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Confidentiality is an important principle that enables people to be able to share issues or gather advice. However, there will be situations that will call for relevant information to be passed on should further action be required, such as a safeguarding concern. Ensuring that certain information is shared in a cohesive manner will warrant a quicker resolution and is considered good safeguarding practice. All employees will be privy to internal policies and procedures regarding confidentiality, data protection, and safeguarding. External agencies such as social workers, GP’s, psychiatrists etc. will also be aware of their local authority’s safeguarding procedure, and understand the importance of not breaking confidentiality unless absolutely necessary to ensure the safety and wellbeing of a vulnerable person.
A manager’s duty will be to maintain staff’s awareness of the procedures and legislations with regular refresher courses via e-learning or face to face training, and general discussion in supervisions and team meetings, to keep up good practice and knowledge, should they need to become an ‘alerter’. They will be aware of who to approach depending on those involved, whilst maintaining that giving personal details may not always be necessary, depending on the severity of the situation. When dealing with the people we support, it is important to explain to them that there are certain principles that are adhered to (Calditcott Principles); such as not being able to give assurances of confidentiality being followed, should the scenario be considered of ‘vital interest’, as highlighted in the Data Protection Act.
Gathering consent is important, for those who are deemed to have capacity, and for those who do not ensuring that it is in their best interest via discussion with management and/or an advocate for the individual. Staff are also aware that it is paramount to put the person we support’s needs above the care provider’s, as the concern may stem from institutional or organisational abuse. Documentation of events, including statements obtained and decisions that have been made are evidenced to confirm that all necessary steps were made and the need to break confidential was essential, only the relevant information was communicated, and only shared with people on a ‘need to know’ basis.
Following the Data Protection Act principle, these authorised people are designated, and highlighted in the individual’s care plan, which takes into account their capacity, level of care, family involvement, advocacy, deprivation of liberties, power of attorney and so on.GDPR requires providers and care teams to store personal data securely, and only for as long as needed, including case files, statements, notifications etc. However, should certain data be needed, that information can be accessed again at any time by authorised persons. Duty of care to the individual will ultimately override data protection when necessary.Factors that can influence confidentiality and lead to potential concerns, include bad staff culture such as gossiping and clique behaviour, as this can lead to private information being shared amongst unauthorised personnel. If an individual has not given consent to their information being shared, then those responsible are working against legislations that are in place to protect them, and are subject to disciplinary or legal action.
Social media has been a grey area for a long time from organisational stand point, but policies have been introduced to ensure that staff are aware of misuse of these sites, in particular sharing information about their place of work, employees, employers, or people we support. When people we support are using social media, employees do not interact or add them into their social network on the sites, as this breaches professional boundaries and opens up the potential of abuse or a data breach.Complaints and whistleblowing procedures are in place to allow people to raise concerns in a confidential manner, and as part of that process they are bound by this to ensure that the complaint is taken seriously and without repercussions against that individual, or anyone else involved. Management will confirm this with them, and only feed information to relevant persons, and the whistleblower if deemed necessary.
Investigation meetings and disciplinaries also follow this same principle, as any breach of confidentiality and dismiss or misinterpret any information that has been established.When recruiting new staff, there are extensive checks and processes that ensure that any personnel employed to the organisation are deemed safe to work with vulnerable adults. DBS checks clarify whether the person has any criminal convictions and whether this will restrict their employability. They must declare these, then after extensive checks and investigations, the organisation will consider if they are eligible. Documentation from the candidate will be required at the interview, which will establish their ‘right to work’ in the UK, and is split into sections that requires proof of identification (passport, birth certificate), proof of national insurance number, and proof of address (utility bill, bank statement from past 3 months).
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