VICTIM SERVICES OF
KINGSTON AND FRONTENAC
Victim Services of Kingston and Frontenac (VSKF) is a community based program provided to the community with the cooperation and support of Emergency Services in Frontenac County, and beyond, by special request. VSKF is a non-profit social service agency with charitable status. All information obtained by the staff and volunteers of VSKF, relating to clients of VSKF, is the sole and exclusive property of VSKF and as such, shall remain in the possession and under control of VSKF, for all purposes and at all times, except where reports are required to the referring Emergency Service provider.
STATEMENT OF PURPOSE: The purpose of this policy is to ensure the strict confidentiality of records, files and all information obtained by the staff and volunteers of VSKF in the provision of service to the community.
PRINCIPLES OF CONFIDENTIALITY: This policy shall be informed by and based upon the following principles:
- Every person has the right to privacy of personal information
- Confidentiality is the ethical obligation of the service provider (VSKF), its staff and volunteers
- Confidentiality of information gained through the provision of service is vital to the success of VSKF and to the public trust in VSKF.
- Violence against individuals is physical, emotional and psychological in nature and sometimes results in corresponding physical, emotional and psychological injury. Confidentiality shall, therefore, be maintained in an effort to ensure, as far as possible, the protection, safety and well being of VSKF clients.
- Confidentiality shall be maintained so as to ensure the client’s autonomy and to preserve the integrity of the client’s decision making power with respect to all matters relating to the provision of service and/or the management of their cases.
RULES AND PRACTICES OF CONFIDENTIALITY: In keeping with the above stated purpose and principles, the following rules and practices shall be observed:
- Child Abuse or Neglect: All staff and volunteers of VSKF shall hold strictly to legal reporting requirements relating to suspected child abuse or neglect. The client shall be informed of such reporting, unless in the opinion of the member, the child would be placed at risk by such reporting. No reporting shall be made without the knowledge of and consultation with the Executive Director of VSKF or his/her designate unless such consultation would unduly delay the reporting of such information and such delay could result in harm to the client or public.
- Danger to the Client or the Public: If it is necessary to divulge information for the protection of the client or the public who may be in imminent harm, efforts shall be taken to inform the client that such information must be released. No information shall be released without the knowledge of and consultation with the Executive Director of VSKF or his/her designate unless such consultation would unduly delay the reporting of such information and such delay could result in harm to the client or the public.
- Legal Proceedings: Where, at the discretion of the Executive Director of VSKF, it is necessary or advisable to do so, the client shall be informed that any information given to the staff and/or volunteers of VSKF may be required to be disclosed in a court of law if the staff, volunteers or VSKF are under a Court Order to do so.
Where possible, VSKF shall seek to limit the scope of such disclosure.
Legal or Professional Obligations Requiring Disclosure: If any member of VSKF is under a legal or professional obligation to disclose the existence of abuse or potential of abuse of any person, efforts shall be taken to inform the client that such information must be released. No information shall be released without the knowledge of and consultation with the Executive Director or his/her designate.
CONTENTS OF RECORDS AND FILES:
- The client shall be viewed as the primary source of information about himself or herself. The interests of the client must be paramount in the choice of information, which is to be recorded in the client’s file.
- Only information strictly relevant or essential to the provision of service shall be recorded in the client’s file.
- At all times, discretion should be used in the type of information recorded in a client’s file:
- At no time shall documents of a legal nature be kept in a client’s file (e.g. passports, birth certificates, etc.);
- At no time shall documents of a personal nature be kept in a client’s file (e.g. diaries, journals, letters, etc.);
- At no time shall documents, records or reports of third parties be kept in a client’s file (e.g. doctor’s or therapists reports).
- Unsubstantiated information and/or opinions of the record maker that lie outside his/her area of expertise or the opinions of any party shall not be recorded in a client’s file.It is expected that a client’s record shall be orderly, accurate, objective, specific, reliable, timely and factual.
RELEASE OF INFORMATION:
- All requests for information shall be forwarded to the Executive Director of VSKF who, in conjunction with the Board of Directors if necessary, will control the release of any information, if warranted.
- All requests for information shall comply with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act or other appropriate legislation governing the release of information which is in the possession of government-funded organizations (“relevant legislation”).
- All requests for information shall be considered under relevant legislation.
- All requests for information shall be signed by the client.
- Upon receipt of a request for information which has been signed by the client, the Executive Director shall:
- confirm that it is recently dated;
- confirm that it is clear and precise in its intent;
- contact the client, if possible, to confirm his/her understanding of the reasons for the request for information and his/her agreement to it.
- Unless required by Court Order or pursuant to relevant legislation, at no time shall a client’s record(s) be photocopied for the purposes of transferring to another party. If necessary, the Executive Director or his/her designate shall make a summary of information contained in the file for release.
- Information released should be factual with a minimum of interpretive opinion.
- Written information that has been obtained from another agency or third party should never be passed on without specific, written permission of such person or agency and with the written permission of the client.
- Written information being released to another agency or individual shall be stamped: “Confidential – not to be shared with another agency.”
- No information shall be released about other persons mentioned on a client’s report unless the express written authorization of those other persons is obtained. This includes confirmation that VSKF volunteers provided assistance to the other person(s).
- Unless required by Court Order or pursuant to relevant legislation, the names of VSKF volunteers shall not be released without the express written authorization of the volunteer and the approval of the Executive Director.
CLIENT ACCESS TO RECORDS: Client records are the property of VSKF and subject to appropriate legislation, VSKF shall reserve the right to decide when and under what circumstances records may be made available to clients. No reasonable request will be denied.
USE OF RECORDS FOR REPORTING, RESEARCH, PUBLIC EDUCATION OR PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Any information about VSKF or its clients, used for the purposes of reporting, research, public education or professional development shall be sufficiently altered so as to ensure that the individual clients cannot be identified in any way. Information made available to funders shall be basically of a statistical nature and shall not contain any identifying information specific to clients.
SAFETY OF RECORDS: Client records must be locked and in a secure place to ensure confidentiality. Only those individuals authorized or designated by VSKF shall have a right to access any files of VSKF.