- What is information sharing?
- Why is it important?
- Who is affected by information sharing?
- When can I share information?
- How can I share information safely?
Working with adults who have care and support needs often involves a range of agencies. Each agency will collect their own information, but to be effective and to ensure the best possible care for the adult concerned, agencies need to work together. This includes sharing information, where it is appropriate to do so.
Data protection laws state how information about people should be collected, stored and shared. This makes sure that when agencies collect and share information, they do it safely, securely and in a way which is transparent.
It is important that, as a worker, you feel confident about your responsibilities around sharing information.
Sharing information between agencies is important as it helps to improve outcomes and promote wellbeing for adults, by ensuring services are joined up and by reducing duplication.
It is also vital to keep adults and their families safe from harm. Any safeguarding concerns should be shared with the council’s adult social care department as a safeguarding referral. Do not assume someone else will pass on information which may be critical to keeping a vulnerable adult or a child safe.
There are three main groups of people affected by information sharing.
- First are adults who use services. They should be helped to understand why your service needs to collect and store information about them and why it might be needed to be shared with other agencies. They should also be asked to give their consent to this.
- Second are other agencies. They are vital to make sure that the care adults receive is coordinated and any risks are managed jointly.
- Third are safeguarding professionals. In some safeguarding situations you can share information with adult social care or the police without getting the consent of the person concerned. For example, where the concerns are urgent and getting consent might cause delay or where obtaining consent is not appropriate as it could possibly increase a risk of harm to the person you are worried about. Also, if a Safeguarding Adult Board requests information from an organisation, it must be provided.
Staff should use their professional judgement in each case to decide if sharing information is appropriate. Your line managers or safeguarding lead should be contacted for advice whenever needed. All decisions about sharing information should be clearly recorded in case records. This also includes decisions not to share information.
Information can be shared with other agencies when there is a clear and lawful reason for doing so. The adult will normally provide consent to their information being shared in this way (for example so providers know who are using their services). But if information needs to be shared to keep an adult, family member, child, member of the public or member of staff safe – getting the adult’s consent would not be necessary.
There are some key principles for good practice. These include the following:
- Being necessary and relevant – the right information needs to go to the right person to enable them to do their job effectively. It should be proportionate to the need and the level of risk.
- Being accurate and adequate – the difference between facts and opinions must be clear. When sharing information you should only share details which are necessary and relevant. You should not share all information you have on the adult with other agencies – only that which is needed for them for their role, for example the adult’s GP.
- Being timely and secure – sharing information promptly is particularly important, especially where there are safeguarding concerns. Do not delay sharing information which could help to keep a vulnerable adult or child safe. Where information is being shared with other agencies this should always be done securely, in line with your organisation’s policies and procedures.
- Being recorded, open and honest – it is important to always be open with people about information that will be shared and why it is necessary. Decisions to share information – and also not to share – should be documented in the person’s case records with the reasons why.