Confidentiality

You may find that when you are seeking information about the care of the person you are care for (lets say its a relative), you may be told that it can’t be provided because it’s confidential information.

This may happen because it may be that your relative does not want you to know details of their care and they have the right not to have that divulged. However you must be told this.

Normally healthcare staff cannot give carers significant new information about the service user unless the service user agrees.

It may be that the person you have asked for the information does not fully understand when to divulge information because they are not aware of how to deal with confidentiality. There may be other reasons.

Nottinghamshire Healthcare Trust has a Confidentiality Policy. See here. A summary of what it says may help you understand what the policy tries to ensure happens which is not to put barriers in the way of carers helping their relative. They tell you:

  • Why the Trust thinks it’s right for its staff to share information.
  • What information can be shared with you which is:

Carers are entitled to expect to:
• be able to communicate with staff
• be able to give information to staff and receive general information about health problems, treatments and medications
• be given advice on what information, help and support is available
• be given an explanation of why specific information can’t be shared
• be given advice on how to cope with stressful situations
• know who to contact in the Trust to express concern about the service user, especially in an emergency or out of hours

  • What ‘Good Practice’ the Trust has put in place to overcome these barriers.

WHAT YOU NEED TO DO

Look at the Trust policy. Talk to your relative about the benefit to you (in your caring role) and to them (in the support you can give them with problems they face) of agreeing to you being given information about their care at any time in their treatment. It would help if you wrote a letter to that effect which your relative agrees with the content and signs it. That would help to produce it if you are faced with a barrier to sharing information.

We can tell you that carers have found this of value to do.