When a complaint has been made about you to the Advocacy Service

Receiving a complaint

We understand that it is unsettling to be on the receiving end of a complaint. However, managed well, complaints can help us to learn from mistakes, identify gaps in services, and restore trust and mend relationships.

It is important that complaints are responded to promptly and fully, to allow both parties to move forward. The Advocacy Service process offers an opportunity for early and effective resolution between the parties to take place.

Resolution between the parties

When a complaint has been made directly to the Advocacy Service about your service, this usually provides you with the opportunity to write or speak directly to the complainant to resolve his or her concerns. The advocate’s role is to assist the consumer to clarify his or her issues and expectations so that you can respond honestly and directly to the complaint. Often the complaint can then be resolved quickly and successfully. (Please note, however, that in some cases an advocate may consider that it would be more appropriate for HDC to manage the complaint.) The process is set out here.

The Advocacy Service has a resolution rate that is consistently between 90–94% (this includes withdrawn complaints). This high resolution rate is a reflection of the skill of advocates, and the belief and commitment of all parties that the advocacy process will allow people to move forward.

In addition, satisfaction rates with the Advocacy Service process are extremely high for both consumers and providers (in 2016/17, 88% of consumers and 86% of providers who responded to satisfaction surveys said that they were satisfied or very satisfied with their contact with the Advocacy Service).

Although the Advocacy Service operates independently of HDC, when a complaint has been referred to the Advocacy Service by HDC, then the advocate is required to formally report back to HDC on the resolution process. In some limited circumstances, where a provider does not engage in the process or resolution cannot be reached, a complaint may be referred on to HDC from the Advocacy Service.

Value of complaints

Consumers making complaints and providing comments about their experience is an important way of improving the quality of services. Most consumers who make a complaint say that they do not want what happened to them to happen to someone else. Consumers usually find it helpful to have an acknowledgement of what happened, as well as an explanation and an apology.

Most providers find it helpful to know about a consumer's concern so that they can take action to sort it out. Sometimes this can lead to changes in practice and in the way services are provided that will benefit other consumers.

Who can complain about you to the Advocacy Service?

Anyone can make a complaint to the Advocacy Service about services you have provided to a consumer if you are a health or disability services provider. However, usually advocates will support only a consumer of your service, or the consumer's legal representative, in resolving a complaint.

Contact the Advocacy Service

Freephone: 0800 555 050

Email: advocacy@advocacy.org.nz