Introduction

The Moira Anderson Foundation (MAF) is committed to helping children/young people/adults with problems by the provision of confidential advice and information, both in person and by telephone or letter or email.

MAF values diversity and we believe that equality for all is a basic human right. All our policies are created to prevent unlawful and unfair discrimination on the basis of a protected characteristic as defined in the Equality Act (2010) as race, disability, age, sexual orientation, sex, gender reassignment, Marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, and religion and belief.

Confidentiality Policy

  • MAF is not a statutory agency, and staff have no legal obligation to report criminal conduct to the police or other statutory authorities. The only exception is, in common with the general population, the legal duty to report to the police information connected with terrorist offences or some road traffic accidents.
  • Employers and volunteers may also be required to disclose information given in confidence if cited as a witness in court, or obliged to give a precognition under oath.
  • Apart from these legal requirements, confidentiality should only be breached when the child/young person/adult are perceived to be in a dangerous/life threatening situation or is likely to be a serious danger to others. Also, if child protection issues are raised regarding a child. In these conditions and circumstances, MAF will contact a third party

Procedures For Breach Of Confidentiality

  • If an employee, volunteer or therapist considers that circumstances exist which may indicate a need for confidentiality to be breached, they should:
  • Seek permission from the child/young person/adult to refer them to the appropriate agency
  • If the child/young person/adult refuses permission, consult the senior worker on duty and tell the child/young person/adult that there is a consultation, but that the worker will not pass the information onto an outside agency without first telling the child/young person/adult.
  • Decide with the Director of the Centre whether confidentiality should be breached and advise the child/young person/adult of the decision.
  • If the Director of the Centre is unsure whether to breach confidentiality, the worker should consult a named Trustee of the Board for advice and guidance. The decision would then rest with the Trustee.

Unauthorised Breaches Of Confidentiality

  • Breach of MAF’s confidentiality policy will be regarded as gross misconduct and may lead to dismissal.

Use Of Information For Case Studies For Training And Publicity

  • Care should be taken to avoid identifying the person concerned. In some cases, changing details of age and sex, and some of the surrounding circumstances, will be sufficient.
  • Some cases will rest on such exceptional circumstances that identification may be difficult to avoid. Such cases should not be used for case studies without the consent of the person whose confidentiality may be breached.
  • All case studies based on actual cases should be vetted by the Director before presentation. All presentations of case studies should be qualified by a statement that “details have been changed to preserve confidentiality”.

Returning Phonecalls And Letters

  • Where possible, the wishes regarding modes of communication should be ascertained and noted. In some cases, a young person/adult may phone or write without having considered the possibility that a return phone call or letter may lead to discovery of their enquiry.
  • Care should be taken in leaving telephone messages with anyone other than the enquirer, and with leaving messages on telephone answering machines. If a message HAS to be left, avoid giving details of the agency or the enquiry
  • The same applies to letters which should be sent in domestic style – hand-written envelopes – and contain the minimum details, unless it is clear that it is all right to give a full reply in this way.

Communication Of Policy To Children And Young People

  • A copy of the policy statement should be displayed on the notice board.
  • Children/young people/adults regularly attending MAF should be made aware of the policy and offered a copy of a short version of this policy. It is important that children and young people are not dissuaded from discussing their problems by a formal recitation of the policy by the employee or volunteer.
  • However, if a young person asks about confidentiality, or appears about to disclose something that may be significant, the employees or volunteers should sensitively and appropriately let the child/young person/adult know that most matters will be treated in confidence, but there are some extreme circumstances in which confidentiality may be breached. All employees and volunteers will receive practical training on this matter as part of their induction course.

Dangerous/Life Threatening Situations

  • A situation is deemed to be dangerous or life threatening if:
  • The child/young person/adult is now physically so damaged that immediate medical treatment is necessary
  • There are indications of a real danger of severe physical damage or death if a child/young person/adult returns to an abuse situation
  • There is evidence that a telephone call has been interrupted by an adult or other intending to kill or severely harm the caller
  • The child/young person/adult is threatening suicide or appears to have already attempted suicide. ALL suicide threats should be taken seriously, and not assumed to be “attention seeking”
  • The child/young person/adult is threatening to kill or severely harm another individual
  • MAF feels strongly that the child/young person/adult may be in serious danger, but hasn’t enough information to make adequate assessments
  • The child/young person/adult gives information which leads the staff member/ volunteer/therapist to think that there are child protection issues for a child