II. CONFIDENTIALITY AND THE LAW
We have a professional and legal duty to respect and protect the confidentiality of service users at all times. This information includes but is not limited to service users lifestyle, family, heath or care needs, and any other information which they wish to remain private.
We will treat any information about service users as confidential and will keep records secure by protecting them from loss, damage and inappropriate access.
III. PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS
We are registered with the HCPC (Health and Care Professions Council) and therefore follow their standards of conduct, performance and ethics.
We will obtain consent from our service users prior to sharing or disclosing their identifiable information to a third party or use it for reasons which are not related to the care or services we are providing for them.
Consent, for the purposes of confidentiality, means that the service user understands and does not object to their information being disclosed or shared, the reason for its disclosure, the third party person or organisations the information is to be shared with and how the information will be used.
For consent to be valid, it must be voluntary (the person makes the decision freely without persuasion or pressure from a third party) and informed (the user has sufficient information to make their decision), and the person giving the consent must have the capacity (see below) to make that decision.
V. CONSENT AND CAPACITY
For consent to be valid, the child, young person or their legal guardian must have the capacity to consent to our involvement. Capacity means the service users ability to use and understand information to make a decision, and to communicate their decision to us.
We assume adult service users (18+) have sufficient capacity unless evidence provided to us suggests otherwise, such as mental health issues, severe learning disabilities, brain damage, physical or mental conditions that affect judgement, or the effects of drugs or alcohol.
Young people or teenagers (16-17 years), are treated as adult service users as above.
For children under 16, consent is nearly always obtained from a person with parental responsibility such as a parent, legally appointed guardian, a person with a residence order for a child or a local authority. Some children under 16 can give their consent if they fully understand the information provided to them, otherwise known as ‘Gillick Competence.’
VI. LACK OF CAPACITY
In situations where a child or young person lacks the capacity to make a decision, we do not make the decision, but instead offer our professional opinion to the legal guardian as to what we consider to be in that person’s best interest.
The best interests of the child or young person must be balanced against other duties. If we have a legal duty to share the information, or need to share it to protect public interest, it can be shared without consent (please refer to section below regarding public interest and safeguarding).
VII. DISCLOSING INFORMATION WITH CONSENT
We will obtain express consent in writing, where possible.
When information is disclosed to a third party with the service user’s consent, we ensure that it is necessary to provide the information and disclose only the information that is relevant. We will ensure that the professional receiving the information understands why it is being shared and their duties to keep it confidential.
If we decide not to share information to other professionals when otherwise considered reasonable to do so, or if a service user does not authorise its disclosure, we will keep clear records of this and will justify any decision we make.
Where a request for information we hold has been made and we do not feel that it is relevant, we will request that they explain their request, and may also obtain legal advise from our professional body if required.
VIII. DISCLOSING INFORMATION WITHOUT CONSENT
We can disclose confidential information without consent from the service user if it is in the ‘public interest’ to do so, such as preventing a serious crime or serious harm to other people. Any requirement to disclose confidential information under these circumstances will be carefully considered, justified and legal advice shall be sought, where appropriate. Clear records will be kept detailing the circumstances and justification of the decision.
In some circumstances, we may disclose confidential information if required to do so by law, such as a court order. Only relevant information will be provided and a record will be maintained.
The service user will be informed of information disclosed unless the disclosure is to prevent or report a serious crime, or would affect how a serious crime is prevented or detected.
If disclosure is not required by law, and cannot be justified in the public interest, we must obtain express consent from the service user.
We are obliged to take appropriate action if we have concerns about the safety or well-being of children or vulnerable adults. We will follow local policies and processes for raising a safe-guarding concern.
IX. SERVICE USERS ACCESS TO THEIR INFORMATION
Service users are entitled to see information we hold about them and we respect this. Any such requests may incur an administrational charge, and should be made in writing to firstname.lastname@example.org. The information will be provided within one month. In some cases, this may be extended or a refusal made. In these circumstances, you will be provided with a full explanation and forwarded details of our complaints procedure, if required.
Last Updated: This Confidentiality Policy was last updated on Sunday 28th October 2018.