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1.0 Complaints/Feedback Process

Applicable to: All service agencies that receive funding under the Services and Supports to Promote the Social Inclusion of Persons with Developmental Disabilities Act, 2008 from the Ministry of Community and Social Services to provide adult developmental services and supports. 

This policy directive does not apply to Developmental Services Ontario organizations.  Requirements for a feedback process are outlined in the Policy Directives for Application Entities.

Legislative Authority: Section 7(1) 1

Effective Date: June 1, 2012

Introduction

A complaints/feedback process is an important part of providing quality support that is responsive to people’s needs and that supports continuous improvement in service delivery.  The information received through a complaints/feedback process can assist an organization to take steps to better support individuals and/or improve administrative practices.

Definitions:

“Feedback” may be positive or negative (including complaints) and is related to the services and/or supports that are provided by a service agency.  Feedback may be solicited (such as information and comments collected through a satisfaction survey or a comment box) or unsolicited (such as a letter from a person or family member about the services and supports that the agency provides).  Feedback may be formal (like the survey or letter noted above) or informal (such as a verbal complaint expressed to a staff person).

“Complaint” is an expression of dissatisfaction related to the services and/or supports that are provided by a service agency.  A complaint may be expressed by a person with a developmental disability who is receiving services and supports from the service agency, or a person acting on their behalf, or by the general public, regarding the services and supports that are provided by the service agency.  A complaint may be made formally (such as a letter written to the agency) or informally (such as a verbal complaint expressed to a staff person).  A complaint does not include feedback on matters unrelated to the agency and the services and supports that it provides.

Purpose

The purpose of the policy directive is to set out the requirements for service agencies to develop written policies and procedures for a process to receive and address complaints and other feedback about the services and supports that they provide.

The ministry recognizes that service agencies may already have a complaints and/or feedback process in place.  An agency’s complaints/feedback process is separate and apart from other means to express concern, either at the local level, or more broadly, such as the Ombudsman of Ontario or the Human Rights Commission. 

The policies and procedures developed by service agencies must include a process to elicit feedback and to resolve and respond to complaints regarding the agency and the services and supports it provides, from individuals with a developmental disability, persons acting on their behalf, and the general public.

Policy

A complaints/feedback process should be readily available and easily understandable to those who wish to submit a complaint or provide feedback, and set out the way in which the service agency will provide a response to the complaint/feedback in a timely manner. 

A review of the complaints/feedback received in a complaints/feedback process can assist an agency in identifying issues and mitigating a risk to the organization where it may fail to meet expectations of the public, other clients, ministries or other stakeholders.

Note that service agencies must also comply with the requirements for a feedback process that are set out in the Accessibility Standards for Customer Services, Ontario Regulation 429/07, made under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005. 

Directive

A service agency shall have written policies and procedures regarding the process for receiving and addressing feedback and complaints about the services and supports that it provides that may be received from:

  • An individual with a developmental disability who receives services and supports from the service agency;
  • A person acting on behalf of the individual with a developmental disability who receives services and supports from the service agency; and
  • The general public.

A service agency must provide information in plain language on the complaints/feedback process to all individuals with a developmental disability who come in to service with the agency, and/or a person acting on their behalf (where applicable).

A service agency must provide a copy of its written policies and procedures to any person who requests it. 

The policies and procedures shall account for differing ways that complaints/feedback may be received (e.g., complaints/feedback submitted in writing, or provided verbally to an agency representative).

  • The policies and procedures shall identify:
  • How the service agency receives and documents complaints/feedback;
  • The process for investigating the matter (if applicable) that must be free of conflict of interest;
  • Expected time period for the complaints/feedback processes (i.e., for each step of the process);
  • The process for responding to complaints/feedback;
  • The roles and responsibilities of persons who may be involved in receiving complaints/feedback, documenting, investigating, resolving and providing notification or confirmation with the individual who submitted the complaint/feedback;
  • Consideration for the role and any responsibilities of persons who receive support from the service agency, in the complaints/feedback processes;
  • The role and responsibilities of the Board of Directors in the complaints/feedback processes;
  • How to avoid conflict of interest that may arise between the person who makes the complaint or provides feedback, and those who may be involved in the review, documentation, investigation, resolution and notification/confirmation; and
  • How to ensure that the review process is free of any coercion or intimidation or bias, either before, during, or after the review. 

The service agency shall receive, document, and review all feedback, and receive, document, review, and attempt to resolve all complaints.  Wherever possible, the service agency shall make reasonable efforts to resolve or address the matter to the mutual satisfaction of both the person who has made the complaint and the service agency. 

A service agency shall take all complaints seriously, and review and investigate all matters.  A service agency is not, however, expected to attempt to resolve complaints that it may determine to be frivolous or vexatious.

A service agency shall ensure that a person who submits a complaint or provides feedback is not at risk of having his/her services and supports negatively impacted or withdrawn, as a consequence of submitting the complaint/feedback.

The service agency’s policies and procedures on the complaints and feedback process shall comply with reporting requirements set out in the Services and Supports to Promote the Social Inclusion of Persons with Developmental Disabilities Act, 2008 and its regulations.  Where necessary, a service agency shall ensure that a complaint/feedback is:

  • Reported to the police (i.e., as in the case of alleged, suspected or witnessed abuse that may constitute a criminal offence, as required by Ontario Regulation 299/10 regarding quality assurance measures made under the Services and Supports to Promote the Social Inclusion of Persons with Developmental Disabilities Act, 2008); and/or

  • Reported to the ministry as a serious occurrence through the ministry’s serious occurrence reporting process (based on the nature of the complaint/feedback).

In order to promote continuous quality improvement, a service agency shall conduct a review and analysis of the complaints and feedback received to evaluate the effectiveness of its policies and procedures, on an annual basis.  A service agency shall also conduct a review and analysis of the complaints and feedback received to consider the need to revise any other policies and procedures that the agency may have in place.

A service agency shall share information about its complaints/feedback process, and/or about complaints/feedback, as part of the ministry’s risk assessment process, upon request by the ministry.