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People have the right to expect that information shared with a member of staff would be kept confidential, however it should be made clear to the person, that if the member of staff feels that they are at risk or may become at risk of abuse, that the member of staff has a duty to report and must report it to their manager.

If someone discloses to you, you must stay calm, ensure that any immediate needs are addressed, let them speak, do not interrupt them, show empathy when listening and make sure that you have explained that you will have to report what you have been told to the appropriate person and no one else. 

Do not question the person, except to clarify what they have said, do not make promises you cannot keep and do not register shock or disbelief, take what you are being told seriously even if the person is confused, assure them that they have done the right thing by telling you, and reassure them that the abuse is not their fault. Listen carefully to what you are being told, you will have to write a statement when you report this.

Do not try to finish what the person is saying and do not put your words into what the person has said, ascertain the facts and observe the person and take note of their body language.

Be aware of the possibility of forensic evidence if the disclosure refers to a recent abuse.
Ask the service user what he or she wants to do.

Disclosure means that someone is telling you that they have been or are being abused and this needs the worker to be very sensitive and empathetic, it is essential that you are aware of what appropriate action you need to take.

The abused person must be made safe and secure, this is paramount, reassure them that any further investigation will be conducted sensitively and with their full involvement wherever this is possible, and that the service will take steps to support and where appropriate protect them in the future.
Make a written record of what you have been told, preferably in their own words.

When dealing with a disclosure; Do not ask questions or press the person for more details as this will be done during any subsequent investigation;

  • Do not promise to keep secrets
  • Do not contact the alleged abuser
  • Do not be judgemental
  • Never break the confidentiality agreed between the person disclosing the information, yourself and your line manager
  • Never laugh or joke about what has been said
  • Do not discuss what has been said with other members of staff or service users
  • Do not ignore what you have been told or dismiss what you have heard

The Data Protection Act is not a barrier for sharing information about abuse, be open and honest about how you plan to share information, if you are in doubt about sharing information seek advice, share with consent where appropriate. Consider the safety and well being of those about who you are sharing information and only share information where it is necessary in which case ensure that the sharing of information is proportionate, relevant, timely, accurate and secure.

Keep a record of information sharing and the reason for sharing it.  You will find useful links to the Disclosure and Barring Code of Practice and other documents and relevant websites through your student login.