This chapter provides information for multi-agency practitioners about the process for adults or carers who wish to make a complaint about their experience of the safeguarding process, or appeal a decision that was made during the process.


Resolving Professional Disagreements

1. Introduction

Being involved in a safeguarding process is a difficult experience for any adult who has experienced neglect or abuse, and the people who care for them.

Practitioners should make every effort to ensure that adults and their carers are fully consulted and involved in the safeguarding process, kept informed of the progress of any investigation and are at the centre of work to ensure their safety and wellbeing (see Making Safeguarding Personal).

However, there will be occasions when an adult, or their carer, wishes to make a complaint about their experience or the outcome of the safeguarding process.

Where the adult or carer wishes to make a complaint about an individual organisation, they should be directed to the organisation’s complaints procedure.

For professionals who wish to complain about an aspect of the process, please see Resolving Professional Disagreements.

At any stage of the complaints process, the adult or carer may bring an advocate or friend to support them. An independent advocate can make a complaint on behalf of an adult (see Independent Advocacy). Some adults or carers may require interpreting or communication services (see Interpreting, Signing and Communication Needs).

The local authority should ensure people are given information and advice about the complaints process, that they are supported throughout and kept fully informed in writing of progress and the outcome.

2. Grounds for Complaint or Appeal

The adult who is experiencing, or at risk of, abuse or neglect (or an advocate on their behalf) or their carer, has grounds for making a complaint if they are unhappy with the manner in which they feel they have been treated during the safeguarding process.

They also have grounds for an appeal if they are not satisfied with decisions made during the safeguarding assessment, the case conference, or in relation to the safeguarding plan.

3. Step 1: Early Resolution

The adult or their carer who wishes to make a complaint should first speak to a practitioner involved in the safeguarding process. This may be a social worker or health professional.

If they are not satisfied with the discussion at this level, the practitioner should ask them if they would like to speak to their line manager or the organisation’s safeguarding adult lead. The manager should discuss the situation with the adult / carer, and try to resolve the situation informally. This may be by explaining processes to them and the rationale for the decisions made or actions taken or taking action to remedy an aspect of the process. The adult / carer should be reassured that their concerns are taken seriously.

If the complaint is straightforward, it may be resolved at this stage.

The practitioner / manager should record a summary of all discussion/s which take place and the outcome (see Record Keeping).

4. Step 2: Complaints Resolution

Complaints received from any source about safeguarding adults practice or arising from the safeguarding adults process, should be handled by the relevant complaints procedures of the organisation about which the complaint has been made.

5. Further Challenge

An adult or carer (or advocate) who remains dissatisfied with the outcome of the complaints / appeals process should either seek legal advice or contact the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman as to what further action/s are available to them.