Complaints Procedure

The following is a summarised version of our complaints procedure. Download the full version of the NDS Complaints Procedure.


If a complaint is made of any service which involves the charity’s staff/members, then we have a proper procedure to deal with the complaint positively, swiftly and efficiently.

This procedure assumes the following principles:

  • Deaf people are full members of society. They have equal rights, should be afforded equal respect and must be able to exercise equal opportunities.
  • Deaf people have a right to the language and mode of communication of their choice.
  • Deaf people have a right to equality of access to information and full participation in society.
  • In providing services, full account must be taken of deaf people and other consumers, their experiences, their value, their rights and opinions.
  • Operation of the Complaints Procedure should incorporate the complainant and staff members’ language and mode of communication of their choice.
  • Operation of the Complaints procedure should at all times maintain the dignity of the complainant and the NDS staff/members involved.

In addition the Complaints Procedure needs to be:

  • Seen as “fair” and consistent by those using them and the NDS staff/members operating them.
  • Based on “openness”.
  • Based on service users/carers’ rights.
  • Attempting to make information of NDS services accessible to users in an appropriate form.

Objectives of the complaints procedure

  • To provide a simple to understand appropriate and effective means of allowing service users or their representatives to complain about the quality or nature of services provided.
  • Ensure that complaints are acted on, the complainant receiving a response which is understanding, swift and fair.
  • Aim to resolve complaints quickly and as close to the point of service delivery as possible.
  • Give those denied a service an accepted means of challenging the decision.
  • Provide in, certain circumstances, for the formal review of a complaint.
  • Give managers an additional means of monitoring performance and the extent to which service objectives are being achieved.

What this procedure covers

Complaints may be about the nature of any service provided by, or on behalf of the NDS in particular:

  • lack of service/refusal of service.
  • delay in receiving service.
  • quality of service provided.
  • conduct, attitude or competence of any NDS staff, member or authorised agent.

Complaints may be received from any service user, their carer, representative, advocate, including organisations acting on behalf of the service user, or any other person affected by the Society’s actions towards the service user.

What this procedure does not cover

  • It is not about staff grievance or diciplinary procedures.
  • It is not about matters relating to sexual or racial discrimination which are subject to court or tribunal action but such matters may arise initially in the form of a complaint.
  • It does not cover matters referred to a local Ombudsman, (commissioner for local administration) but such a complaint may have already gone through this procedure. Such a situation may arise when the NDS is providing services on behalf of a local authority e.g. provision of equipment, interpreting.
  • It does not cover legal action by service users for negligence or redress.
  • It does not cover complaints about services which are not directly provided by NDS.

Disciplinary Issues

Situations may arise where a complaint is closely related to a disciplinary matter and in such circumstances the member of staff dealing with the complaint must exercise great care in separating out the different elements. An initial complaint should be dealt with and any associated disciplinary matter be dealt with separately according to NDS disciplinary procedures.

Actions of NDS Staff in Handling of Complaints

The principles and objectives outlined above should underpin the actions of the staff of the NDS in recognising when a complaint is being made and subsequently dealing with it.

Staff should:

  • Know how to recognise and deal with a complaint.
  • Make an offer to discuss the matter openly.
  • Not expect it to be in writing.
  • Assist the complainant in expressing their views if necessary.
  • Make a written record of every complaint at every stage. This should also be made even if the complaint is made using a different medium e.g. signed video.
  • Deal with the complaint as quickly and as close to the point of service delivery as possible.
  • Understand this procedure and advise complainants of the action being taken at each stage and advise them of their rights accordingly.
  • Ensure that complaints of alleged action of a specific staff member are investigated by a different member of staff.

Summary of Complaints Procedure

The following is a summary of the complaints procedure:

Stage 1 – Informal Complaints/Query/Problem

  • Resolved by the staff member providing service or their line manager in 21 days
  • If unresolved it will go to Stage 2

Stage 2 – Formal Complaint

  • Investigated by the Chief Executive Officer and resolved in 28 days
  • If unresolved the complaint will be go to Stage 3

Stage 3 – Complaint Reviewed by a Director

  • The complaints is reviewed by the chairperson of the board of Directors or another Directors of NDS and will be resolved in 28 days.
  • Should the complaint not be resolved it will be referred to Stage 4

Stage 4 – Complaints Review Panel

  • A review of the complaint by a panel made up of Chair of Board of Directors Chair of Social Club and another Member of Board of Directors

At all times the person making the complaint has the right to ask other organisations to investigate their complaint.