Autonomy, privacy and confidentiality
When you commence working with a client it is important to inform yourself of any relevant information about your client that is already held within your organisation. It may be that this client is being transferred to you from another worker or they may have been a client a few years ago and have just recently recommenced their relationship with your organisation. Some of the ways you can gain this background information is to look at written records/ case plans as well as talking to significant people in the client’s life.
Written records/case plan
It is important to access information from a range of appropriate sources to determine the range of issues that may be affecting the client.
Most work with clients is recorded in some form. Written records/reports can be a major source of information for identifying clients’ needs. These may include:
- reports from staff in your own or other organisations
- rehabilitation services
A client’s existing case plan is an ideal place to start your work with the client. Case plans and other reports provide information about what support needs your client may have or was assessed to have.
A case plan will give important information about a client. It should contain details of:
- the family and family history
- possibly likes and dislikes
The case plan will have been developed by someone who has a detailed knowledge of the client and, in many cases the client will have been involved in its development. It may also contain strategies and ideas for addressing some of the immediate needs of the client as well as any legal requirements, for example when your client needs to go to court if they are involved in the juvenile justice system.
Looking at a case plan will give you some ideas about what supports need to be put in place or continued and what resources are required to make sure the support happens. It also contains information about any special needs the client may have. It is important to get a clear picture of these needs. An example of this could be where the young person has a physical disability and needs a wheelchair at times, or the young person may have special dietary requirements because of their cultural background. Issues such as these may impact on the types of support you introduce to the client.
Issues when referring to case plans and other written information
In referring to case plans and other written information, it is important to be aware of the potential limitations in this process. You will need to be very mindful of the following:
- date of the information
- accuracy of the information
- relevancy of the information
Talk to others involved
It is usually essential to talk to other stakeholders involved with your client when supporting them to resolve issues. However, it is important to involve the client in this process.
A Release of Information Form will need to be filled out by the client for you to proceed in accordance with The Privacy Amendment (Private Sector) Act 2000. It is essential to respect the person’s right to privacy and confidentiality.
‘Significant others’ is the term used in formal case plans and court reports to refer to those people who have involvement with the client now or have done so in the past. A significant other can be a parent, sibling, teacher, previous worker, probation officer, foster carer or social worker. It is important to communicate with these people to assist in establishing a clear picture about the needs of the client and about what types of support resources your client will need.
It is important that you identify who else may be working with your client. If you need to discuss your client’s needs with other workers make sure you have the client’s permission to do so.