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  7. 301: Promote communication in health, social care or...

Explain when and how a social care worker should get advice about confidentiality.

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.

A social care worker may need to get advice about confidentiality if a situation arises that they are unsure about. For example, somebody may ask for an individual’s personal information but the worker may not know if they are authorised to be given it.

Social care workers should, in the first instance, get advice about confidentiality from their line managers and company policies. Up-to-date training can also help keep them informed.

Further information can be obtained from the local authority or current legislation (e.g. The Care Act 2014, Data Protection Act 1998).

Describe ways to maintain confidentiality in day to day communication.

Confidentiality

Day-to-day, confidentiality can be maintained by being mindful of how personal information is stored and discussed. Social care workers should also be familiar with current legislation; the UK’s Data Protection Act and the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation.

Personal records and documentation should be kept in a secure place where it can’t be accessed by the public or non-permitted individuals.

Discussions about individuals should only be done in private, where there is no risk of being overheard by others. Personal information should only be discussed with others on a need-to-know basis.

Personal information that is stored in digital format should only be on secure, password-protected devices and, again, only people that have authorisation should have access to it.

Envelopes and letters should be marked as Private & Confidential.

Documentation and records should be disposed of securely (e.g. shredded).

Any non-compliance or breaches in confidentiality should be reported immediately.

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.

In this case, I would explain to Hannah that her medication is necessary for her health and I have a duty of care to ensure that she takes it or contact relevant people if she doesn’t. I would discuss the reasons for her not taking the medication and explain that I could contact her GP to look at the possibility of changing the medication. Whether I tell her daughter or not would depend on the circumstances. If her daughter is her main carer, advocate or power of attorney I would explain that she has a right to know.

Describe the possible tensions that may arise between telling others of Hannah’s decision and keeping this information totally confidential.

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.

Hannah may be upset with me for breaking confidentiality, resulting in her being less open or friendly with me in future. If Hannah’s daughter was to find out that Hannah hasn’t been taking her medication, she may get angry which could cause tension between mother and daughter. Hannah may also blame me for this.

If I kept this information totally confidentiality, it would result in tensions between myself, my managers and my co-workers as they would, quite rightly, assume I cannot do my job properly and cannot be trusted. I would also expect to receive a disciplinary at the very least. If Hannah’s health were to deteriorate as a result of not taking her medication, her family and friends would not be happy with me. I could also be charged by the police for neglect.

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

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.

A social care worker wants to enable more effective communication with individuals using the service. Explain how they could access extra support or services that may be helpful.

Firstly, the social care worker should make a list of all the preferred methods of communication for the individuals using the service by referring to their Care Plans and consulting them individually. Then they can use this information to research what services are available.

Some professional services they may need to look into include translators that translate different languages, interpreters that translate sign language, speech and language therapists that work with individuals to create a tailor-made plan to help improve their communication.

Extra communication support can  be found from local or national charities and organisations as well as technology firms (for example, a visually impaired individually may need screen-reader software to be able to use a laptop).

Some individuals may also need to use an Advocacy Service if they are unable to put their views across themselves. An advocate is somebody who represents an individual’s point of view and communicates on behalf of them.