Homepage Latest news New guidance published on carers and confidentiality

New guidance published on carers and confidentiality

Publication date: 5 Dec, 2018

The Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland has today released a new good practice guide to help carers, families, and practitioners understand consent, confidentiality, and sharing of information for people with mental illness, dementia, learning disability, or other related conditions.

The publication provides advice to doctors and nurses on how to respect patient confidentiality while also involving families and carers in treatment.

The document also provides guidance on issues relating to capacity to make decisions around confidentiality, sharing information with carers that does not breach confidentiality, and the limited exceptional circumstances where breaking confidentiality may be necessary.

Kate Fearnley, Executive Director (Engagement & Participation) at the Commission, said:

"We hope that our new guidance on carers and confidentiality will be helpful, both to families who want to do what they can to help, and to practitioners, who can sometimes find themselves in difficult situations around what information they can share.

"Whether or not an individual is happy for some information to be shared, families and carers have a hugely important role to play. They can provide invaluable insight about their loved ones, shedding more light on their history and background. Nurses, doctors, and social workers should involve carers and relatives as much as possible, and listen to them.

"Practitioners should always discuss with patients whether there is specific information that can be shared. Even when someone doesn't want personal information shared with their carer, practitioners can still provide general information about a diagnosis or condition without breaching confidentiality.

"Best practice involves a dialogue between all parties involved in a person's care, and confidentiality doesn't have to be a barrier to that."

The Commission produces good practice guides across a wide range of mental health topics. Among these is Rights in Mind, a guide to patient rights throughout all stages of mental health treatment. The full range is available on the Commission's website.

Notes to Editors:

In this guide we use the term 'carer' to mean family and friends who provide unpaid support to a relative, partner or friend. We use the term 'individual' to mean someone who has a mental illness, dementia, learning disability, autism, personality disorder, or a related condition. We also use the term 'relative' to include partner and friend.


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