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Complaint feeling gutted


Buttercup
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On the last but one day of term a grandparent gave us a letter from his daughter. It was handwritten and four pages long complaining about all the things we supposedly did not do for her daughter during her time with us. Most of it un true and incidents that we thought we had sorted out at the time. I wrote a letter acknowledging it and saying we were disappointed she had not come to us earlier if she felt issues were not resolved. She is going to school in September thank fully not the one attached to us (sorry). Today I receive a letter from ofsted saying a child hit bit and bullied without us interveining. A child was left to draw on themselves showing lack of supervision. Key person did not listen properly regarding toileting. We do not communicate effectively with parents. As you can imagine gutted. We are an outstanding setting due inspection next year. I guess won't get that again. Never had anything like this before. Sorry just needed to get it off my chest. Great Start to summer.

Buttercup

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Oh Buttercup, what a sad ending to your year.

 

I'm sure you have everything documented about this family, and another case of why if it was so bad did this family stay with you. Ofsted must be run ragged with this type of ridiculous complaint.

 

Hope all gets resolved to your satisfaction, and don't be too despondent about any coming inspection, it's all about how we deal with issues and how we have moved on from them.

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Oh dear, didn't want to read and run, but I don't know quite what to say!

 

Did you document every incident at the time and how you felt it had been resolved? If so it will really help with your 'side' of things.

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oh Buttercup how utterly devastating on so many levels for you all - I'd like to say I'm surprised a parent could do this but it would be a fib because we hear about it all too often.

Did the Ofsted letter jump to conclusions and take the mums word for it all or was it open minded and asked you to investigate?

Keep the cards from all your lovely parents to show Ofsted - in fact take the quotes, photocopy them big and have them plastered round your entrance (and your staff room and office!)

Show them the time frames of how she stayed with you, dig out your documentation from the various times and recall (staff as well) any further communications/comments with you that demonstrated she was now happy etc etc Show them your actions from each stage and how the parent was happy etc and most of all try and rise above it and focus on the many many other highly satisfied customers you've sent off to school - this says more about that parent than it does about you and your team

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Ofsted just want evidence, they will want to see that you did everything you could to rectify the situations at the time. They don't do common sense, law of averages or reason, its paperwork all the way.

I have no doubt you did everything properly, I'm thinking of you xx

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It stated points did not say whom from and said would leave it to us to investigate and ask at next inspection. Problem is she has left for school. All I can do is locate evidence for points raised. For example parent took photo of writing on child's belly came to us next day showed us. All I could do was apologise. Logged it in our book but not as a complaint as I did not think it was at the time.

 

What is a complaint versus parent just making a point.

 

Buttercup

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I really feel for you, especially as its the start of the hols as this will play on your mind for longer than normal now. Ive had a similar experience too and just tried to think 'how can I improve this so another parent doesnt feel like this again' it may not be as she has stated (infact it maybe so far from the truth) but I feel this always helps me as then I put my anger and frustration into postive terms by pushing myself and staff team into going that extra mile. I always say there are no negative comments just pointers on where we can improve! if I put my annoyance into this I find I always come up with great ideas and it also helps show Ofsted and others that we are constantly trying to be the best we can be and will improve where we can. x

Also as said above action point get all the evidence together, highlight points of parents letter and ofsted detailing each incident, response etc.

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The more I think about it the more determined I am to not let this happen again. We do everything we'll but yes there is always ways to improve. As manager I just feel so much pressure to keep parents,staff and all children on track. With 80 children it is very time consuming but I will be pushing everyone that one step further in sept.

 

Thank you

 

Buttercup

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Doing it like this once she's left is almost like she didn't have the guts to face you and do it when she was still with you which is ridiculous if she felt so strongly. Were any of the things logged as complaints at the time or were they all just little things?

 

When you wrote back did you offer to talk to her about it or anything and did you ever hear back? It is so frustrating when one thing like this can have such an impact, I don't think parents get it at all :-(

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what gets me is they expect us to care nigh on as much as they do (and we do our damnedest) and then think they can throw things like this at us and it not sting/hurt - coming out fighting is so the best way to tackle it

What worries me is that you do go that extra mile to ensure it doesn't happen again, which raises expectations higher and inevitably leads to other minor niggles that get blown out of proportion - we end up at breaking point!

Please tell me the little girl had come it at some point with drawings on her that she did at home? even though it might have been a while away from your incident - or a tale of when she's drawn on the walls/bumped herself whilst in her mams care - anything that hints that children cannot be watched 24/7 - even when on a 1:1 with their parent (we've had a parent niggle/gripe over amounts of accidents - only to walk in later on in the week and the child had a smacker of a black eye - done whilst in their care - at that point they understood the potential of a more mobile toddler!)

It is bewildering when they raise things, state that they aren't complaining and then raise it again later! We log everything and record any incidental remarks (like above) that may serve us well later - your attitude is what made you outstanding; and it's what will enable you to retain it moving on from this :D

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Thank you everyone it's great to know we are not alone. Parent hardly ever came to play group always gran, grandad or dad so all info 3rd hand. There was never an actual complaint. She moaned that child was not in sports day photo that's cos she was being chased around field by staff member. Put on report next step to help with toileting. She had trouble number two. That's been thrown back at us.

 

Will move on from this.

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What is a complaint versus parent just making a point.

 

Buttercup

That's a really good question?!

Does a parent have to state they are making a complaint when they are talking to you, for you to log it in your complaints file?

Do you all log all the 'parent points' that are made? If so where do you log them?

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I have been receiving complaints over the years and they have cost me much time and energy to process. I'm aware that the nature of the job is that many things suddenly need to be dealt with at the same time and making mistakes are part of being human, and that some parents are unreasonable and over-anxious. But I take on each complaint fully (a personality trait) and look at it thoroughly not only to get over it, but also to be able to protect myself from future situations. Most issues have let to a change in policies, procedures, plans or guidances to parents.

My understanding is that a complaint needs to be 1. in writing (can be an e-mail) 2. related to a breach of the requirements.

We have a Parents Communication Record where we record a summary of what parents have brought up and our response. Its purpose is not primarily to log complaints, but to keep track of what we have discussed.

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But it does seem more positive that Ofsted have said you can investigate it yourself. That does feel like a drop of common sense for them anyway. Possibly treating you as professionals?

The complaints do sound a bit petty really in the overall picture of a busy setting and we would like to think Ofsted could see that. How upset can you be if you waited until your child left for school to complain?

My teenagers come home from school, everyday with writing all over them! Should I be phoning Ofsted!?

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It is hard, but you're right to move on......and it's good that Ofsted have said they will let you investigate it yourself, that's a bit of common sense. So, write up all that you can about it if you didn't at the time. As you have already replied to the parent, I'd leave it there, unless she comes back at you, which I don't think will happen. Sounds to me like it was her parting shot, so I would try not to worry, BUT, if you have anything to learn from her comments..........learn it xx

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sorry to hear about your issues with one parent... out of so many others who are happy with what you provide...

 

good advice already.. the fact that this came so late in the year, she waited until just before end of term and kept her child with you does all 'go against' her as if she was that concerned she would have removed her child at an earlier point and raised it as a complaint at the time, not wait until a later date.

As to what is a parent comment and what is a complaint... had issues like this where they comment on arrival or leaving about a negative issue... I used to at that point ask if they want to make it a complaint, and if so would they please wait and fill in a complaint form with me.. or would they like me to fill in a form for them to check and add comments to / sign later.. if they did not want to make it into a complaint we had a book to log these conversations and state that the parent did not want to make a formal complaint about it..

We recorded all parental chats comments etc , like wildflowers parent communication book.. staff were a bit tired of me always asking for them to record these.. but more than once it held us in good stead with Ofsted, who could see timelines, and what happened if needed... and for us to report back to them about any issues raised with them as it was easy to find.. if possible we always had a second staff member in earshot and 2 signatures in our book to show this..we had to resort to a way of easy access to all issues, chats, etc..as we had issues taken to Ofsted that were so late after the incident .

We all got a bit obsessive about recording everything after one complaint, and we were so glad we did as the next was a CP issue against a staff member.. and we had all documents to show it was unfounded..

Hopefully it will be resolved soon...

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As to what is a parent comment and what is a complaint... had issues like this where they comment on arrival or leaving about a negative issue... I used to at that point ask if they want to make it a complaint, and if so would they please wait and fill in a complaint form with me.. or would they like me to fill in a form for them to check and add comments to / sign later.. if they did not want to make it into a complaint we had a book to log these conversations and state that the parent did not want to make a formal complaint about it..

Does filling in a form make it a formal complaint, leading to the complaints procedure being followed with its various meetings and recordings?

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buttercup i feel your pain! I posted a couple of weeks ago about a very similar situation. The parent kept their child with us and we investigated and recorded. Our letter from ofsted also suggested no further action just record and they will check we have followed procedures....i have not had a complaint for 16 years so i was furious! IMO the parent was unjustified and the phonecall was unnecessary but i guess he must have been unhappy enough with something in his life to do it.....i think i was just the scapegoat and i suspect the same is true of your situation (guilt as a mother maybe!!)

get all the staff to record their thoughts...set up a file and put all your evidence in it...keep a timeline of what you have done and when....put any copied of emails or letters in there too and log it in your complaints book...then try to put it at the back of your mind! What did this woman want as an outcome to this process? my complainant wanted an action plan which is what i gave him for two of his three points the other he gave up on after discussion (we sent his daughter home when she appeared unwell!!)

good luck...pm me if you want anything else!

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I like your idea of asking if want to make a complaint. Will start doing that. Parent did put a list of things at end of her letter that she thought we could change in her expert opinion. Parent of one child and hairdresser.

 

Thanks again for all your comments

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Does filling in a form make it a formal complaint, leading to the complaints procedure being followed with its various meetings and recordings?

yes it did.. made parents think about what they were doing and was it a 'real' complaint or something that can be sorted with a chat... by recording if parent declined to take it further by recording a chat it would show. what we had done at the time and how it was resolved..

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Nothing to add. Lots of good advice given, some of which I will be taking on myself. Just sympathy and best wishes. Try not to let it ruin your summer. I should think the parent now having dumped upon you won't be giving it a second thought!

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Sorry narnia that was a bit harsh and unprofessional I am still a bit cross at the way she is dictating to us In her expert opinion (her words). I am not say we are not open to ideas and suggestions but she has not even been to any other playgroup or nurseries either.

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Most of the things I would have to say about the parent who complained to Ofsted about me would be very harsh and unprofessional. :ph34r: I still wake up in the night in a cold sweat sometimes about it.

Buttercup there has been a lot of great advice here and I can't really add to it. I just wanted to add my support and wish you a speedy resolution so that you can get on with life free from worry.

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