Introduction - Adult safeguarding: sharing information
This guide is part of a range of products to support implementation of the adult safeguarding aspects of the Care Act 2014. Sharing the right information, at the right time, with the right people, is fundamental to good practice in safeguarding adults but has been highlighted as a difficult area of practice.
Frontline staff and volunteers should always report safeguarding concerns in line with their organisation’s policy. Policies should be clear about how confidential information should be shared between departments in the same organisation. Effectiveness should be monitored and any internal communication problems resolved.
This guide focuses on the sharing of sensitive or personal information between the local authority and its safeguarding partners (including GPs and health, the police, service providers, housing, regulators and the Office of the Public Guardian) for safeguarding purposes. This may include information about individuals who are at risk, service providers or those who may pose a risk to others. It aims to enable partners to share information appropriately and lawfully in order to improve the speed and quality of safeguarding responses.
The Care Act emphasises the need to empower people, to balance choice and control for individuals against preventing harm and reducing risk, and to respond proportionately to safeguarding concerns. The Act deals with the role of the safeguarding adults board (SAB) in sharing strategic information to improve local safeguarding practice. Section 45 ‘the supply of information’ covers the responsibilities of others to comply with requests for information from the safeguarding adults board.
Sharing information between organisations as part of day-to-day safeguarding practice is already covered in the common law duty of confidentiality, the Data Protection Act, the Human Rights Act and the Crime and Disorder Act. The Mental Capacity Act is also relevant as all those coming into contact with adults with care and support needs should be able to assess whether someone has the mental capacity to make a decision concerning risk, safety or sharing information. This guide summarises key parts of these laws to help increase understanding of the basic principles in relation to safeguarding practice and, in particular, the sharing of safeguarding information.
This guide will be useful to frontline workers and managers from a range of sectors who work with people with care and support needs.
Why do we need to share adult safeguarding information?
Organisations need to share safeguarding information with the right people at the right time to:
- prevent death or serious harm
- coordinate effective and efficient responses
- enable early interventions to prevent the escalation of risk
- prevent abuse and harm that may increase the need for care and support
- maintain and improve good practice in safeguarding adults
- reveal patterns of abuse that were previously undetected and that could identify others at risk of abuse
- identify low-level concerns that may reveal people at risk of abuse
- help people to access the right kind of support to reduce risk and promote wellbeing
- help identify people who may pose a risk to others and, where possible, work to reduce offending behaviour
- reduce organisational risk and protect reputation.