Councils asked to ‘guarantee’ social care records for users

Local authorities will be asked to make a “guarantee” to social care service users about how information about them will be held and shared as part of new guidance launched today.

The Social Care Record Guarantee will establish standards for what should be included within children’s and adults’ social care records, and how they should be used and shared by local authorities in England.

The National Information and Governance Board for Health and Social Care, which is responsible for the guarantee, hopes it will allow professionals to be confident in sharing information with other agencies.

Commitments to service users

Local authorities adopting the guidance will make several commitments to service users:-
• To share with users what personal information is held on them, except confidential information on other people or information that may cause harm.
• To provide information to those providing care to the user or checking its quality, with the user’s permission.
• Not to share information which identifies the person without consent or unless the council has to by law or to prevent risk to another person.
• To let users know when information has been shared without their consent as soon as possible

The guarantee is based upon a similar document which has been operating in the NHS since 2007, and is designed to work in tandem with the health record so similar standards operate in both sectors. 

‘No more burdens for social workers’

NIGB chair Harry Cayton said that he did not expect the new rules to prove an extra burden for social workers and that it would mostly be a case of notifying clients that their records would be shared.

He said: “It doesn’t take more than a few seconds of anyone’s time to do what good social workers do invariably.”

He claimed that the document has been made highly readable allowing many service users to understand it for themselves.

Electronic records

The document also stressed that councils were working to ensure records are held electronically, and that these would be held securely, maintaining confidentiality.

The guarantee, which was drafted last June, was due to be published in late September but was held over until this week’s National Children and Adult Services Conference in Harrogate to allow for full consultation with stakeholders.

“We wanted to be sure that all the key users are happy,” said Cayton.

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