Confidentiality, information sharing and child protection
Confidentiality issues and information sharing need to be clearly understood for all those working within the ‘drop-in’.
Young people should be aware at all times of the school’s confidentiality policy or protocol. A confidentiality statement should be on display in the reception area.
The sexual health information page gives further details on confidentiality and information sharing and covers guidelines for dealing with sexual health problems within a ‘drop-in’.
The Sample Documents tab gives sample school confidentiality policies that that can be adapted to individual school’s purposes.
Professionals working at the ’drop-ins’ should be aware of Wiltshire’s procedures for accessing the right level of support for children and young people with additional needs. Details of these can be found on Wiltshire Pathways.
Confidentiality needs to be clearly understood for all those working within the ‘drop-in’, including substitute professionals, in case of illness or holiday, and access to high quality continuous training for all staff at all levels.
Young people have the same rights to confidentiality as adults, provided there are no child protection issues.
Confidentiality should never be guaranteed to a young person. If confidentiality cannot be kept because you feel the young person is in danger of harm or harming others, the reasons should be shared with the young person who should be kept informed of why and with whom the information is being shared.
Your ‘drop-in’ will have a multi-agency approach and professionals representing each agency will work to their own guidelines and codes of practice. Young people can consent to advice and treatment without consent from their parents, so long as they are judged to be competent to understand the choices presented to them. However, health professionals will always try to persuade young people of the benefits of involving parents, if at all possible. Where a young person is adamant they do not want their parents to be informed, every effort should be made to involve another trusted adult, identified by the young person.
Key principles for information sharing
- The welfare of a child or young person is the prime consideration in all decisions.
- Professionals can work together to safeguard and promote the welfare of children effectively only if they share relevant information.
- Workers should share only as much information as they need to but should share enough to achieve the purpose for which information is being shared.
- Where a child has a need for services from a number of agencies, ongoing appropriate information sharing is likely to be needed between these agencies.
- Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights gives everyone the right to respect for private family life, home and correspondence. Authorities can interfere with this only if they are not doing anything which is against the law, and are pursuing a legitimate aim, including protection of health and the rights of others, and the action is no more than is needed. Sometimes this may mean a worker has to balance one individual’s rights against another’s; for example a child’s rights against their parents’ rights, or the different rights of one individual eg a young person’s rights to privacy against their right to protection.
- It is important to work in partnership with children, young people and families, especially people with parental responsibility whenever possible.
- Information ‘belongs’ to the child, young person, or adult to which it refers, and should generally be kept confidential. Individuals should generally be kept aware of what is happening to their information and have the right of access to it.
- Unless the professional has a duty to share the information, it is good practice to obtain a person’s consent, depending on his or her age and understanding, wherever possible, except when this would put someone at risk of harm or prejudice a police investigation into a serious offence, or lead to unjustifiable delay in protecting a child. Where consent has not been sought or refusal to give consent has been overruled, the person should be kept informed where possible, unless this would place someone at risk of harm, or prejudice a police investigation into a serious offence.
- People working with children need to take professional decisions based on understanding of the guidance, and the particular situation, and record their decisions about and reasons for sharing specific information.
- Good information sharing is based on good information keeping. Records should be accurate, relevant, kept up to date, and kept for no longer than is necessary for their purpose