Social Security Experience Panels - keeping staff and clients safe: report

This report outlines the findings of a survey conducted with panel members, which looked to help design the processes for keeping Social Security Scotland staff and clients safe.

This document is part of a collection


The survey was sent to all 2,250 panel members, and 293 responded, a response rate of 13%. When asked what kind of situations could result in feelings of frustration or anger when dealing with an organisation like Social Security Scotland, most respondents talked about lack of understanding from staff. Some other situations respondents mentioned were staff not listening to respondents or demonstrating poor communication or lack of trust and inaccessible venues.

Suggestions for ways to reduce frustration and anger included Social Security Scotland always informing clients about what will happen at their appointments. Another popular response was the need for staff training. Respondents felt that as well as staff treating clients well, the organisation should consider the wider client’s needs, for example by providing childcare facilities within the organisation.

Respondents were asked how Social Security Scotland can help reduce anger or frustration in circumstances where the client’s existing health condition may have impacted on their behaviour and how they are perceived. The majority of respondents felt that the building should have a friendly environment and for staff to ask and listen to what clients’ needs are and accommodate them. Over nine in ten respondents (95 per cent) would want Social Security Scotland to store information on a client’s accessibility needs or disability to make it easier to interact with them.

Respondents were asked how the staff should respond to situations where clients may be displaying unacceptable actions. Within an office environment, the most common response was that within the building there should be a quiet area to calm down. The majority of respondents also felt that staff should be paired up when dealing with someone who may be displaying unacceptable actions. Over the phone, most respondents felt that staff should end the call, but always call back after a period of time to let clients calm down. The majority of respondents emphasised that staff should always interact with clients respectfully and kindly. When visiting a client in their house, respondents felt that staff should always go in pairs.

Respondents were asked what actions Social Security Scotland should take if a person’s actions have been deemed unacceptable and considered a risk to staff or other clients. The majority of respondents (80 per cent) felt that the organisation should limit face to face contact and only allow it if two staff members are present. The second most popular response was to only allow contact through third parties, for example an advocate.

Respondents were asked if they felt that it was important to alert staff before they interact with a client who had previously displayed unacceptable actions. Almost nine in ten respondents (89 per cent) felt that it was important to alert staff. Respondents felt that alerting staff could help them handle the situation.

A few respondents (4%) had said that staff should not be alerted to individuals who previously displayed unacceptable actions. A further 6% of respondents were not sure if staff should be alerted. These respondents felt that this knowledge could negatively affect interactions between staff and clients.

Respondents were asked how Social Security Scotland should communicate their decisions to those who had displayed unacceptable actions. The most popular response was through the post (88 per cent), with the second most popular being through email (44 per cent).

Social Security Scotland will offer the right of review of any decision on unacceptable actions at any time. Respondents were asked what sort of information people should be told about the decision, before deciding whether to ask for a review. The respondents who provided a comment suggested information about the events that have happened, about the decision that was made and who made it.

Respondents were asked how they feel about Social Security Scotland sharing information about unacceptable actions with other organisations. Almost half of the respondents (46 per cent) would feel very comfortable or comfortable with data being shared with other organisations such as the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) or local authorities.

Respondents were asked how Social Security Scotland should let people know about the policy on unacceptable actions. The majority of respondents (between 78% and 83%) were comfortable or very comfortable with the policy being advertised in each of the locations listed in the survey (websites, offices, Citizen’s Advice Bureau, GP clinics). The least popular was GP clinics with 10% saying they would feel uncomfortable with this.

This research is being used to inform the ongoing development and design of unacceptable actions policy. As part of this it will also will be used to help develop staff to ensure they are capable, aware and responsive to the complex needs of individuals.



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