Top 10 Tips Your Information and Data
Top Tips for foster carers on ensuring information is correct, accessing data and rectification.
- Make sure you know what data and information are kept on you
Our fostering providers hold a huge amount of data, information and records on us, this should be being written, stored, handled and processed correctly. It begins with our assessment process, and the ensuing completed Form F. This is the document that is referred to the panel for our approval and licences to foster. It is a huge body of work and contains reams of our personal and private data and information. After we are approved we have annual household reviews, reports, regular medicals, regular supervision, and training records all of which vastly expand the data and information, which of course also increases the longer we foster.
- Make sure your information is correct
Foster carers regularly find information written and recorded about them that is not correct or is false. You have a right to have this misinformation or false information rectified. False or misinformation may be on a household review, it may be on a report during an allegation, medical records or supervision notes and more. It is therefore important that you exercise your right to rectification, and your right to access your own data to ensure all information kept on you is correct.
- Exercise your right to rectification
You have a legal right to rectification under Article 16 of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which is called “The right to rectification“. Try to read everything written on you at the time, on supervision notes, reviews, reports and medicals, it will avoid having to rectify them later, when they may be used in an allegation, complaint, when transferring agencies, adopting/SGOs and more. It is easier to rectify misinformation at the time rather than later on down the line. Check out the FosterWiki page on “Incorrect or false information“, this is a foster carer’s guide to incorrect or false information, and what to do when it appears on reports, reviews, supervision notes, in allegations, medical reports and their right to have it rectified.
- Analyse ‘interpretation’ or ‘opinion’
It is very important that opinions or interpretations are not presented as facts. This is a difficult subject as often it will be claimed that false or misinformation is an ‘interpretation’ or an “opinion-based” statement. If you think opinions are being presented as facts you have the right to have this rectified, they must either state in the record or report that it is an opinion based statement and not based on fact, or you can exercise your right to rectification. If you leave these opinion-based statements in reports then they must amend them to say that they are opinions or “interpretations” and not present them as facts. Treat this information very much like incorrect or misinformation if they refuse to change or amend to acknowledge opinion-based statements. You have the right to rectification on any opinion that is being presented as fact and is incorrect.
- Exercise your right to access your data
You have the right to ask an organisation for copies of anything that are about you or contain your personal information.
This right of access is commonly known as making a Subject Access Request (SAR). Your right to this is covered by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which is tailored by the Data Protection Act 2018. There is a detailed account of how to do this on FosterWiki’s ‘Incorrect or false information page and a Subject Access Request template email in the FosterWiki members area.
- Ask your provider how they store your records and data
This is a theme running throughout our Top Tips in all areas, it is crucial that you keep your own records, they don’t have to be long, rather concise and to the point. Having written records, reports and evidence is key to safeguarding your role as a professional. Many carers now record using online systems, many of these systems, such as ‘CHARMS’, do not allow you to access recordings once they are submitted and you, as a foster carer, can not access them again. Should you need to access your recordings for evidence the only way you can get them is by asking your SW or manager to get access to them for you. FosterWiki has been advised that this does not always happen.FosterWiki can not advise on keeping diaries but we can report that many foster carers keep their own diaries to back up any incidents, times, dates, issues as they do not feel secure in the fact that their online recordings or encrypted emails will be handed over in times such as allegations. They keep them safe and have adequate knowledge following their own providers’ GDPR protocol, for which they have often had extensive training and written policies.There are varied opinions on keeping diaries with many providers saying its fine, however from the perspective of our experts by experience keeping diaries is not something you should have to ask permission for can be prevented from doing, especially if you keep them safe and make sure you do not identify any children in any way.Check out the FosterWiki’s members area for things like the training page “Your role as a professional” or Top Tips for allegations, the short allegations courses and help pages for advice on reporting and recording.
- Monitor your Medical reports and how they are processed
Foster carers undergo a medical to become an approved carer, then have regular 3 yearly medicals throughout their careers. It is important that our medical reports and records are accurate and they are correctly stored, accessed and processed. One of the most common breaches of our medical data is when report forms are sent to the doctors by your council or agency to fill in accompanied by an SAE (self-addressed envelope) addressed to the general fostering offices. When delivered here they can be opened by anyone, or at the very least managers and social workers. This is not the correct processing of our medical data. Foster carer’s medicals should be sent back to County Medical Advisor, or specialist Agency Medical Advisor and no one else. The Medical Advisor then assess the medical report in relation to you being fit to foster. Any new information that may impact your ability to foster should be sent to your fostering team manager by the advisor.In May 2019 the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) ruled against Bolton Borough Council which had been processing foster carer’s medicals in this way.For detailed information on this, including the Bolton Borough Council ruling, access FosterWiki’s page on ‘Medicals and your medical data’
This is one of the most frequent complaints from carers when submitting SARs or Right to Rectification, fostering providers take months longer than their 1-month deadline, or even the extended 3-month deadline to respond. Make sure you follow up your application either after a couple of days with another email or phone call if they have not acknowledged receipt of the application so they can not say they did not receive it. If they are going over timescales you can complain, follow the protocol in section 5 on “How to make a complaint” on the FosterWiki “Incorrect or false information” page, you can also find a complaint template email in the members’ area.
- Be proactive
There are a couple of reasons foster carers tend to let things drift, firstly they are incredibly busy people, not just that but our day to day jobs are pretty stressful and full-on 24/7 so it is so times easier to let things that pertain to us personally or our own roles take a back seat, secondly, due to the nature of the allegations system, many of us work in a climate of fear and are afraid to challenge. However, usually, these issues come up when we are wanting to do something else or are under investigation in an allegation and can be a real issue, so it really is better to be proactive and stay ahead of these things, rectifying smaller things as you go along is a lot easier than trying to do it further down the road.
- Don’t do it alone – Put help and support in place
Take a look at our Help and Support page
Information, Help and Support
Help and support created for foster carers, by foster carers, we are the experts by experience. We have the first foster carers knowledge bank.
Access both the open pages and members area. Both are free to access and footprint-free. The member’s area gives you privileged confidential access to FosterWiki’s experts by experience for advice and guidance. You will also find short courses and guides from the foster carer’s perspective, top tips, allegation help, templates, and the ability to add to FosterWiki. With more content being uploaded regularly.
Please let us know what information or advice pages you would find useful and we will put them in place. https://fosterwiki.com/register/