As part of our new series of blogs, we offer insights and detail our procedures and processes when engaging in mediation with the OCCS.
The purpose of our new series is to help both the public and profession to understand how the OCCS work, to provide greater clarity and manage the expectations of all involved.
Our process is voluntary at every stage for the client and the optical professional. Our mediation process works to achieve a mutually beneficial outcome for both parties and on agreeing to mediation both parties sign our legally binding document which outlines the process itself.
Once a complaint has been raised and assessed to fall within the remit of the OCCS, a Resolution Manager is assigned to the case. OCCS mediation takes place by the OCCS gathering the relevant information and complaint history, with the OCCS Resolution Manager then confirming the next steps.
This may involve getting further information or moving directly to separate conversations with the optical client and optical professional. Where possible, mediation calls are scheduled for a set date that is agreeable to all involved.
In the spirit of openness and before mediation begins, both parties are encouraged to consider reflecting on the issues and possible options for resolution – this is to help make best use of the mediation process. Mediation aims to improve each party’s understanding of what has happened, acknowledge the perspective of the other party, and then start to look, at practical ways finding a resolution.
Mediation is about dispute resolution, and helping the parties move forward benefitting all involved. The Resolution Manager will manage the timing and length of the conversations.
Our mediation processes have been specifically designed and created to efficiently work with those involved to achieve an agreeable outcome.
At every stage, our neutral teams work to resolve the issue based on our set methods. We can adapt how we mediate and will look to find a way that is most likely to help resolve the complaint for the parties involved.
Mediation must be a confidential and a ‘without prejudice’ process. This means that the discussions within the mediation must remain within the mediation ‘bubble’. This enables a more constructive conversation as everyone can focus on addressing the issues raised and not protecting their position. This is one of the reasons that mediation is so effective at helping to resolve complaints.
If a resolution is agreed, this will then be legally binding on both parties. If the mediation ends without a resolution being agreed, then either party can take further action. The OCCS can provide confirmation the parties have tried an ‘alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process’ but neither party can refer to the discussions within the mediation.
It is important to note that both parties and the OCCS can end the mediation at any stage if they feel that it is not appropriate or helpful to continue.
A confidential and alternative method of tackling disputes which avoids going to court, mediation can be a very beneficial option to choose.
The OCCS asks that all parties communicate in a courteous and polite manner and any offensive language or behaviour will bring the mediation process to an immediate end.
We believe in acting in good faith and are there as a neutral party to facilitate dialogue and move towards a resolution.
As mediators, we help those in disputes to communicate about their issues of concern and assist the participants in finding solutions that are acceptable to everybody involved.
Mediation is a three-way dialogue between the optical professional, the consumer and our own, neutral Resolution Managers. We use a shuttle approach, so we do not involve the consumer and the optical practice in the same telephone call or email exchange.
In next month’s entry we will examine the role of the Resolution Manager and confidentiality when entering into mediation with the OCCS. For more information about our mediation services, contact our team on 0344 800 5071, via firstname.lastname@example.org or complete our online complaint form.