Explain the meaning of the term confidentiality
Confidentiality refers to the need to handle personal and private information in ways that are appropriate, safe and professional and meet legal requirements. There are three main reasons why confidentiality is an important issue in a health and social care setting.
The relationships you build with service users and their families are central to your care role. If you share their personal information with others who have no need or right to know you risk breaking their trust in you. Individuals also need to know there are secure systems and procedures operating in the care setting to protect confidential information.
Some information must be kept confidential for safety reasons. For example, some service users are categorised as vulnerable adults, such as a person with special needs whose whereabouts might need to be protected from a relative who abused them in some way in the past.
It is a legal requirement for organisations to manage and safeguard
personal information correctly.
Describe the potential tension between maintaining an individual’s confidentiality and disclosing concerns
There are some situations when confidentiality needs to be breached to report information to a higher authority. The disclosure of private and personal information should only take place when:
▶ withholding the information is likely to threaten the safety and wellbeing of others
▶ a crime has been, or is likely to be committed.
It is my responsibility to check the policy and procedure at my place of work about disclosure of confidential information, in order to be clear about how to act and who to contact should the need arise. Speak to a senior person within or outside of my work setting who is able to act on the information appropriately. It is a mistake to think this is only a matter for senior care staff, because it is common for service users to prefer to confide in a junior