Protecting the privacy of clients is very important. The following policies and procedures are designed to ensure that personal information about clients is kept confidential, and only disclosed with the client’s permission.
Privacy and Confidentiality in the Assessment Process
The initial assessment of a client and any follow-up or reviews should take place in the client’s home. If this is not possible it should take place in an area which provides privacy and confidentiality, e.g. an office area to which access is restricted.
The assessment and reviews will be between the staff member and the client and with the client’s consent and, if applicable, that of his/her legal guardian or advocate.
The staff member should note any particular privacy requirements of the client e.g. the preference for a male or female carer.
Privacy and Confidentiality of Information
Each person who uses the service has the same legal and human rights as the rest of the community. Sydney Community Services (SCS) policies and practices uphold the rights of people who use the service.
SCS recognises the rights of people who use the service to be safe. We actively work towards creating an environment that is safe and actively works to reduce the risks of any form of abuse, neglect or exploitation. We support people to manage risk in the activities they are involved in and their relationships with others.
SCS provides each person with information, training and support to understand and exercise their legal and human rights both within the service and in the broader community. This is presented in formats which are accessible to the person.
Clear guidelines are in place that supports staff to recognise and address risk factors and to develop practices which minimise abuse or neglect occurring.
SCS responds promptly and sensitively to allegations of abuse and provides support to the person to access medical, psychological and legal assistance. Service users are supported to make an allegation of discrimination or abuse if they wish to do so. SCS has procedures for managing an allegation of abuse and addressing the short and long-term issues that may lead to the abuse reoccurring.
SCS supports each person receiving a service to make decisions and choices in all aspects of their lives. People have the opportunity to develop and maintain control over all decisions affecting their lives.
Service users are offered supported opportunities to make decisions about the way SCS develops, provides its services and is reviewed.
Training is provided to staff on the importance of recognising and respecting the legal and human rights of people who use the service.
Training and information is provided to staff that ensures they are skilled in identifying and addressing risk factors and in responding effectively and proactively to allegations of abuse or assault.
Requests from other persons to access a client’s file must be referred to the General Manager for decision. These requests must be made in writing and include evidence of the person’s capacity to act as an authorised person (e.g. a legal guardian or power of attorney) or the client must give written permission for the person to act as an authorised person for the purposes of accessing information on the client’s file.
Rights and responsibilities of clients
SCS has a number of processes in place that enable staff, volunteers and students to uphold Privacy and Confidentiality requirements at all times.
- Collecting only information about clients that is relevant to the provision of support. We explain to clients why we collect the information and what we will use it for.
- Storing client files and other information securely.
- We have a Client Consent Form. We seek consent from clients to:
- Disclose personal information to other health service providers, as appropriate, to provide emergency care or services
- Provide access to client records to government officials (or their delegates) in the conduct of quality reviews or the investigation of complaints.
- Share information when it is necessary to ensure appropriate support is delivered and only with the client’s permission/consent beforehand
- Publish their photos and/or stories
- Information provided to government bodies regarding service provision does not identify the client.
- Consent to share personal information can be withdrawn at any time by the client. This request must be put in writing and retained in the client’s file.
- Clients can ask to see the information that we keep about them and are supported to access this information if requested.
- We do not discuss clients or their support with people not directly involved in supporting them.
- Clients have right to choose to be anonymous or use pseudonyms when dealing with us.Generally, members of the public will have the right to remain anonymous or adopt a pseudonym when dealing with SCS. However, in almost every circumstance it is not be practicable for SCS to deliver its services to people who choose to stay anonymous or use pseudonyms except for the most general responses to general enquiries.
- Client have a right to opt-out In relation to direct marketing. Distributing our fundamental information such as Programs and Newsletters to our clients and/ or their representatives falls outside of direct marketing and it is considered information provision essential to providing services our clients consented to. Be aware that this exemption does not apply to clients who cease to receive services form us, if you are to continue to send them the Programs and Newsletters.
- Assessments and reviews are always conducted in private, preferably in the client’s home, with the client and the staff performing the assessment, unless the client consents to their carer, advocate or other person being present. If this is not possible the assessment or review should take place in an area which provides privacy and confidentiality, for example an office area to which access is restricted.
- During client assessments the staff performing the assessment asks the client about any particular privacy requirements they have. These are noted on their assessment form and on the support plan
- Any discussions between staff about clients are held in a private space. Any references to individual clients in meeting minutes refer to the client by initials only or another unique identifier, such as their client number.
Click here to read the Charter of Care Recipients’ Rights and Responsibilities Home Care.
If you would like further information about the way we manage the personal information we holds, please contact the General Manager. If you have any concerns, complaints or you think there has been a breach of privacy, then also please contact the General Manager who will first deal with you usually over the phone. If we then have not dealt satisfactorily with your concerns we will meet with you to discuss further. If you are not satisfied with our response to your complaint then you can refer your complaint to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner via:
Tel: 1300 363 992
Fax: +61 2 9284 9666