How would you explain the term ‘confidentiality’ to Hannah?

NOTE: Please be aware that the information on this page is a very rough draft and has not been fact-checked so should be used accordingly (taken with a pinch of salt)! However, it should (hopefully) give you some pointers and set you off in the right direction.

You are a social care worker and a service user, Hannah, tells you that she is unhappy taking her new medication.  She thinks she does not need it and so she is throwing it away. You know from her care plan that Hannah does need to take the take the medication regularly and gets confused. Hannah begs you to keep this confidential and not tell anyone especially her daughter, who she sees regularly, as her daughter will be very angry.

As an individual, Hannah has the right to choose whether or not she takes her medication but because her care plan states she needs to take the medication regularly, I would explain to her that I have a duty-of-care to disclose the fact that she has not been taking it. I would explain that if she were to get ill from not taking the medication, I would feel awful and could get in trouble for not telling anybody.

I would continue by saying that I respect her privacy and would reassure her that I would only tell the people that need-to-know (my manager, her G.P etc.) and would not tell her daughter directly if she didn’t want me to.