CONFIDENTIALITY (is 'Sacred')

 

OBTAINING INFORMATION

 

The nature of the work of Dandelions Counselling where engagement work is concerned, results in information of a personal, and sometimes sensitive, nature being divulged and retained.  This may be obtained from the children and young people (YP) with whom staff engage, parents and carers of those individuals or other professionals such as social workers and school staff.

 

THERAPEUTIC RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN DANDELIONS AND YOUNG PEOPLE 

 

The work of Dandelions relies on the relationship fostered between Engagement Workers or Counsellors and the children and YP who access the service.

 

This essential relationship is based on trust, empathy, and rapport.

 

Children and YP must feel confident that they can discuss issues, problems and experiences openly and honestly and that, generally, the details will not be divulged without permission.

 

Without this trust, development and change in children and young people is unlikely to be achieved.

 

MAKING NOTES AND REPORTS

 

Referring agencies usually require regular reports detailing the progress being made and plans for future work with children/Y.Ps.

 

It is usual and advisable to make notes following sessions. This ensures that future reports are comprehensive and that details are accurate.

 

Such notes can be hand written and retained as “hard copies” or as computer records.  It should be noted that the Data Protection Act 1998 may apply to any computer records.

 

When work with children/YP is concluded records should be retained in the Dandelions office.

 

It is important that reports from other agencies (e.g. referral forms, notes from Core Group meetings) are read by the relevant Engagement Worker.  Great care must be taken that information in these reports is not disclosed inappropriately.

 

Such reports should be retained in the Dandelions office and only removed if necessary, e.g. to attend a meeting.

 

Only in exceptional circumstances, with the prior agreement of a Partner, will files on children/Y.P. be taken outside the office and the Dandelions Counsellor/worker will be responsible for ensuring the security of the file and its contents.

 

 

ENGAGEMENT AGREEMENT

 

During an initial meeting with a child or Y.P. with whom we intend to engage, and their parents(s)/guardians, it should be made clear that sessions will be confidential whenever possible.

 

It should also be explained that we usually attend meetings with other professionals such as social workers, education staff and health professionals where issues, progress etc, will be discussed.  It is good practice to have a discussion with the child/Y.P. prior to such meetings, be honest about what we intend to say and ask if they wish us to make comment on their behalf.

 

A consent form must be signed by the Y.P. and the Parent/Guardian (with parental responsibility) so that information, if necessary, can be confidentially shared with other agencies. The Head Teacher may alternatively obtain consent from the parent or carer verbally or in writing.

 

DISCLOSING INFORMATION WITHOUT PERMISSION

 

Children, Y.P. and their parents/guardians, must be made aware that in certain (usually extreme) circumstances it may be necessary to disclose information or involve other agencies against their wishes.

 

Information will be shared (in accordance with Section 115 Crime and Disorder Act 1998) with other agencies regardless of consent if:

 

  • Abuse is disclosed.
  • The young person has committed an offence.
  • There is a risk of harm to the young person.
  • There is a risk of harm to others.

 

If a disclosure is considered in such circumstances the Engagement Worker must inform a Partner as soon as is practicably possible for guidance.

 

Dandelions staff are often faced with challenging issues and there may be occasions when an immediate decision is required regarding disclosure of information.

 

Such circumstances may occur, for instance, when a child or Y.P is:

 

  • At risk from immediate abuse
  • At risk from physical injury
  • Likely to cause themselves harm
  • Imminently likely to commit a serious offence

 

Engagement Workers and Counsellors should be confident that, having considered the circumstances, they are able to make a decision in the interests of the child or YP, other persons or the general public, to contact partner agencies such as social workers, health care professionals, or the Police.

 

In the event of such action the Engagement Worker must:

 

1.Ensure the decision is recorded.

 

2.Inform a Partner or suitable Supervisor as soon as possible.

 

3.Inform the referring agency, (e.g. social worker), if not subject of the initial report, as soon as possible.

 

4.Confirm with the agency to which the report has been made that the concerns have been noted and appropriate action has been taken.

 

5.Discuss the incident with the child or YP at the earliest opportunity.