HG Ireland operates on the basis that all users of its service have a right to expect a confidential service. Whilst recognising that the effective maintenance of confidentiality for all service users is a complex and delicate activity, the organisation is committed to providing a safe space for women to work on their experiences of pregnancy sickness and HG and it sees the provision of a confidential service as an integral part of this.
This policy will be shared with all new services users via The HG Ireland website.
Confidentiality refers to our duty not to reveal to any external organisation or individual outside HG Ireland any information relating to another person, which has been given to us in trust. It is important to maintain confidentiality and to ensure that women using our organisation, and where appropriate members of other agencies and the general public, are aware that we have such a policy.
HG Ireland recognises that there exists a fine line between confidentiality and secrecy (within the bounds of confidentiality) and acknowledges the need of volunteers, staff and trustees to seek support and share information within appropriate and recognised forums.
Service Users Rights
HG Ireland record information about women who use our services both on paper and electronically which is stored securely as specified under the Data Protection Act 1998. We inform service users about our procedures for recording, storing and sharing personal data and obtaining explicit consent where data is sensitive (health/criminal records).
Helpline: - Helpline emails are answered during office hours by the support coordinator in the HG Ireland private office. Any personal information left i.e. name, telephone number etc. may be recorded for further use but will be stored under the Data Protection Act 1998. Caller display equipment is not used to preserve caller confidentiality. HG Ireland do not record active helpline calls even for training purposes.
Contact with third party individuals and other organisations
Information, which is given to us by a service user, will not be discussed with any other person without the express consent of the service user concerned through the completion of a confidentiality release form or verbally followed by the completion of this form.
Information about a service user, which is given to us by another individual or organisation, will be treated in the same way.
Voluntary supporter and staff responsibilities
When working with service users, staff and volunteer supporters need to clarify that the responsibility for keeping confidentiality lies within the agency as a whole and is not the sole responsibility of an individual member of the organisation. Service Users therefore need to be made aware that their situation is likely to be discussed in support and supervision activities for the purpose of providing support to voluntary supporters and staff and therefore providing the best possible service to service users.
EXCEPTIONS TO MAINTAINING CONFIDENTIALITY
Confidentiality cannot be maintained in the following circumstances: -
If a service user discloses information about a terrorist plan, there is a legal requirement to disclose to the Police.
If a service user informs a volunteer/member of staff of their decision to kill or seriously injure another person this must be disclosed to the Police.
If a service user talks of known on-going abuse of a named child she must be encouraged to disclose, if she will not then HG Ireland will disclose information to safeguarding services.
If a service user discloses abuse of a vulnerable adult it will necessary to pass this information on to safeguarding services.
If HG Ireland believes someone is going to commit suicide.
In these exceptional circumstances, where there is a need to consider breaking confidentiality, all decisions regarding appropriate action will be taken appropriately by the Support Coordinator, Chair and Trustees in consultation with volunteers. Decisions about whether to break or maintain confidentiality in such situations are not the responsibility of any single individual.
If, after careful consideration, the organisation decides that it is necessary to contact external agencies HG Ireland will: -
Seek to maintain the trust of the service user, in all cases.
Whenever possible inform the service user of the intended action and provide specific reasons for that decision.
Reassure the service user that she will be supported and that you will keep her informed as much as you are able to do so. However, you cannot control the actions of other agencies, nor can you guarantee that they will keep her informed.
Limit the disclosure, both in content, to what is required in the situation.
Make a written record of what has been done, when and by whom.
Volunteer Supporters and Staff Rights
Recruitment and Selection
Within recruitment and selection procedures for voluntary supporters and staff HG Ireland commits to maintain secure and confidential personnel records (application forms, references, DBS checks etc)
Any requests from external agencies and individuals for information about staff and voluntary supporters should be referred to the Support Coordinator. Information will only be shared with external individuals and agencies in strictly limited circumstances and taking into account the needs of the organisation and the individual concerned.
There will always be certain information, generally of a personal nature, which in the interests of fairness to the employee and good employment practice, should not be disclosed to anyone other than the employee concerned and the Board of Trustees. The Board has the final say in determining which information may be disclosed – bearing in mind the needs of the employee and the membership.
The Board of Trustees may from time to time be required to discuss employment matters in the absence of employees. Decisions, which are taken, must be reported to those concerned and carefully recorded but should not include personal details.
From time to time it may be necessary to employ an external facilitator where issues of conflict arise between staff and board of trustees. It is the Board’s responsibility to ensure that such a facilitator is bound by this confidentiality policy.
Support and Supervision
All voluntary supporters and staff receiving support and supervision in HG Ireland are entitled to a sensitive use of information, which they share in these activities.
It is the responsibility of the woman receiving support to identify when she would want information to be kept confidential between herself and the Support Coordinator/Chair or other woman providing support or supervision. In the majority of situations it is likely that there will be not be great difficulties for women reaching agreement about keeping certain information confidential between them.
Where immediate agreement on what can be kept confidential cannot be reached both women will agree to give further consideration to the request whilst maintaining confidentiality for the interim period until agreement can be reached.
In the event that they are still not able to reach agreement after further consideration a third party should be brought in to help reach an agreement.
The ground rules used for internal training events include a statement on confidentiality. It may be helpful and necessary to clarify the boundary to use information shared at each of these training events to protect the rights of volunteer supporters, staff and service users.
Where training is being provided by an organisation or individual who is not part of HG Ireland the issue of confidentiality will be discussed with the Trainer(s) prior to the employing them to do the training. They will also be given a copy of our confidentiality policy and the opportunity to discuss it in connection with the training they are to provide.
Organisational Needs and Activities
Staff, volunteer supporters and Trustees in all activities, which form part of the organisations work, will apply the principles and procedures in this policy. These include; helpline and support work with users, promotional and publicity activities, support and supervision activities and internal and external training events.
This policy will be made available on request or where necessary to organisations HG Ireland is in contact with in its work.
This policy will be reviewed and amended in line with the organisations changing practice and needs.