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A guide for carers, family and friends
This leaflet provides advice and guidance to carers, family and friends on how information can be shared by Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (HPFT).
When we talk about carers, we mean people who provide support to someone who is using one of our services who may not be able to manage without that support. You may not think of yourself as a carer so it is important we make you aware of the support that is available to you. You might be a partner, husband, wife, sibling, parent, friend or neighbour.
We recognise that, if you are supporting a friend or family member, the sharing of information between staff and yourself can be vital to the care and treatment of your friend or relative.
Information about care plans and medication, and advice on managing a crisis, may help you to deal with difficult situations until other assistance is available.
The provision of high quality care should be a partnership between service users, carers, families and professional care staff. Sometimes there can be difficulties in relation to confidentiality and sharing information. When a service user wishes to withhold information then these wishes must be respected by professional staff. It is essential that you are informed of this. Staff should aim to ensure that you receive as much information as possible to help you in your caring role.
‘Lack of consent from a service user does not preclude discussion and appropriate and helpful sharing of general non personal information. Every effort should be made by staff to support carers in their caring role, and they should be supported and encouraged to discuss and resolve any concerns or difficulties for them as a carer.’ – HPFT Carer Practice Policy.
As an area of good practice staff will:
Issues around confidentiality should not be used as a reason for not listening to you or for not discussing fully with service users the need for you to receive information so that you can continue to support them. You should be given enough information in a way that you can readily understand to help you provide care.
Even when the service user continues to withhold consent, you should be given enough information to enable you to provide care for them from an early stage. You should be given the opportunity to discuss any difficulties you are experiencing in your caring role with the care coordinator.
The provision of general information about mental illness, emotional and practical support does not breach confidentiality. Neither does discussion about facts (e.g. diagnosis or medication prescribed) of which the carer is already aware.
General information can include:
The Trust has worked with carers and staff over recent years to develop a pathway for carers through HPFT services to help improve people’s experience. Through this we encourage services to:
More information is available at www.hpft.nhs.uk/carers – This is a work in progress but is important that we make continuous improvements.
The pathway also links to the six points of the triangle of care, a model for good carer support:
The following checklist has been taken from the ‘Carers and confidentiality in Mental Health’ leaflet produced by the Partners in Care campaign and published by the Royal College of psychiatrists www.rcpsych.ac.uk It has been designed to assist closer working between staff and carers with the boundaries of current legislation and to help carers understand their rights.
Where possible, carers are given general factual information, both verbal and written about;
Carers are helped to understand;
Carers are given;
If you have any questions about the content of this booklet please speak to the team supporting you or contact the Carer Development Worker at 01727 804418