Explain the Importance of Sharing Information with the Relevant Agencies
Good record keeping is an essential part of good practice. Information recorded should be relevant, factual and legible. Information might need to be shared with other agencies to keep an individual safe and free from harm.
Why it is important to share information with relevant agencies
Information sharing is vital to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, young people and adults.
- The decisions about how much information to share, with whom and when, can have a profound impact on individuals’ lives.
- It could ensure that an individual receives the right services at the right time.
- It can prevent any identified needs from becoming more acute and difficult to meet.
- It could be the difference between life and death. Poor or non-existent information sharing is a factor repeatedly flagged up as an issue in Serious Case Reviews.
- Individuals in receipt of care are vulnerable and therefore at heightened risk from being sexually exploited for money, power or status.
- Where there are concerns about the safety of an adult/child, the sharing of information in a timely and effective manner between organisations can reduce the risk of harm.
Use to answer question 10.4b of the Care Certificate
The Seven Golden Rules for Sharing Information
1.Remember that the Data Protection Act 1998 and human rights law are not barriers to justified information sharing, but provide a framework to ensure that personal information about living individuals is shared appropriately.
2.Be open and honest with the individual (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.
3.Seek advice from other practitioners if you are in any doubt about sharing the information concerned, without disclosing the identity of the individual where possible.
4.Share with informed 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, there is good reason to do so, such as where safety may be at risk. You will need to base your judgement on the facts of the case. When you are sharing or requesting personal information from someone, be certain of the basis upon which you are doing so. Where you have consent, be mindful that an individual might not expect information to be shared.
5.Consider safety and well-being: Base your information sharing decisions on considerations of the safety and well-being of the individual and others who may be affected by their actions.
6.Necessary, proportionate, relevant, adequate, 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 individuals who need to have it, is accurate and up-to-date, is shared in a timely fashion, and is shared securely (see principles).
7.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.
Necessary and proportionate
When taking decisions about what information to share, you should consider how much information you need to release. The Data Protection Act 1998 requires you to consider the impact of disclosing information on the information subject and any third parties. Any information shared must be proportionate to the need and level of risk.
Only information that is relevant to the purposes should be shared with those who need it. This allows others to do their job effectively and make sound decisions.
Information should be adequate for its purpose. Information should be of the right quality to ensure that it can be understood and relied upon.
Information should be accurate and up to date and should clearly distinguish between fact and opinion. If the information is historical then this should be explained.
Information should be shared in a timely fashion to reduce the risk of harm. Timeliness is key in emergency situations and it may not be appropriate to seek consent for information sharing if it could cause delays and therefore harm to a child. Practitioners should ensure that sufficient information is shared, as well as consider the urgency with which to share it.
Wherever possible, information should be shared in an appropriate, secure way. Practitioners must always follow their organisation’s policy on security for handling personal information.
Information sharing decisions should be recorded whether or not the decision is taken to share. If the decision is to share, reasons should be cited including what information has been shared and with whom, in line with organisational procedures. If the decision is not to share, it is good practice to record the reasons for this decision and discuss them with the requester. In line with each organisation’s own retention policy, the information should not be kept any longer than is necessary. In some circumstances this may be indefinitely, but if this is the case there should be a review process.