What you need to know about getting information about the person you care for
As a Carer of someone who is in hospital, you may need information about the person you care for, and staff may want to speak to you to gather information about the person whom you care for. However, the law makes it very clear that social services and healthcare authorities have a duty to protect an individual’s confidentiality. Staff will seek the patient’s consent before discussing any information with a carer. If the person is unable to give consent, then the Mental Capacity Act will be followed.
Mental Capacity Act (2005)
The Mental Capacity Act (2005) is a process designed to protect individuals who are unable to make decisions for themselves. It covers anyone over the age of 16 and is in place because legally, no one can give consent for another adult, even if you are a family member.
If you care for someone who does not have capacity, there is a legal obligation that you are consulted about any decision that needs to be made, and that you are part of any best interest meeting that is held. Your opinion about any decision that needs to be made is valued, and will be taken into account when considering what action to take.
You can find out more about the Mental Capacity Act for Carers at www.nhs.uk/CarersDirect/moneyandlegal/legal/Pages/MentalCapacityAct
The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) is part of the Mental Capacity Act and aims to protect an individual’s rights if they are unable to look after themselves. They ensure that any restrictions placed on someone’s liberties in hospital, care homes or supported housing are done so lawfully, in the least restrictive way possible and with the person’s best interests in mind. The Alzheimer’s Society has some helpful information about DoLS.