDIS complaints management policy can potentially head off problems before they occur. It’s a lot easier to take a proactive than a reactive approach to complaints.
If you’re an NDIS registered provider, you need to have a complaints management and resolution system as a condition of registration. Developing an appropriate and effective system is also good practice for all disability service providers and can form part of meeting the expectations required under the NDIS Code of Conduct. This should include training staff in how to respond to complaints.
Importantly, one of the guiding principles of the National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013 is that people with disability have the same right to pursue grievances as other members of Australian society. All NDIS providers are responsible for making sure they provide a safe and quality service to people living with disability. Feedback, including complaints from NDIS participants, helps you know whether this responsibility is being fulfilled and provides crucial information about how you can offer a better service.
Taking a positive attitude towards complaints, along with a commitment to resolve them in an appropriate, timely manner, will enhance client satisfaction and solidify your reputation as a quality provider. The way you respond is just as important as the outcome and can make or break your client-provider relationship. In fact, if you handle complaints well, you may find that complainants become your strongest advocates!
How software can help with NDIS complaints management and resolution
Another way to ensure your business is equipped for NDIS complaints management is investing in quality NDIS software. This gives you peace of mind that should the worst happen, you have easy access to all the documents needed for the complaints management process.
Here’s some ways NDIS software features can help:
Fast and timely recording of progress and shift notes. With ShiftCare’s mobile app, for example, support workers and carers can easily record progress notes at the end of each shift. This ensures you have up-to-date documentation to support complaints handling.
Rostering systems that keep a log of each shift, including details of who was working. Quality platforms enable admin teams to schedule shifts and assign them to support workers, facilitating easy and accurate reconciliation of any disputed shift details.
Recording of shift start and end times and making sure workers are at the right places. ShiftCare offers a clock on and off option directly via the carer’s app and geolocalises them to ensure they are at the right client's address. This feature helps eliminate any debate over who worked where during the shift in question.
Ensuring documents and certifications are up to date. With ShiftCare, you can upload and share important documents with your team, and everything is securely stored and accessible in the cloud. This means you can easily locate key documents, such as police or working with children checks, should they be required – without having to search through piles of paperwork!
If the complaint revolves around billing, you will need to ensure your NDIS shift invoices match up with the NDIS price guide code. ShiftCare reduces any risk of error by automatically allocating the right price directly in the app when you roster and select a shift type.