Maintaining strict confidentiality is vital in the Schoolkit Clinic setting, where sensitive medical and social issues may be discussed. This should be understood by all parties, with details kept confidential much in the way that information shared in any medical consult would be. The importance of this point should be emphasised and be made clear to all.
It will sometimes be necessary to remind those present of the legal requirements of medical and other staff to report concerns of a child ‘at risk’ to child protection services, or elsewhere. If it is anticipated that this may be a particular issue, it would generally be better to raise it at the start of a clinic, to ensure everyone has a clear understanding of the situation from the beginning.
The privacy of the clinic environment is critical, given the confidentiality of the issues being discussed. For this reason a private room away from others and with good soundproofing is essential.
Controlled Release of Information
Proper documentation is important. Medical notes or minutes will usually be taken during the clinic as a record of what was discussed, the agreed outcomes and actions required. It should be made clear to the parents or carers, at the beginning of a meeting, who is taking them. School staff would generally only take notes on specific issues or actions, and on matters concerning their own interactions with the child.
After the clinic a letter will be produced, addressed to the family, and copied to any other agencies involved in the child’s care (typically the school, general practitioner, paediatrician, disability services etc.). It should be explained that this is done to ensure that everyone has access to the same information.
Releasing a copy of the letter beyond the sphere of the immediate clinic team requires approval by the parents or carers. This can be gained via a signed consent form.
Where particularly sensitive issues are discussed an understanding of who is to receive the letter is especially important, with consideration given to sharing on a ‘need to know’ basis only.