Successfully Resolving Verbal Complaints

One of the key skill sets for any staff working in complaints handling is managing face-to-face meetings with complainants.

Local Resolution Meetings (LRM’s) with patients or their relatives can make or break an ongoing relationship, between the trust and service if an unsatisfactory response is given. If handled properly, LRM can result in a positive outcome that speeds up resolution and closure. Face to face meetings are preferable for many reasons, it gives the service the chance to explore and clarify concerns and the opportunity for patients to:

  1. directly address concerns about communication.
  2. discuss the way they perceive they were cared for by your service.

Therefore, it is crucial for staff to be able to listen and identify trigger points to avoid escalation and develop the confidence to address sensitive concerns.

Here are a few tips that will be explored in the workshop:

  • Putting Positive Body Language Back into your Listening Equation
    Sit still, relax your shoulders and body and uncross your arms and legs.
  • Listen & Show you are Interested
    Don’t think about what to say next, be in the moment. Listen, lean forward and the use eye contact for 60% of the time.

Not every complainant will be reasonable in their expectations of what can be resolved in the meeting. Not many patients will be able to clearly articulate what happened to them. But all complainants will want to tell their story, be understood and be heard.

  • Empathy or Sympathy?
    Be aware of which emotion you show. Use empathy rather than sympathy- there is a difference. The complainants are likely to be feeling emotions such as shame, embarrassment and worry about what could happen to them or their relatives because of the complaint that they have made. Reflect back, paraphrase what has been said to ensure you are accurately understanding their experience.

LRM’s are held to help the complainant voice their fears, frustrations and any miscommunication during the process. It is a great opportunity for health professionals to improve the complainant experience and gain their trust.

Successful LRM’s held require preparation and careful planning and setting expectations and following up on agreements is key.

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Meet the expert: Catherine Gaskell
Cathe Gaskell
Catherine has held positions of Director of Nursing, Deputy Chief Executive and Chief Executive and is currently MD of The Results Company.
As an experienced operator with over 11 years of board-level experience, Cathe demonstrates the ability to transform failing or distressed services.

Cathe has extensive knowledge and expertise in a series of areas including; complaints, clinical investigations, serious untoward incidents and occupancy planning and reviews.