Community Care Licensing programs provide public assurance to families who have placed their loved ones in either a child day care or a residential care facility. The intent of provincial standards for care facilities is to ensure the health, safety and well-being of children and vulnerable adults in licensed care facilities. Licensing Officers are required by provincial legislation to investigate complaints of care being provided without the required care license. In addition, complaints of care in licensed care facilities must be followed up to ensure that the operator is abiding by the rules under which they must operate. These rules are set out in the Community Care and Assisted Living Act, the Child Care Licensing Regulation and the Residential Care Regulation.
In Northern Health, Licensing Officers are committed to responding to public complaints and inquiries in a courteous, consistent, reasonable, and timely manner. Those who are challenged by language, literacy or other barriers will be assisted to ensure that their concerns are understood, recorded, and appropriately acted upon.
Resolving concerns and disputes
There are a number of ways to resolve concerns regarding the care of your loved one. Complaints are best addressed and resolved at the time and place they occur and wherever possible with the licensee or manager of the care facility. Resolving concerns at the facility helps maintain a good relationship and often will find a quick and effective resolution for all persons involved.
If you are not satisfied with the response or the complaint is of a serious nature where an apparent risk to the health, safety and well-being of persons in care exists, you may refer your concerns to a Licensing Officer. There is no time limit in which to make a complaint; however, waiting too long may have an impact on the accuracy of facts and the health and safety of individuals in care.
You can call Enquiry BC toll-free at 1-800-663-7867 and ask to be connected to the nearest Community Care Licensing Office; or you can phone, mail, email, fax or visit your local office. Click here for the address, phone and fax number for these locations.
In addition to submitting a complaint to Community Care Licensing, concerns about the quality of care in residential care facilities that fall under the jurisdiction of the health authority can be registered with the Patient Care Quality Office.
What should I include in my complaint?
Quality care is important to all of us at Northern Health. The information you provide is valuable and forms an integral part of our work in providing public assurance that a healthy and safe environment is maintained in all licensed care facilities.
When filing a complaint, you will be asked for your name, address, and phone number in order for us to maintain contact with you. If you wish to remain anonymous, you can be assured that we will still investigate your complaint.
The information you should include will vary, depending on the situation. It is important to specify facts relating to the complaint without involving personal biases. Your complaint must establish facts rather than attempt to verify a complaint or allegation. Details are critical in making a complaint and precise documentation will help you ensure your recollection is accurate.
Whatever your complaint is, we will ask you for your name and contact information, and for you to provide as many details regarding your concern (who, what, where, when and how). It may be important to know your identity in relation to the situation (family member, neighbour, staff member) and whether you are providing first-hand information or conveying information on another person’s behalf. In some situations, we may need to know if there are other individuals that were witness to the incident or may have additional information relevant to your concerns.
What happens once I have made my complaint?
The Community Care and Assisted Living Act requires that every complaint related to the health, safety and well-being of persons in care be investigated. However, there are aspects of care that do not fall within the scope of the legislation. If your complaint falls under the jurisdiction of the Act, an investigation will be conducted by the Medical Health Officer or delegated Licensing Officer (LO). If it does not, you will be advised as such and provided with the reasons why. Wherever possible, the LO will provide you with other complaint mechanisms that may assist you.
The Community Care Licensing program operates under the auspice of administrative law. Throughout the complaint investigation, care providers are notified of the complaint and given an opportunity to respond and to provide plans for corrective actions if warranted. Decisions are focused on ensuring health and safety and are levied with the intent of fairness to all parties involved in the process.
Your complaint will be dealt with as quickly as possible to minimize any inconvenience to individuals in care, the family and the licensee of the facility. The duration of the investigation may vary depending on the nature and severity of the complaint and the risk level determined at the time. Some complaints, such as those alleging criminal activity, inappropriate discipline or abuse, are of a serious nature and may involve Child Protection Social Workers or the RCMP.
Is the complaint process confidential?
Your privacy is protected in accordance with confidentiality policies and the Freedom of information and Protection of Privacy Act. Community Care Licensing does not reveal the name or personal information of someone who makes a complaint. The information that you provide will be recorded and is therefore subject to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. This means that while records and information relating to the alleged incident may be released under the terms of the Act, every effort will be made to maintain confidentiality and protect the identity of complainants and associated individuals during an investigation. Anonymous complaints will be treated and processed in the same manner as other complaints. If you do not wish to provide your name when making a complaint, please notify the Licensing Officer or the person taking your information. You will be asked why you need this information kept confidential.
You may request the Licensing Officer to notify you once we have completed our investigation however privacy laws limit the amount of information that may be shared; therefore, details regarding the outcome of the investigation will not be provided.
If the investigation is a criminal matter or results in action taken against the licensee, or if the issue is taken to the Community Care and Assisted Living Appeal Board, information or documents you supply may be used and may become public information.