Key points about information sharing:
Be open and honest with the family you are working with - talk about what you are wanting to share and why, getting their agreement (consent) to share the information. The only time you should not do this is if letting them know will leave someone at risk of harm.
- Respect the family's wishes. If they do not want the information shared you do not share it, unless someone is at risk of significant harm.
- You are not alone in making these decisions - speak to your manager for advice. You can also have informal discussions with Children's Services (by which we mean talking about your concerns but not giving any information that would identify family members).
- When sharing information make sure it is up to date and accurate and only shared with those who need to know.
- Make sure that only necessary information is shared - just because you are sharing information does not mean that everyone needs to know everything.
- Make sure that you record whether you shared information or not and reasons for your decision.
Remember that the Data Protection Act is not a barrier to sharing information but provides a framework to ensure that personal information is shared appropriately.
The decision to share information should be proportionate ...
The word proportionate is rather jargonistic but it explains a very helpful concept. It accepts that the decision about sharing information is not a simple 'yes' or 'no' decision but depends upon a number of factors.
- How at risk is the young person?
- Is the risk imminent?
- How much safer will the young person be if the information is shared?
- Will the relationship between professionals and the family be so damaged by sharing information against their wishes that it may be better to not share? Is everyone safe from harm if this is the case?
- Does the information need to be shared now? Could it wait until the family have changed their mind about agreement?
Sometimes you may not be able to answer the questions above. In this case it is best to speak to your manager or a colleague and discuss the situation with them.
Although there is a lot of guidance about sharing information there is very little about communication; the process by which information is shared. The following tips, adapted from the Common Core of Skills and Knowledge are very helpful.
- Communicate effectively by listening and ensuring that you are being listened to
- Make sure you all understand professional terms and abbreviations such as acronyms in the same way
- Be able to use clear language
- Check your understanding
- Be aware that inference or interpretation can result in a difference between what is said and what is understood.
What does research tell us?
The right to a private life can be legitimately interfered with where it is in accordance with the law and, for example, is necessary for the prevention of crime or disorder, for public safety or for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. You need to consider the pressing social need and whether sharing the information is a proportionate response to this need and whether these considerations can override the individual's right to privacy. If a child or young person is at risk of serious harm, or sharing is necessary to prevent crime or disorder, breach of the child or young person's right would probably be justified under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act.
|This page was added to the website on 2 July 2015|
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