Complaints from service users and other external individuals

This policy is primarily for women (please see our Mission Statement for our definition) receiving support or other services from SASC (i.e., service users), but can also include other external individuals such as community contacts or contract workers.

Sharing our complaint policy with service users

Any women receiving in-person services, such as individual and/or group counselling or advocacy, will be provided our Complaints Policy, early on in her contact with SASC. The options outlined here are meant to simplify the language in our Complaints Policy. A copy of our Complaints Policy will also be available at the Centre. Since we cannot assume equal access to written English, the support worker providing the Policy will explain it. The reason for handing out this information is to give the women as much control, information and power as possible to speak out, to take part in our survivor directed approach to service provision.  In turn, SASC will also have an opportunity (through any feedback received), to make changes, when needed, to the support work we provide, as well as other aspects of the organization.

Sharing our Complaint Policy with external individuals

All SASC Staff, Volunteers, and Directors are encouraged whenever it seems appropriate to share our complaint procedures and options with any external individual who may not necessarily have access to the sheet of paper that explains it in writing — for example any women receiving services primarily over the phone, community contacts, or any other external individual who hints that they may have a complaint, suggestion or feedback. The reason for this is to increase our accountability to the women we serve and to our community.

How do I make a complaint?

Option 1

Anonymous complaint in the Suggestion Box: Any individual may make a written and anonymous complaint, suggestion or feedback by placing it in the Suggestion Box provided in the waiting room. 

 

Option 2

Anonymous phone complaint: Any external individual may make an anonymous complaint to any Staff or Volunteer on the phone. The Staff or Volunteer will explain to the women that they will write the complaint down to the best of their ability and will share it with the Direct Services Coordinator, who will take any needed action to address such complaint. Anonymous Complaints in this context are helpful for external individuals who are comfortable with speaking to a person on the phone about their complaint, but may not yet be ready to identify themselves. The complaint made in this manner will be dealt with as a learning piece for Volunteers and Staff. 

 

Option 3

Complaint in writing or audio recorded: An external individual may put a complaint in writing or via audio recording with a first name (does not have to be their real name) and some way of contacting them, such as a daytime phone number. The Volunteer or Staff member who receives it will get back to them to ask if they mind being contacted for further clarification or questions, and for telling them the outcome. If they do not wish to be contacted, the complaint will be dealt with as a learning piece for volunteers and staff. If they do wish to be contacted, they can make a mutually-agreeable arrangement to be contacted for clarification, questions or to hear about the outcome of their complaint. 

 

Option 4

Verbal complaint: An external individual may make a verbal complaint either over the phone or in-person. The Staff or Volunteer member who hears it will write it down, inform the women that it will be put in writing, and offer to read it back to them if necessary to clarify it. They will inform the women that it will be referred to the Direct Services Coordinator for appropriate steps to be taken. The Staff or Volunteer member will ask for a first name (doesn’t have to be her real one) and a daytime phone number. They will be asked if they mind being contacted for further clarification or questions, and for telling them the outcome. If they do not wish to be contacted, the complaint will be dealt with as a learning piece for volunteers and staff. If they do wish to be contacted, they can make a mutually-agreeable arrangement to be contacted for clarification, questions or to hear about the outcome of their complaint. 

 

Option 5

Full in-person complaint procedure: An external individual may request to deliver and process their complaint in- person. They will be referred to the Direct Services Coordinator to make their complaint. The Volunteer or Staff member who are directly involved in the complaint may be present or not present at the initial delivery, as the complainant chooses. This option is open to women only. The volunteer or Staff member who receives this request will take a first name, daytime phone number, the names of SASC Staff or Volunteers in question, a summary of what the complaint is about, what location(s) for a meeting would be OK with the complainant, how many advocates they would like to bring, and a couple of convenient dates and times. The Volunteer or Staff member will take the request to the Direct Services Coordinator, who will take the appropriate steps.

 

In any of the above scenarios, if the complaint is about the Direct Services Coordinator, the complaint will be brought to the attention of the Executive Director, who will take the appropriate action, including (as a last resort), bringing the matter to the attention of the Board of Directors.

 

SASC policy and practice contains overarching feminist principles of anti-oppression, anti-violence, anti-racism and we would encourage external individuals to use the power inherent in the feminist framework to address problems with their service providers (Staff and Volunteers) prior to using either of the options outlined herein. The intention is for issues to be discussed and resolved in a mutually receptive environment at the same time as providing options in the event that issues are not able to be resolved through dialogue with the Staff or Volunteer involved.