Open Ears Confidentiality Policy

1. Open Ears

Open Ears, a non-denominational Christian charity, is for people who have various degrees of impaired hearing, mainly (but not exclusively) those who communicate orally, assisted by hearing aids and lip-reading.  It aims to provide fellowship, Bible teaching, prayer support and pastoral care, to produce informative literature, a quarterly magazine, and to support by gifts of money and equipment Christian work among people with impaired hearing in developing countries.

Many Christians with impaired hearing miss out to some extent in their own churches. Open Ears aims to provide additional fellowship, Bible teaching, prayer support and pastoral care.

2. Introduction

Confidentiality is a fundamental obligation which Open Ears owes to all who contact us for advice and help. A confidentiality policy is necessary to protect all enquirers, and those of us who serve them, from the possibility of information about them being passed on to individuals or organizations who have no right to that information. It is also important to provide guidance to volunteers on the extent to which confidentiality is to be preserved, circumstances in which it may be breached, and measures to be taken in either eventuality.

3. General Confidentiality Statement

3.a. All Open Ears volunteers are expected to respect the right of enquirers and other volunteers to privacy and confidentiality as far as possible within the constraints of legal requirements and the safety of other people.

3.b. It is a basic right of an enquirer to know the extent and limitations of the confidentiality that they are being offered by those in Open Ears who respond to them, and to be told the circumstances in which confidentiality may have to be breached.

3.c. Where it is thought necessary to pass on information to another individual or organization this will be on a strictly ‘need to know’ basis. The consent of the person about whom the information is to be passed on will be sought if at all possible (but not where other constraints and/or eventualities make it impossible to do so) and that person will be informed such details have been passed on and to whom it has been passed, preferably in writing.

3.d. This policy covers not only information given deliberately by the person concerned, or by other people about the person, but also information acquired accidentally or through observation.

3.e. Open Ears complies fully with the General Data Protection Regulation introduced in May 2018.

4. Duty of care

4.a. Open Ears owes a duty of care to the users of its services. It may therefore be necessary to breach confidentiality where a client is acting, or likely to act, in a way that could cause serious harm to him/her, or put others at risk of harm.

4.b. Open Ears also owes a more general duty of care towards members of the public. It may be necessary to inform the police or statutory authorities where there is the possibility of serious risk to a particular person or persons, or to the public in general.

4.c. Open Ears volunteers share with all citizens a duty of care towards people whose mental or physical condition makes them particularly vulnerable. If Open Ears volunteers know or suspect that a vulnerable adult is being sexually or physically abused, the appropriate department of social services shall be informed.

5. Giving information to the Police or Social Services

5.a. This should preferably be achieved with the knowledge of the person concerned and their co-operation. However, there may be circumstances where the person concerned is unwilling to co-operate or where the risk to others is too great for this to be advisable or possible.

5.b. When Open Ears knows that, for example, social services or medical personnel are already involved, it can be acknowledged that the Open Ears volunteer is working within a team.  They may therefore consult, as appropriate, with members of that team also working with the same enquirer. Wherever possible this should be with the enquirer’s knowledge and agreement.