Due to the Human Rights Act, parents and children always have the right to confidentiality. However, there are some occasions where maintaining this confidentiality is counter-productive, and not possible. For example, if there are concerns over the child’s wellbeing it must be reported; as it can stop the child from being exposed to further harm or danger. If a professional is made aware of a criminal offence, they have the duty to report the offence to the correct authorities (if it is very serious, and poses danger to individuals then the police must be contacted). If confidentiality must be broken, it is important that it is done in the correct way – according to the setting, and only ever done for the service user’s benefit. Although it may seem a difficult situation to be in, and may make professionals not want to report concerns, it is important to remember that by reporting any concerns (in the correct manner) they are reducing the risk of further harm to the service user; whilst simultaneously maintaining the dignity of the service user and their family. Where abuse of a young person is suspected, the professional must go to the designated individual who deals with issues surrounding child protection. If as a professional you have concerns that a child is being abused, it is your duty to disclose this information to the manager of the setting, so it can be further investigated – unless you feel that by disclosing this information you may be putting the young person in further danger. If the situation is a difficult one to deal with, it may be appropriate to discuss the issue with colleagues, so a quick and accurate conclusion can be brought forward. However, if discussing a case with colleagues, you must provide anonymity for all people involved.
The information must be shared immediately, and with the designated individual/manager in a private and confidential area of the setting, so the conversation is not overheard; and information is given to the abuser. Tensions may arise if the abuser has been informed. This may happen face to face, or over the telephone. In either scenario it is important that the child is kept in a safe place; because if not they could be removed from the professionals care and put into more serious danger that could be potentially life threatening. Due to the allegations, this is an extremely dangerous situation to be in, meaning the child must be monitored at all times. All information given by the young person must be recorded very accurately, and on the correct paperwork (an incident recording form). When the young person discloses information, it is important to never cross-examine what they are saying, as they could become confused or say something that they did not mean.
In contrast, there are some other areas that are more difficult to deal with and can cause more tension. For example, social networking sites (such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) are a growing concern for professionals. This is due to their ability to spread information extremely quickly, and without the proper control. Therefore, professionals in all settings who use social networking must under no circumstances use these previously mentioned sites to divulge private information – or reply to comments made that reference cases. If a professional sees something that is a cause for concern, on social media, it is their duty to report it to the setting manager, who is then able to speak to the people involved to stop further problems arising. An example of a cause for concern would be if a professional was made aware of a service user posting explicit pictures, or engaging in illegal activities. Due to the service user being in their care; they must do everything in their power to ensure that the young person is kept out of danger, and trouble with the authorities.
Research evidence indicates that there is a strong, positive correlation between healthcare professional’s communication skills, and a patient’s capacity to follow medical recommendations; including self-management of their condition and adopting preventative health behaviours (such as beginning a healthier diet or stopping smoking). Studies have shown that a professional’s ability to explain, listen and empathize with a service user has a profound effect on their treatments outcome, as well as improving their satisfaction with the care they have received. Furthermore, communication among healthcare professionals influences the quality of their working relationships, job satisfaction and greatly impacts the patient’s safety.
Professionals in the healthcare sector interact with thousands of patients during their career. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) Report on Health Professions and Training highlights the importance of communication training for professionals. Communication skills can always be learned and improved upon, however improvement requires commitment and practice.
There is a clear link between ineffective clinician-patient communication with increased risk of malpractice, dissatisfaction for both the professional and service user, and risk of danger to the patient. Therefore, it is evident that addressing the need for improvement of communication skills is of the utmost importance.