Access to Social Care Services Records and Data Protection
West Berkshire Social Care Services are required by law to keep personal information about their clients in order that it can provide them with a service, and you have a right to ask if we hold personal information about you. You are entitled to see your personal information, but there may be some exceptions.
As an example, you would not be able to see personal information which included information about another person, a looked after child or an adult member of your own family unless that person had given permission, (this is called 3rd party consent) or you were acting as an authorised agent for that individual, or had a specific requirement to see the information to protect the individuals 'vital interests'
How to make an application for Social Care Records
To do this you need to make an "access to records" request. This must be made in writing but can be by letter or using the application form "Data Protection Act 1998: Personal information; your right to know " available from this website. Alternatively contact Mary Page (Public Liaison Manager) using the details in the right hand column of this page.
If you were Adopted as a child and wish to access your Adoption file you will need to contact the Family Placement Team in the area you are living now. There is a link to the West Berkshire Family Placement Team in the right hand column of this page.
Who can make the application
Anybody who currently receives or received in the past services from Social Services e.g. Homecare, Looked After Children, Mental Health or Learning Disability clients.
A parent can only be granted access to their child's records if it is considered to be in the child's best interest.
If you are under 18, or a learning disability client a parent, guardian or your Care Manager will need to certify that you fully understand the nature of your application,
If you have power of attorney you will need to send in a copy of your "Enduring Power of Attorney" documentation with your completed application form and fee.
Once your application, together with fee has been received, we have 40 days in which to prepare your files for you to access.
There is a £10 administration fee, which should be sent with your completed application form. Under some circumstances this fee may be waived e.g. any child under the age of 18 or a young person under the age of 25 who is or has been in the care of the Authority.
Signing and returning your form
You should complete, and sign the "Data Protection Act 1998: Personal information; your right to know " request form, or send a letter including full details of your request and return it to our Market Street Offices, where it will be logged and passed to the Public Liaison Officer for allocation. You will be kept informed as to the progress of your application.
3rd Party Information
You will not be able to see personal information which includes information about another person, (this is called 3rd party information), unless that person gives permission, this is called 3rd party information.
Personal information may be shared with other agencies involved in the provision of services to you, i.e. health, education, culture and youth. Your personal information may also be shared with another authority if you have moved to a new area. In most cases you have a right to know how we have used your personal information and who it has been shared with.
What Happens Next
You may be contacted by the Public Liaison Officer to enquire if there are specific documents you are asking to see e.g. copy of a report or letter. If this is the case and you are only looking for a specific piece of information we can arrange for this to be made available to you without the need for paying the fee.
If however you would like access to whole files, or archived files then the fee and 40 day rule will apply.
An independent Social Worker will be appointed to process your file, obtain 3rd party consents and prepare all documents for sharing with you.
You will be kept informed via letter as to the progress of your application.
Occasionally, where there are large amounts of files to prepare we may ask for an extension to the 40 days, in order to do this we will write to you and ask for your formal agreement.
You will be invited to attend a meeting to view and be provided with copies of your personal information, you may bring a friend or relative to assist you or accompany you. You will have a right to ask about the information and can point out where you believe information is inaccurate. If factual information is inaccurate we must change or correct it, and where you disagree with an opinion in your records you have a right to ask that your viewpoint is logged and recorded.
Maintaining your records and keeping them secure is the responsibility of the department and the authority's employees have a duty of care when providing services to you, which includes respecting your right to confidentiality and ensuring that information is only used and given to others for the purpose of the service being provided.
We are regulated by the Information Commissioners Office. There are links in the right hand column to their website home page and "Data Protection - your rights".