top of page
Adults'
All features
Training
Children's

Care-experienced people asked to share challenges of accessing their care records

The Information Commissioner’s Office is calling on people to share their experiences accessing care records as it vows to improve support.

12/03/24

Care-experienced people asked to share challenges of accessing their care records

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is calling on people with experience of the care system in the UK to share the challenges they have faced when accessing their care records from organisations.

In a new survey, the UK data protection regulator is committing to improving the support it provides to both people who grew up in the care system in the UK and the organisations that hold their information.

Under data protection law, everyone has rights over their own personal information. This includes the right to ask for this information using a subject access request (SAR).

The ICO says that records of personal information are especially important to people who have care experience, often revealing elements of their childhood history which they cannot recall. For people with care experience, getting information through an SAR can be a lengthy and stressful process.

“Someone I do not know, someone who I do not have a relationship with, gets to decide what I can or cannot see,” Jackie McCartney, care experienced campaigner and Ambassador for the Rees Foundation, said of her experience of accessing her records. “A total stranger knows more about me than I do, or ever will. This is my history and the whole process should be dealt with compassion and care.”

The survey comes out of a series of workshops with organisations who support people with experience in the care system which identified that accessing care records is a significant issue with long delays, heavily redacted records and challenges accessing support. The insight revealed that organisations can struggle to understand what information they can release from complex records and often fail to treat these requests with the sensitivity they require.

It also highlighted that the regulator could do more to help people with care experience obtain their personal information and exercise other information rights, as well as support organisations to provide timely responses.

In response to the concerns raised, the ICO is now urging people with care experience in the UK to come forward to share their experiences both requesting their records and having their personal information handled in the care system. The information gathered about the impact of delays, redactions and other concerns will help the ICO identify areas where it can focus its support.

“Accessing care records can be an emotive and personal subject, as the information can play a huge role in helping someone to understand their identity,” Catherine Evans O’Brien, Head of Communities at the ICO, said. “As the UK data protection regulator, we want to empower people to exercise their rights over their own personal information and we want to improve the support and resources we provide to help people understand these rights.”

“This survey is a major step towards improving the experience of accessing personal information for people who have been in the care system. As well as experiences trying to access records, we want to hear about any concerns people have about how their personal information has been used, so we can understand where we can make the most difference with our support.”

The ICO has also been engaging directly with local authorities in Scotland to improve response times where it has identified poor performance handling requests for care records. In Scotland, many local authorities have seen an increase in SARs, especially since the Redress Scheme requires people to submit supporting documents when applying for redress for abuse suffered while in care.

Jenny Brotchie, Regional Manager for Scotland at the ICO, said: “We have heard how undue delays and other challenges accessing care records can cause further trauma for people in Scotland. Organisations must get this right which is why we are closely monitoring local authorities until we are satisfied that their compliance has significantly improved.”

Using the insight gathered from both workshops and the survey, the ICO will produce updated resources for all UK organisations, providing clarity on how they can improve their processes when handling requests for care records and protect the personal information of people with care experience.

Share your experiences in the survey here: https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/icocareexprienced/

Paint on Face

Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

Social Worker Level 1

Job of the week

Sign up for an informal interview for this role today

£28,407 - £34,581

SWT_SideAd1.png

Featured event

Social World Podcast

Podcast

30 Jan 2024

Instant access

Featured jobs

Barnardo's

Mental Health Practitioner

Young Lives vs Cancer

Social Worker

SWT_Online_Events_ad.png

Most popular articles today

Better communication could break down barriers and improve the health of Roma people

Better communication could break down barriers and improve the health of Roma people

MPs open survey for care leavers to share their experiences of social care

MPs open survey for care leavers to share their experiences of social care

Support for sibling contact makes future connection between siblings more likely

Support for sibling contact makes future connection between siblings more likely

Project to understand how local authorities use Family Group Conferences launches

Project to understand how local authorities use Family Group Conferences launches

Sponsored Content

What's new today:

Supporting social work students with additional needs during their placement

bottom of page