Social work and end-of-life care

Social work is important in end-of-life care

Advice – what to do to respond to historic abuse allegations

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20140920 historic abuseClaims of historic abuse get a lot of press coverage. How do you handle getting involved in a scandal? Many social workers and local government officials get mixed up in their local authority’s reaction, but increasingly social workers work for a private sector organisation, or a small organisation like a hospice that may not have the legal backing or the experience to react well to getting into such a situation.

Legal advice from an experienced law firm (link to the advice) suggests six things you should do, and I’ve added a bit of my own advice from experience, too:

  • as soon as you hear about the possibility of something coming up, get together as much information about what happened as you can find, so that you’re not on the tv news giving the impression you don’t know what’s what.
  • check your insurance; also my advice would be to  and check in with any potential supporters, such as committee members, trade unions, professional associations and personal friends who may be knowledgeable and experienced in such situations
  • make sure you have a consistent message, think about the damage to your reputation and be ready to say more than ‘no comment’; also my advice would be to have a message that is more than saying how good you try to be – say what you’ve actually done and achieved
  • information  requests about something in the past are often advance warning that something is about to hit you; be alive to that – make sure you know what you’re required to say (and not to say – confidentiality, but don’t invoke data protection unless you’re really sure it’s relevant, often it isn’t) and what you want to say; my advice again: use the opportunity of an early request for information to research things and plan any responses in advance, so you’re ready
  • information requests about deceased persons are still affected by confidentiality requirements – my advice: check the law and the information commissioner’s guidance on access to health and social care records before saying anything; another reason for being well-prepared
  • notify the relevant authorities of anything you should and keep a record of the notification – I always used to do it in writing and keep a note of what I said when people rang me up; I also used to grade my reports in levels of horrendousness, so that they couldn’t say that I hadn’t made it clear it was serious if it was, and so that I could not be accused of exaggerating something.
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Written by Malcolm Payne

1 October 2014 at 11:31 am

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