Strathclyde Students' Union Advice Hub – Confidentiality Policy
Managing the Confidentiality Policy
Strathclyde Students' Union (Strath Union) Advice Hub is committed to providing a confidential service to its clients.
This policy will be reviewed annually and any amendments agreed by the Executive Officers. Copies will be available on request. Advice Hub staff will be responsible for ensuring the current policy is held on the shared drive and for the destruction of previous copies.
Conduct of the Advice Process
Advice Hub employees will not confirm a client’s attendance to the service without their expressed consent to do so.
Clients will be offered a confidential interview space.
Advice Hub employees may discuss cases between themselves but will ensure that no discussions which could identify clients of the service take place outside of the service or its staff. All statistical recording shall be anonymous.
Case files including case notes, copies of correspondence and calculation sheets will be held in lockable offices or password protected computer drives. Until December 2017, we maintained case notes and information on Caseworker Connect, a secure online casework recording system. As of January 2018, we transferred to Advice Pro.
Documentation will be kept in a secure archive for a maximum of six years after which time it will be destroyed using appropriate confidential waste procedures in line with Data Protection legislation.
Staff will clarify with clients their preferences in terms of contact and will record on the case file where clients have indicated that certain forms of contact are insecure or unacceptable.
When leaving voice messages for client’s staff will not identify themselves as working for an advice service.
Where clients request that no contact be made with certain parties this will be recorded and adhered to.
Where it becomes apparent that the client is committing or has committed crime the adviser will warn the client of the implications of their actions, bring the interview to an end and refuse to give further advice on this matter. If such a situation arises, it must be treated with utmost seriousness and consultation with Strath Union Senior Management will be sought at the earliest opportunity.
The Advice Hub understands confidentiality to mean that no information regarding a client shall be given directly or indirectly to a third party without the client’s expressed consent except in the following cases:
- Conflict of Interest
Where the Advice Hub identifies a potential conflict of interest which necessitates informing one party that we can no longer act on their behalf this may draw attention to the fact that we are already acting on behalf of another party. In these circumstances the compromised party will be informed of the breach and no further action will be disclosed.
- Where required to by Act of Parliament.
- Where required to by order of a Court of Law.
- Where an adviser believes there to be a substantial threat to life, either of the client or another person.
Where an adviser believes that there may be a need to breach confidentiality deliberately they should inform the client then raise the matter with the Student Involvement Manager. In their absence, the matter should be raised with the Chief Executive Officer.
The Student Involvement Manager will explore the issues with the adviser and decide on whether confidentiality should be breached. A written record of the discussion and decision will be placed on the case file.
Where the decision is to breach confidentiality, a full briefing will be referred to either the Strath Union President or Vice President Support who will seek support in their decision from the Chief Executive Officer. Where the Chief Executive Officer has been involved in the earlier decision they will see advice from an External Trustee. The elected officer’s decision will be final and a full written report will be added to the case file.
Awareness of Policy
All members of staff at Strathclyde Students' Union Advice Hub will be made aware of this policy through their induction and training.
All Association employees or Executive Officers who may encounter confidential information will be required to sign a copy of the policy. This policy will be displayed in all Advice Hub staff offices and on the Students’ Union website.