Ask Listen Do – event roundup

Making conversations count is a sector brief for social care providers who are committed to good practice in responding to feedback, concerns and complaints.

NHS England’s Ask, Listen, Do initiative encourages service providers to learn from and improve the experience of people with learning disabilities, autism or both and family carers when they give feedback, raise a concern or make a complaint.

In response to this, and as part of the cross-sector Quality Matters initiative, VODG hosted a roundtable which explored the issues that providers face and the steps they can take to improve people’s experience of raising a concern about the service they, or someone they care about, receives.

In this sector brief you will find:

  • Top tips from the roundtable
  • Slides from roundtable
  • Reflections from the National Autistic Society on their learning
  • Links to a range of resources that support good practice
Ask, Listen, Do roundtable summary

Delegates at the round-table discussion identified the following practical steps that organisations can take to make it easier for the people they support and their families to give feedback, raise concerns and make complaints:

  • Foster a culture that values informal conversations.
  • Explore concerns using accessible, informal phrasing e.g. ‘What’s annoying you?’
  • Create structures that enable people to give feedback, raise concerns and make complaints to another person with a learning disability or autism; examples include people with a learning disability in senior leadership roles or employed as quality checkers or as a complaints officer.
  • From induction onwards, encourage staff to challenge the norm and speak out.
  • Provide training for all staff on responding to feedback, concerns and complaints.
  • Listen to and log ‘grumbles’ and act on these. ‘Grumbles’ can be from self-advocates, family members or staff. Dealing with issues early on can prevent them escalating into complaints.
  • Seek to co-produce solutions to complaints and learning from them.

Delegates identified the following actions to promote good governance in relation to complaints:

  • Use a dashboard to consolidate information and data about services including human resource matters, accidents, incidents, concerns and complaints. This helps managers identify trends and patterns.
  • Create safe spaces to explore learning from when things go wrong.
  • Share learning from complaints with registered managers across the organisation.
  • Ensure learning from complaints informs policy development.
  • Ask your board what information they need about complaints in order to fulfil their governance responsibilities.

Slide decks

Carl Shaw & Mary Busk | NHS England
NHS England Ask, Listen, Do: making conversations count.
Thera Group
Quality monitoring at the Thera Group by people with a learning disability, including this video:


Carol Povey | National Autistic Society
Carol Povey reflects when things go wrong and highlights some of the National Autistic Society’s learning from the closure of Mendip House in Somerset.


Access a range of resources on the NHS England website to support good practice in handling feedback, concerns and complaints.

A film for people with a learning disability, autism or both, their families and carers, on making conversations count.

A film for staff on making conversations count.

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has published a single complaints statement which sets out good practice for care providers on dealing with feedback and complaints. An easy-read version is also available.

VoiceAbility provides advocacy services and publishes a range of resources, including a guide to help advocates to get the best possible outcome for the people they support.

Information about how to give feedback or make a complaint about NHS care and treatment.

Information about the Quality Matters initiative which sets out a shared commitment to high-quality, person-centred adult social care.

Further resources from Citizens Advice on complaining about social care services.

Information about the actions to take if you have a complaint about a charity.

Next steps

VODG is working with national partners, including the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, Parliamentary and Health Services Ombudsman, Directors of Adult Social Services, Local Government Association, Care Quality Commission, Department for Education and others, along with families and people themselves to help all organisations make it easier for people and their families, children and adults, to give feedback, raise a concern and make a complaint.

We are now scoping the possibility of social care providers joining a pilot programme to work within a community of practice to implement Ask, Listen, Do principles within their organisation, and to share local and national learning. To express interest and to find out more please email [email protected] by 10 December 2018.

“Children, young people and adults with learning disabilities, autism or both and their families and carers are telling us that they aren’t being listened to when they give feedback, raise concerns or make complaints. This also reflects my own experience.

Not listening to people can lead to major health inequalities. Because of this we have asked organisations across health, social care and education to sign up to our principles. Ask means that organisations seek people’s views about the services they provide, Listen means that organisations really listen using any way that a person wishes to communicate and Do means that they do something about it for the better. This will improve the lives of people with learning disabilities, autism or both and will significantly reduce health inequalities.”

Carl Shaw – Learning Disability Advisor (NHS England)

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