Monday, October 13, 2008
Confidentiality. All through school I've had it drilled into me. Confidentiality, confidentiality, confidentiality. And when are the times you can break confidentiality?
- Threat of harm to self
- Threat of harm to others
- Abuse of a child
And that's it. You can't just go around breaking people's confidentiality for other reasons. This is where the enforcer and I disagree.
The situation is this. We have someone in detox who may know some more details about how a woman died (I wrote about her a few entries ago, she was found on the street, gone). It may be that someone pushed her down the steps. During his detox intake he disclosed it to the worker (we're called "crisis workers") who shared it in shift change.
Now the enforcer seems to think that we have a duty to report this to the police and I disagree. I say we have to respect people's confidentiality and that all we can do is encourage this person to report it.
Unfortunately, that is not what came out of my mouth though, and here's where I created my entire problem which lead to our entire fight, and I should have known better. I said something like, "as I social worker the only time I can break confidentiality is - see above". This is when the lecture started. The lecture about how I'm not a social worker I'm a crisis worker, and I can't say I'm a social worker while I'm working because I'm not. I say I'm I social worker wherever I am. That I am a registered social worker and breaking people's confidentiality like that could make me lose my registration with my professional institute.
The enforcer starts getting really mad, tells me that it doesn't matter. That I have to follow agency policy, which is to report things (since when?), and that I'll be prosecuted if I don't. He has me cornered, yelling at me, and my supervisor (who I love) jumps into it too, telling me I'm not a social worker there and I have to follow policy. The enforcer won't let me speak, keeps telling me I'm interrupting, so I let him have his thing. Then when I want to have a turn, he won't let me speak, and goes on about how hard I am to work with. This is when I exit to go the bathroom and cry.
When I'm semi calmed down, I go back upstairs and say "Okay, I'm taking into consideration what you said, I'll talk to our boss and my professional institute and work this out. I'm new at this whole social work thing, and still have a lot to work out". I go about my work, getting on my knees to fill up some sugar. The enforcer stands over and yells some more. I keep crying and remind him "I don't want to talk about it". "Why would you want to talk to our boss, don't talk to him". I tell the enforcer that if that's the policy I'll quit, because one job is not worth losing my registration over, and then the enforcer, my supervisor and I get into it again. I'm basically ready to quit my job on the spot, except it still seems like a really far fetched policy, and well, I like my job. a lot. So I leave. But just to go pick up some donations. It takes me an hour of driving, a clonazepam (klonopin) and some yoga breathing in a random parking lot, but by the time I come back, I'm actually mostly calmed down.
In the morning, I talk to my boss about it, first thing. Not the fight exactly, just what the policy is. Turns out, the policy is exactly what I wrote at the very beginning. My boss says "we're not the justice system, we'll never have any trust with these clients if we tried to be". So I was right, but it really doesn't feel very good at all, and I'm not planning on telling the enforcer that, why bother. I want to sit down with him and talk it out, but I don't think it's going to happen, at least not yet.
A collegue got to work the next day and already knew about our fight, how, they'd run into each other and the enforcer mentioned "I made still dreaming cry last night". Oh, so this is a point of bragging now? If I didn't love my job...