Quality and Safeguarding- The Complaints Management and Resolution Rules

This week, as part of our ongoing series exploring the Quality and Safeguarding Framework, we look at the National Disability Insurance Scheme (Complaints Management and Resolution) Rules 2018. These are the Rules that set the standard for handling complaints internally within organisations, as well as detailing the Commission’s internal processes for managing the complaints they receive about providers. For your own protection, and most importantly for the safety of Participants, it is absolutely essential that all staff in your organisation are across these Rules.

The Rules apply to all registered providers and any NDIS Participant has the right to make a complaint to the Commissioner. Luckily for them, the Commission will not be dealing with complaints about the NDIA. These will still be required to go through the NDIA’s internal complaints process. But I imagine they will have to redirect quite a few calls that way!

The Rules are based on the Quality and Safeguarding Framework. The Commission has also released two draft guidelines to help people understand how the complaints process works:

Effective complaint handling guidelines for NDIS providers

Complaints management and resolution guidance

 

So, what is it all about?

The Commissioner’s role is to, where possible, support the resolution of complaints between providers and Participants. They will handle complaints about:

  • Whether services or supports have been provided in a safe and respectful manner, and;
  • Whether services and supports have been delivered to an appropriate standard.

They will also look into:

  • How providers handle complaints, and;
  • How providers treat the advocates and carers of Participants.

All registered NDIS providers will be required to have complaints management arrangements in place. They will also be expected to support people with disability to understand how they can make complaints.

The new Rules will commence in July 2018. However, until full NDIS rollout, they are subject to transitional arrangements in each State and Territories.

 

How will this work?

Where it is possible, the Commission will first seek to achieve an early resolution to the complaint by working with the Participant and the provider to reach an agreement and make recommendations. In circumstances where the Commission identifies serious risks to Participants or wants to avoid disclosing unlawful conduct they have the power to trigger a formal investigation.

Anyone who is unhappy with the NDIS Commission’s service can raise their concerns with the Commonwealth Ombudsman.

 

What can providers do?

Now is a great time to review you existing complaints handling processes. You will need to check how you are documenting complaints, what your response times are, and what your resolutions process looks like. 

Remember, effective an complaints handling process fosters a culture of continuous improvement within your organisation. As the Commission’s own Effective Complaints Handling Guidelines for Service Providers say: “Complaints are also one of the best ways to identify problems with service delivery and how they can be fixed. Fostering an organisational culture that values and learns from complaints is one of the most important ways NDIS providers can meet people’s needs and continuously improve their services, whether or not they are registered.”

You can read the rest of our articles on the Quality and Safeguarding Framework here.