Home » Assessments » Health and Social Care » Level 3 Diploma in Adult Care » Unit 9: Promote Effective Handling of Information in Care Settings

Unit 9: Promote Effective Handling of Information in Care Settings

Level: Level 3 Diploma

1.1 Identify legislation and codes of practice that relate to handling information in care setting.

The Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) is the main legislation in the UK that regulates how organizations should store, protect, and use personal data. It outlines eight principles for handling information, including the requirement to process it fairly and lawfully, keep it accurate and up-to-date, and use it only for specified purposes. The Act also requires organizations to take adequate security measures to prevent unauthorized access or disclosure of personal data. Additionally, the Act grants individuals certain rights regarding their personal data held by organizations, such as the right to request a copy of their data. The Act also provides guidance on what constitutes personal data, and additional regulations apply to the handling of sensitive or special categories of information, such as the consent requirements for using sensitive personal data under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The Human Rights Act 1998 establishes obligations for public authorities, which may include care settings providing health and social care services. The Act outlines fundamental rights and freedoms that must be respected by these authorities, such as the right to privacy and family life. This means that healthcare professionals have a duty to handle patient information with sensitivity and in accordance with an individual’s human rights.

The Care Quality Commission is an independent regulator of all health services, including those providing social care, in England. It provides guidance on data protection rules related to the handling of personal data in these settings. The Commission has developed its own Codes of Practice for Social Care, which outline the principles of maintaining high standards in protecting confidential information, keeping records up-to-date, and using secure methods of transmission.

The Health and Social Care Act 2012 (HSCA) provides important provisions for organisations on how to handle personal information when providing healthcare services or caring for individuals, such as in residential or homecare settings. The act states that personal data should only be collected and used in accordance with the law, stored securely, and shared appropriately. It also requires that individuals be informed about how their information is being used at all times.

The National Health Service (NHS) Code of Confidentiality outlines the principles for handling confidential patient information by those working in healthcare settings, including registered nurses and other care workers who may collect and store sensitive personal data about patients in order to provide quality care services. The code covers issues such as the storage and security of records, the sharing of information, and the disposal of documents.

The Healthcare Standards (Scotland) Regulations 2009 outline standards for protecting individuals’ privacy when providing healthcare services, including residential homes or homecare/community services. These regulations ensure that appropriate measures are taken to secure medical records and establish systems that allow access rights to be given on a “need-to-know” basis only. Additionally, encryption is used to protect sensitive data when it is sent electronically.

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 is a significant piece of legislation that establishes the legal framework for decision-making for individuals who lack the capacity to make decisions for themselves. Under the MCA, professionals, including carers and nurses in residential homes or homecare/community services, must ensure that any decisions made are always in the best interests of those they care for. This includes obtaining appropriate information about an individual’s wishes and preferences before taking action on their behalf, as well as a duty not to disclose personal data that could harm them if revealed, even with consent from family members.

1.2 Summarise the main points of legal requirements and codes of practice for handling information in care settings

There are several legal requirements and codes of practice for handling information in care settings, including:

Confidentiality: Care settings are required to maintain the confidentiality of personal and medical information about individuals in their care. This means that information should not be shared with others without the individual’s consent unless there are compelling reasons to do so (e.g. to protect the individual’s safety or the safety of others).

Data protection: Care settings are required to comply with data protection laws, which regulate the collection, use, and storage of personal data. This includes ensuring that personal data is collected, used, and stored in a way that is fair, transparent, and secure.

Record-keeping: Care settings are required to maintain accurate and up-to-date records of the care and treatment provided to individuals. These records should be kept in a secure location and only accessed by authorised personnel.

Information governance: Care settings should have clear policies and procedures in place to ensure that information is handled in a consistent and appropriate manner. This may include policies on how to handle requests for information, how to handle sensitive information, and how to handle complaints or concerns about the handling of information.

Professional codes of conduct: Care workers are expected to adhere to professional codes of conduct, which may include provisions on the handling of information. For example, nurses and midwives in the UK are required to follow the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s Code, which includes provisions on confidentiality and record-keeping.

Electronic health records: Many care settings now use electronic health records to store and manage information about individuals in their care. These systems must meet certain legal and technical requirements to ensure the security and confidentiality of the information they contain.

Access to information: Individuals have the right to access the personal information that is held about them by care settings. This right is often referred to as the “right of access” or the “subject access right.” Care settings are required to provide individuals with access to their personal information upon request, subject to certain exceptions and limitations.

Sharing information: Care settings may need to share information with other organisations or individuals in order to provide care and support to individuals. For example, a hospital may need to share information with a patient’s GP or a care home may need to share information with social services. In these cases, care settings are required to ensure that the information is shared in a way that is appropriate and compliant with the law.

Information security: Care settings are required to take appropriate measures to protect the information they hold from unauthorised access, use, disclosure, modification, or destruction. This may include implementing technical measures (e.g. encryption, firewalls) and organisational measures (e.g. employee training, policies and procedures).

Training and awareness: It is important for care workers to be aware of their legal and professional obligations when it comes to handling information. Care settings should therefore provide training and guidance to their employees on these issues, as well as regularly remind them of their responsibilities.

2.1 Describe features of manual and electronic information storage systems that help ensure security

In health and social care settings, the secure storage of information is essential for protecting patient privacy and ensuring compliance with legal regulations. This requires a combination of manual and electronic storage systems that are capable of safeguarding sensitive data from unauthorised access. The following section outlines some key features shared by both manual and electronic information storage systems that help to ensure security in healthcare settings.

Manual records can include physical documents such as paper notes, photographs, or audio recordings stored in filing cabinets or folders behind locked doors. These systems typically employ a key card entry system to restrict access to authorised personnel only, while other measures, such as surveillance cameras or motion detectors, may also be used around the perimeter for additional security. It is also important that all personnel responsible for accessing these records understand best practices when handling confidential information. This means paying attention not just when entering restricted areas but also during document transport within them as well, such as storing papers inside an opaque envelope before leaving the building.

Electronic storage systems store information on computers or cloud-based platforms that can be accessed using passwords, biometric authentication, or smartcards. To ensure the security of these online systems, additional protection measures such as firewalls, anti-virus software, and encryption may be used. In healthcare settings, regular auditing is also commonly implemented to allow administrators to review access logs for any suspicious activity, such as an employee attempting to view patient data without permission. It is important that users understand their responsibility in keeping sensitive data secure, including regularly changing passwords and storing them securely offline and not leaving personal devices unattended with confidential information open on the screen.

Both manual and electronic storage systems should be regularly updated to maintain current security measures. This includes staying informed about any changes in laws or new technologies that could impact data protection and taking steps to incorporate them into existing procedures—for example, investing in more advanced locks for manual records or upgrading software programs or incorporating cloud-based solutions into existing networks for electronic files.

Both manual and electronic storage systems play a vital role in the secure handling of confidential information within health and social care settings, helping to protect patient privacy while meeting necessary legal regulations.


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  • The fundamental standards – Care Quality Commission. (2022, August 25). The Fundamental Standards – Care Quality Commission. Retrieved from https://www.cqc.org.uk/about-us/fundamental-standards
  • Iversen, A., Liddell, K., Fear, N., Hotopf, M., & Wessely, S. (2006). Consent, confidentiality, and the data protection act. Bmj, 332(7534), 165-169.
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