The rights of service users when accessing services is what service users are entitled to when using the service. The care value base is a set of guidelines that all organisations in health and social care professionals have to follow that promotes service users rights and ensures they are met. Care values are regulations on how the service worker should treat service users. There are five different care values: - Promoting Anti-Discriminatory practice. -Maintaining confidentiality of information.
-Respect and acknowledging individual choice, culture, Identity and beliefs. -Promoting effective communication and relationships.
Confidentiality is ensuring service users private information is only accessible on a need to know basis and is protected from those who are not authorised to view the private information. It also means not revealing private or personal information. It is used to force a barrier on personal information and how and to whom it may be disclosed to. It is especially important in Health and Social care organizations as many service users disclose personal data to health and social care professionals and reasonably expects their information to be kept private, such as in a relationship of trust. Trust in a service user/worker is important, as a service user would be unwilling to reveal personal information. Fulford (2001) agrees that confidentiality is a function of relationships. Confidentiality is also vital to maintain the rights of service users as it helps to avoid identity theft.
Many legal rights for service users are linked to confidentiality. For example, the Data Protection Act (1998) ensures and protects every individual’s right to privacy. The Data Protection Act (1998) is an act of parliament which ensures every individual in the UK has the right to the protection and safekeeping of personal information, facts or statistics. The law ensures that all service users data is used fairly and lawfully, is accurate, kept safe and secure and for no longer than absolutely necessary.
When confidentiality is broken in positive care environments, the organization and service workers involved often face criticisms and repercussions for their actions. An example of confidentiality being broken is on the 21st May 2012, a London hospital sent service users’ personal data including diagnoses, addresses and names of over 50 patients to a member of the public. The healthcare organisation agrees that patients have the right for their data to be kept safe, but unfortunately in this case the organisation failed to do so. The organisation has strict procedures in place when confidentiality is broken and the organization is facing a £90,000 of lawsuits and many service workers are undergoing an internal investigation. The organization has formally apologized to the service users involved. In addition changes have been made to the organizations confidentiality procedure to ensure service users’ rights are ensured. However there are times confidentiality can be countered.
-When there is reason to believe and evidence to support that a service user’s well-being is at risk. -With the service users consent
-On a need to know basis.
When a service worker has reason to believe that the service users’ well-being is a risk they are allowed to counter confidentiality. An example of this is when a service worker being interviewed for a documentary ‘Junior Doctors – Your life in their hands’ had to treat a service worker in early childhood with a deep laceration to her shin and many other old bruises and lacerations to her body. When asked, the parents were reluctant to disclose any information on how the child obtained the injuries. Later, the child informed the service worker their parents were abusing them but she didn’t want anyone to know. The service worker made the informed decision that the child’s welfare was in danger and went on to speak to her senior practitioner about the case. In this case, the service worker has the right to break confidentiality as there was disclosure and evidence of physical and serious emotional abuse or neglect.
Consent is permission for something to happen or agreement to do something. In the case of confidentiality it is the service users right to decline or accept for data or information to be disclosed to another person. Consent may be given orally, where it must be recorded in the appropriate way, written or implied. The Oxford Handbook of Occupational Health defines implied consent as ‘only being used in obvious circumstances, such as a patient holding their arm out for the taking of a previously explain blood specimen’. In the case of confidentiality, consent is normally written or spoken orally. Consent cannot be contested, and the service worker must respect the service user’s choice so they don’t breech the ethical duty and deny the service user of the right to make their own decision as long as they are mentally capable as stated in the ‘Mental Capacity Act’ (2005). In the case that a service worker does not think the service user has the right mental capacity to make an informed decision to/not consent