The Dochas Centre 50 Campbell Street, Lochgilphead, Argyll PA31 8JU               Scottish Charity No  029821                                                                                                                

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Dochas Counselling Service Complaints & Compliments


Dochas Counselling Service (DCS) aims to provide a quality service to all Service Users, their families and their representatives. However, DCS appreciates that there will be occasions where problems arise and in these cases DCS will seek to address and resolve issues of complaint as quickly as possible.

During the admission process all Service Users will be informed of the Complaints and Compliments Procedure and will be made aware of how to access this and how to make a complaint either verbally or in writing through the DCS policy. DCS will also ensure that Service Users are aware that they have the right to complain directly to COSCA once our complaint procedure has been exhausted.

COSCA (Counselling and Psychotherapy in Scotland)


16 Melville Terrace

Stirling FK8 2NE

Telephone -01786 475 140

Purpose of the Policy

DCS recognises that the Complaints and Compliments Policy gives Service Users, family members, customers, representatives, volunteers or members of the public a process in which to give feedback on the quality of the service provided and in turn it gives DCS the opportunity to learn and grow. People can complain about any aspect of the counselling service such as members of staff, volunteers and groups carrying out work on our behalf.

The policy is in place to ensure that:

- complaints are dealt with effectively

- complaints are appropriately looked into

- all complainants are treated with respect and dignity

- complainants are given the opportunity to appeal if they remain dissatisfied with the response given

- service and organisational learning is identified out of complaints and compliments.

What is a Complaint?

A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction about the way in which DCS has provided a service, the quality of the service provided or a lack of service provided.

Time Limits to make a Complaint

DCS sets clear expectations of when a complaint should be raised by a complainant and expects that complaints will be raised within 12 months of the date a matter occurred, or the date the matter came to the attention of the complainant. DCS does reserve the right to consider complaints which are out with the 12 month timeframe if there are specific circumstances which have prevented the issue from being raised sooner.

How a Complaint can be made?

DCS requests that issues of complaint are raised at the earliest opportunity. This will give DCS the chance to satisfactorily resolve the complaint before it develops into a bigger problem.

Verbal or Written Complaints

Complainants can chose to complain verbally or in writing to a member of DCS management e.g. Manager of the centre or the DCS co-ordinator. Written complaints can be on the DCS Complaints Form (click here to fill in the form), or a letter or an e-mail. These complaints would be subject to investigation and dealt with by the Centre Manager or DCS co-ordinator. Our named external person, Douglas Philand, (a former member of our board) would deal with the appeals process.

Informal complaints can be made via text or other secure social media. Verbal complaints can be in person or over the telephone. Informal complaints can sometimes be dealt with without having to go to the formal process and are sometimes misunderstandings that can be cleared up.

Regardless of how a complaint is received i.e. verbally or in writing, will focus on the nature of the complaint to determine the most appropriate way to resolve it.

Please submit your complaint form to:

Maggie McLaren

Dochas Counselling Co-ordinator

The Dochas Centre, 50 Campbell Street, Lochgilphead, Argyll PA31 8JU Telephone 01546 600 022

Complaints Process

When a complaint is received the nature of the complaint will be reviewed in line with the Complaints delegated powers.

Within 3 working days the complaint will be acknowledged and the complainant will be notified of how their complaint is being handled e.g. at a local level within the service or by an external person. The letter of confirmation will also confirm the name of the person dealing with the complaint.

Our procedure will be made available in other languages and formats where possible.

We will assist people to understand the procedure and/or be able to signpost them to the local advocacy service for support. All complainants have the right to be supported and to be accompanied or represented by a supportive person.

Anonymous complaints will be considered on an individual basis.  The level of action taken to look into an anonymous complaint may be limited dependent on the level of information given in the original complaint.


Where there is a route of communication with an anonymous complainant no outcome will be given.  DCS will only acknowledge receipt and clarify the understanding of the information given prior to the complaint being looked into.


Anonymous complaints are different to complaints which are raised through the Whistleblowing Policy and the complainant wants to retain anonymity.

The complainant and those complained will not give evidence at the same time.

A conflict of interest can be declared to the external named person, Douglas Philand.

We will acknowledge the complaint within 3 days, if a response can be given, this will be issued within a further 7days, giving the complainant 14 days to appeal. If more information is required an investigation will be needed this should be concluded within 21 days, allowing a further 14 days for the complainant to appeal.

If at any point the Complaint Manager becomes aware that legal action regarding the complaint is underway, or is pending, they can halt the Complaints Policy at any time, until any legal process is complete. In these circumstances, the Complaint Manager will write to update the Complainant.

The outcome of the complaint could result possible sanctions e.g. an apology, retraining, suspension or dismissal.

At the conclusion of the process, a report will be sent to COSCA.

Complaints Appeal Process

Complainants have the right to appeal against the outcome of their complaint if they believe it to be unfair.

In the complaint outcome letter the complainant will be informed of their right of appeal and the name of the Appeal Manager will be given. If a complainant chooses to appeal then they should submit this within 14 days of receipt of the complaint outcome letter, detailing the reason for their appeal.

The complainant’s appeal will be acknowledged within 3 working days and the Appeal Manager will aim to conclude the appeal within 14 working days.


The feedback received through compliments is as important as complaints. Compliments allow DCS to identify where things have gone well and this can allow DCS to introduce this positive practice in other parts of the organisation.

Copies of written compliments are shared with our volunteers, staff and Board of Directors. Compliments also support any funding application we are completing and submitting.

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