Confidentiality Policy

The data covered by the confidentiality policy includes:

  • Information about the organisation that is not in the public domain
  • Information about other organisations that is not in the public domain
  • Information about individuals, for example volunteers, service users whether recorded electronically or in paper form.

All volunteers must respect the need for confidentiality of information held about anyone who comes into contact with SNN and about SNN business. This is expected to continue even when the contact had ceased with this person, and when the volunteer no longer volunteers for SNN.

This policy should be read in conjunction with the SNN Data Protection Policy.

Information about individuals:

  • SNN is committed to ensuring confidential services to all individuals. The confidentiality is between the individual and SNN, not the volunteers delivering a particular service
  • Confidential information will not be sought from a service user unless expressly in the interests of that service user i.e. to enable a better service delivery
  • Information will only be passed to another agency or to other individuals outside of SNN with the consent of the service user, where possible this will be with written consent. If a volunteer intends to get information from another agency to help the client or to refer them to another agency then this must be explained to the service user and their permission given
  • No personal information about volunteers or service users will be given to any third party including a member of their family, without the consent of the service user. Information will only be divulged on a ‘need to know’ basis
  • Information will be treated in confidence and will not be divulged to anyone outside SNN except where extenuating circumstances exist (see limits to service user confidentiality below). However, in order that we can provide the best possible help to our service users it may be necessary to share information with a member of the Management Committee or another volunteer within SNN.
  • All service users are entitled to privacy and will be made aware that they can specifically request to be seen in private
  • In no circumstances should details of a service user be discussed by anyone outside of SNN or in any open plan area in such a manner that it is possible to identify the service user
  • Volunteers should take due care and attention when speaking to service users and using the telephone. No service user should be able to hear a conversation or personal details of another service user.

Use of service user information for publicity, reporting or training purposes:

SNN does need to be able to give information where appropriate about the impact of our services.

If one of our services has an outcome which would prove useful material for publicity, reporting or training purposes, then wherever possible the permission of the client will be sought in writing before the story is told to anyone else. If permission cannot be obtained then any details that would enable identification of the service user to be made will be changed.

Limits to confidentiality:

In certain circumstances SNN reserves the right to break confidentiality should this be deemed necessary. These circumstances include:

  • If a volunteer believes that a service user could cause danger to themselves or others
  • If a volunteer suspects abuse or has knowledge of abuse
  • If a service user gives information which includes that a crime has been committed
  • If disclosure is required by law, for example, by the police
  • If a person is felt to lack the mental capacity to make a decision. In such cases volunteers will discuss with a SNN trustee and they will only act in the service user’s best interest
  • If the service user gives information which indicates a possible terrorist threat.

The decision on whether to break confidentiality will be decided on a case by case basis and always in conjunction with a SNN trustee.

Access to data:

  • This policy operates on a ‘need to know’ basis, no volunteer will have access to service users information unless it is relevant to the service or their work
  • All service users have the right to request access to all information stored about themselves, and has a right to see a copy of this confidentiality policy on request
  • If any person concerned has a physical or sensory impairment, efforts should be made to ensure that all aspects of this policy and exchanges between parties are understood
  • Significant breaches of this policy will be handled by SNN’s disciplinary procedures.

Evaluation and Monitoring:

  • All volunteers will be given a copy of this policy when they join SNN and will sign the confidentiality statement that they abide by the policy
  • SNN will ensure that all volunteers are trained in the application of this policy.

Policy Review

This policy will be reviewed at the first meeting of the incoming Management Committee each year. It will also be reviewed in response to changes in relevant legislation, contractual arrangements, good practice or in response to an identified failing in its effectiveness.

Date adopted and approved by the SNN Management Committee.

5th September 2016

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