We at Innovation Contracting recognise that some customers we come into contact with will be vulnerable in the context of how we interact with them, by virtue of their personal circumstances. We pride ourselves in the service we provide and we believe we have a duty and obligation to ensure that we put in place appropriate additional support mechanisms to take account of the needs of these vulnerable customers and to ensure such customers are treated fairly, with respect and with understanding.
Vulnerability may not be a permanent state, we can all have times when we are potentially vulnerable. As a general rule, we believe someone is vulnerable if they have difficulty understanding the information we put before them, if they cannot use or weigh up that information as part of a decision-making process or if they have difficulty communicating their decision.
Consequently, a vulnerable person could be a person that (among others):
o is not a native English speaker.
o is a sufferer of a long-term mental illness such as dementia.
o has a sensory impairment such as deafness.
o has a learning disability that affects their ability to process and retain information.
However, a person may also be considered vulnerable as a result of temporary circumstances that affect their emotional and mental well-being, which in turn may restrict their ability to understand, process, retain and communicate information. Circumstances such as:
o a recent loss or bereavement.
o a recent injury.
o physical illness such as cancer.
o having severe financial difficulties.
o other temporary circumstances that may lead to depression, anxiety etc.
We work on the general principle that we will take appropriate steps to consider the circumstances of any individual who is particularly vulnerable or susceptible to detriment:
· If required, we will make adjustments to the way in which we communicate with them.
· We recognise that vulnerability is a state not a trait, that there is a sliding scale of vulnerability, and that people are different, meaning that some customers will become vulnerable in circumstances where others may not.
· We believe the protection of any vulnerable person is paramount; those who are vulnerable without exception have the right to be treated fairly and appropriately regardless of gender, ethnicity, disability, sexuality or beliefs.
· We work on the basis that every individual is different, has different circumstances, and therefore may need consideration. This means that as far as possible, we will treat individuals in a way that is appropriate to their needs, where possible tailoring our approach.
· We have a number of processes and tools in place to assist vulnerable customers and these are covered in more detail under ‘How we can support vulnerable customers’ below.
· We take any complaint about treatment of vulnerable customers very seriously and any such complaint will be investigated fully.
How we can support vulnerable customers
We have in place a range of services and processes to support customers. Some of these are aimed at people with disabilities who may well not be vulnerable, but form part of our wider suite of support for customers who need us to do things a little differently. The services we can provide are summarised below:
Alternative formats– whilst many customers who need reasonable adjustments will not be vulnerable, we recognise that for some customers a disability such as being blind means we need to communicate with that customer in a different way. This may include providing communications in large print or verbally (in the presence of a legal representative, friend or family member).
Language Resources– we recognise that a language barrier may lead to individuals being potentially vulnerable. If appropriate, we are happy to organise an interpreter for verbal communications or provide a translation of our documentation.
Home visits– although we tend to communicate via correspondence, emails and telephone conversations, we do provide a home visiting service if required for vulnerable customers.
Communicating with Potentially Vulnerable Customer
Identifying a customer as being potentially vulnerable does not automatically preclude their engagement with our services. In the event that a potentially vulnerable customer is identified, we will ensure that our files clearly record this fact in order to ensure that they are treated fairly in respect of their vulnerability.
When communicating with a potentially vulnerable client, we will take extra precautions to ensure fair and reasonable treatment:
a) the client must be provided additional time and opportunity to interpret, understand and question the information that we provide.
b) we will ask the client if there is another person or persons that can, or does assist or represent them.
c) we will continuously ask for confirmation that the client has understood the information that we present to them, and that beyond doubt, they agree to the terms of our services.
d) the client’s position of vulnerability will be taken into account in the event of contract cancellation, failure to supply adequate information pertaining to their claim, and any other circumstance that would ordinarily prejudice the client.
In the event that we determine that a client is not in a position to sufficiently understand and agree to our Terms and Conditions of engagement, we will not seek to engage the client, and will write to the client providing, where possible, guidance as to where they can find the service they seek.
Please contact us for further information about any of our services and, in particular, how we can adjust our approach if you need help.
ANNEX 1 – HOW TO CONTACT US
You can write to us at the following address: Innovation Contracting Limited, Alexandra House, 33 Alexandra Road, Wisbech, Cambridgeshire PE13 1HQ; alternatively, you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
v.1.0 May 2018 Edited & customised by: Innovation Contracting Ltd, Registered Office: Alexandra House, Alexandra Road, Wisbech, Cambridgeshire PE13 1HQ. Registered in England and Wales; Company Registration No: 08939489.