Complaint Handling for Better Services

Complaints can bring many benefits to local authorities and organisations in the independent and charity sectors alike.  The views of service users can lead directly to improved practice, policy and procedure but there can be significant costs unless the process is properly managed.  The financial costs can be measured but it is difficult to assess the impact on the morale of both staff and service users. 


Course description

Our courses aim to improve complaint handling at all levels.  We draw on research and reports by the government, the ombudsman and others to provide a framework for effective complaint handling. Each course is built around a case study to enable managers to gain practical experience.


We offer courses in:

Responding to Complaints

A one-day course aiming to improve complaint handling at Stage One of the procedures when complaints are first presented to managers.  The course examines the complainant’s expectations as the focus for local resolution and emphasises the need to support staff through the procedure to promote a culture of learning from complaints.  The case study and other exercises highlight important points of complaint handling, with an emphasis on reducing costs to the authority and creating a satisfactory outcome. There is also a practical guide to correspondence.


Building Skills in Complaints Investigation

Complaint investigation is the cornerstone of the social services complaints procedure.  This course is aimed at managers who are required to carry out an in-depth investigation at Stage Two of the procedures. The course concentrates on a structured approach for the investigation using a case study and exercises to underline the need for careful planning and preparation. We also give detailed guidance on producing an investigation report.  The course is aimed at managers but it will also benefit Independent Investigators and Independent Persons taking part in Children Act complaints.


These training courses will pass on the skills developed through extensive practical experience of complaint resolution, investigation and reviews.  Our key aim is to help build the positive approach that is central to effective complaint handling. We have a wealth of experience in investigations, evaluation and analysis and have acted as consultants for local authorities and major children’s charities in England and Wales including investigations, panel chairing and training.



By the end of the course, participants should be able to:

  • Outline the stages of the social care complaints procedures
  • Describe the roles and relationships of those involved in the complaints investigation process
  • Conduct effective interviews with complainants and staff
  • Identify relevant sources of information
  • Carry out a structured evaluation process
  • Reach findings based on evidence
  • Recommend appropriate remedies

Details of bespoke courses and previous clients can be provided upon request.


Course Trainers

Peter Norris

Peter Norris has over fifteen years as an independent consultant, and complaints investigator, for local authorities’ social service (and other) departments and national children’s charities, working extensively in Wales and the West Country. Peter has provided training to a number of English and Welsh authorities and has enjoyed excellent feedback. Peter has chaired family proceedings courts for fifteen years, is a member or chair of a number of different panels and first-tier tribunals and chairs serious case reviews. He works extensively in the south and west of England and Wales, including as a chair of the Welsh Assembly’s Independent Complaints Secretariat.

Ursula Norris

Ursula has worked in child care for nearly 25 years. Graduating from Southampton, with post grad qualifications from the University of the West of England, she has been a probation officer, a social worker, senior practitioner and team manager. Latterly for nearly a decade she was a Unit Manager at a Secure Unit. Ursula has managed numerous complaints at all stages of the procedures.


Full course list

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