My city is not that big, it’s fewer than 1 million people, which means that when you work in the social services field, you can run into the same people, over and over again, no matter where you are working or volunteering. Because I tend to focus on similar populations (homeless, high risk, “dangerous”, substance abusing etc…) that becomes even more of an issue. Basically, it means that I’ve known some of my clients for 10 years, through at least five different jobs and volunteer positions, which is great, in some ways, but definitely makes things more challenging in other ways.
Here’s the scenario, you have a signed confidentiality/release of information with a client on your caseload. You’ve known them 10 years, but they’ve only been on your caseload at this job for 6 months. Keep in mind here, that in each of the places you’ve worked you would have had signed consents on file for disclosures to certain people, not necessarily the all the same places/people, plus, these consents would no longer apply to you as you are no longer there. You are talking to someone from the justice system who is working on a presentencing report; they ask you how long you’ve known the client, what do you tell them?
The answer is of course, complex andI went and talked to my supervisor, who also didn’t have a good answer. My reflection on the situation? I’m still not sure what the correct answer was/is. I think in the spirit of the information acts, I gave an appropriate answer. The acts are meant to protect the best interests of the people, and in this case, providing relevant information was in his best interests, in my opinion (now, don’t get me started on how the justice system ignored everything I said).