Services

HaDSCO operates within two key service areas:

Service one: Assessment, negotiated settlement, conciliation and investigation of complaints.
Service two: Education and training in the prevention and resolution of complaints

Assessment, negotiated settlement, conciliation and investigation of complaints

HaDSCO’s complaint resolution process is governed by the following pieces of legislation:

Under these pieces of legislation, complaints can be lodged by the service user or a nominated representative (for example, a family member, carer or guardian) against individuals or organisations that provide a health, disability or mental health service. These may include:

Health services
  • Ambulance service
  • Chiropractors
  • Dentists
  • Medical Practitioners
  • Nurses and midwifery
  • Occupational Therapists
  • Pharmacists
  • Private hospitals
  • Psychologists
  • Public hospitals
  • Screening and immunisation services
  • Social workers in a health setting
Disability services
  • Accommodation
  • Advocacy services
  • Carer’s respite
  • Day activities, recreation and leisure services
  • Disability Services Commission
  • In-home support
  • Therapy services

Mental health services

  • Allied health professionals
  • Community mental health services
  • Mental health nurses
  • Non-governmental organisations that are publicly funded
  • Private hospitals
  • Private psychiatric hostels
  • Psychiatrists
  • Psychologists
  • Public hospitals

HaDSCO is generally unable to deal with complaints which are more than two years old or have already been determined by a court, registration board or tribunal. When HaDSCO cannot deal with a complaint, referrals to alternative organisations may be suggested.

Find out more about the resolution process and making a complaint.

Investigations

HaDSCO is one of the key independent statutory authorities able to undertake investigations into broad systemic issues related to the provision of health, disability or mental health services in Western Australia.

The investigations undertaken by HaDSCO are governed by the Health and Disability Services (Complaints) Act 1995, Part 6 of the Disability Services Act 1993 and Part 19 of the Mental Health Act 2014. These Acts provide guidelines to which HaDSCO investigations must adhere to. It explains who has the authority to request and undertake investigations, how they must be managed and the powers of the Director.

Within this section, information is provided to explain:

The role of investigations

When and why investigations are undertaken

When an investigation cannot be undertaken

The difference between investigations and complaint resolution

The investigation process and powers of the Director

The role of investigations

Investigations are undertaken via a formal process through which HaDSCO determines if any unreasonable conduct has occurred on the part of a service provider and typically look into systematic issues.

It is the role of investigations to look into broad ranging issues, when necessary identify areas for improvement and provide recommendations which enable the continuous development of enhanced service provision.

When and why investigations are undertaken

The Health and Disability Services (Complaints) Act 1995 states the Director may undertake an investigation:

  • When the Minister is of the opinion that it is in the public interest on a matter of general importance relating to health that an investigation be carried out
  • At the direction of the Minister for Health; Mental Health or Minister for Disability Services
  • If a complaint cannot be resolved through conciliation and warrants investigation

When an investigation cannot be undertaken

The Director must not investigate if a conciliator recommends that the Director should not investigate a complaint, unless asked to do so by the person who made the complaint.

Before agreeing to investigate a matter, an assessment of the likely costs and benefits is carried out by HaDSCO, including whether a matter is more suited to be addressed by another agency (for example, the Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency).

The difference between investigations and complaint resolution

It is important to understand that the investigative process is quite different to the HaDSCO complaint resolution service. The only main similarity between the two processes is that HaDSCO remain an independent and impartial body through out both.

The key differences are:

  • It is the aim of complaint resolution to assist parties to resolve a complaint to mutual satisfaction. Investigations however look into broad systemic issues and make recommendations for service improvement. It does not work to resolve a complaint.
  • Complaint resolution is initiated by a complainant. Investigations are initiated by the Director, the Minister for Health; Mental Health or Minister for Disability Services.
  • During complaint resolution, both parties are heavily involved in the process. During an investigation, parties are kept informed of the progress but are not involved in the process.

Typically individual complaints are more effectively and efficiently resolved via the HaDSCO complaint resolution service and may only be investigated when the Director or Minister is of the opinion an investigation is warranted. In this case, the role of the complainant is limited in comparison to complaint resolution. HaDSCO will head the investigations as an impartial agency and will gather information from a variety of sources to make unbiased recommendations.

In summary, while conciliation and negotiated settlement works towards resolution following a complaint; investigations work to identify and encourage service improvement and are undertaken at the Director’s discretion.

Read more about complaint resolution, negotiated settlement and conciliation.

The investigation process and powers of the Director

HaDSCO investigations are impartial. HaDSCO prefers to work collaboratively with relevant individuals or organisations in order to gather information. During the investigation process, the investigator may for example, conduct interviews and view documents.

Typically all parties involved cooperate with HaDSCO investigations. However, the Health and Disability Services (Complaints) Act 1995, provides the Director with the power to when necessary:

  • Summons individuals or documents
  • Apply for a warrant to enter a premises
  • Enter and inspect premises and take copies of any necessary documents.

This is last resort and HaDSCO rarely needs to utilise this power.

At the completion of an investigation each party is provided with the opportunity to respond to the findings of the investigation and make representation to the Director. If any findings of unreasonable conduct have been made the provider must advise this Office what measures have been undertaken to comply with recommendations.

Any recommendations made as a result of an investigation will be followed up by HaDSCO.

Education and training in the prevention and resolution of complaints

HaDSCO is responsible for collaborating with stakeholders to review and identify the causes of complaints and suggesting ways to minimise those causes. HaDSCO assists and educates providers to improve complaints management procedures and shares information about the Office’s work with specific stakeholders and the public in general.

This service is delivered through:

  • Provision of quality information and reports to various organisations including the Minister for Health; Mental Health or Minister for Disability Services
  • Outreach with individuals and groups including presentations, events, forums and consultations.
  • Raising awareness of HaDSCO and strengthening access to services.

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