Sharing the right information, at the right time and with the relevant agencies is fundamental to good practice in safeguarding adults. Staff from all agencies working with adults that may be at risk are required to report concerns in line with their agencv policy.
Why is it important?
Sharing safeguarding information with the right people at the right time is important for the following reasons:
- prevention of death or serious harm
- coordinate effective and efficient responses
- enable early interventions to prevent the escalation of risk
- prevent abuse and harm that may increase the need for care and support
- maintain and improve good practice in safeguarding adults
- reveal patterns of abuse that were previously undetected and that could identify others at risk of abuse
- identify low-level concerns that may reveal people at risk of abuse
- help people to access the right kind of support to reduce risk and promote wellbeing
- help identify people who may pose a risk to others and, where possible, work to reduce offending behaviour
- reduce organisational risk and protect reputation.
There are seven ‘golden’ rules for information sharing:
- Remember that the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is not a barrier to sharing information but provides a framework to ensure that personal information about living persons is shared appropriately.
- Be open and honest with the person (and/or their family where appropriate) from the outset about why, what, how and with whom information will, or could be, shared, and seek their agreement, unless it is unsafe or inappropriate to do so.
- Seek advice if you are in any doubt, without disclosing the identity of the person where possible.
- Share with consent where appropriate and, where possible, respect the wishes of those who do not consent to share confidential information. You may still share information without consent if, in your judgement, that lack of consent can be overridden in the public interest. You will need to base your judgement on the facts of the case.
- Consider safety and wellbeing: base your information-sharing decisions on considerations of the safety and wellbeing of the person and others who may be affected by their actions.
- Necessary, proportionate, relevant, accurate, timely and secure: ensure that the information you share is necessary for the purpose for which you are sharing it, is shared only with those people who need to have it, is accurate and up to date, is shared in a timely fashion, and is shared securely.
- Keep a record of your decision and the reasons for it – whether it is to share information or not. If you decide to share, then record what you have shared, with whom and for what purpose.
Key points to note are listed below.
- Adults have a general right to independence, choice and self-determination including control over information about themselves. In the context of adult safeguarding these rights can be overridden in certain circumstances.
- Emergency or life-threatening situations may warrant the sharing of relevant information with the relevant emergency services without consent.
- The law does not prevent the sharing of sensitive, personal information within organisations. If the information is confidential, but there is a safeguarding concern, sharing it may be justified.
- The law does not prevent the sharing of sensitive, personal information between organisations where the public interest served outweighs the public interest served by protecting confidentiality – for example, where a serious crime may be prevented.
- Information can be shared lawfully within the parameters of the Data Protection Act 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
- There should be a local agreement or protocol in place setting out the processes and principles for sharing information between organisations.
- An individual employee cannot give a personal assurance of confidentiality.
- Frontline staff and volunteers should always report safeguarding concerns in line with their organisation’s policy – this is usually to their line manager in the first instance except in emergency situations.
- It is good practice to try to gain the person’s consent to share information.
- As long as it does not increase risk, practitioners should inform the person if they need to share their information without consent.
- Organisational policies should have clear routes for escalation where a member of staff feels a manager has not responded appropriately to a safeguarding concern.
- All organisations must have a whistleblowing policy.
- The management interests of an organisation should not override the need to share information to safeguard adults at risk of abuse.
- All staff, in all partner agencies, should understand the importance of sharing safeguarding information and the potential risks of not sharing it.
- All staff should understand who safeguarding applies to and how to report a concern.
- The six safeguarding principles should underpin all safeguarding practice, including information-sharing.
More Information and Guidance
Find out more about safeguarding adults through sharing information on the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) website.