Caldicott Guardians: what social care providers need to know about the need to know

Woman using computer system

Digital Care Hub and National Care Forum recently hosted a free webinar for adult social care providers in England exploring the vital role of Caldicott Guardians in protecting the confidentiality and appropriate use of people’s health and care information.

Chaired by the National Care Forum, the session introduced the Caldicott principles and shared tips and approaches for organisations to ensure data confidentiality and safe and effective sharing practices. 

What are the Caldicott Guardian Principles?

The National Data Guardian (NDG) is an independent champion for patients and the public when it comes to matters of their confidential health and care information. The NDG recommends that public sector health and adult social care organisations that hold or process confidential information should appoint a Caldicott Guardian. It also recommends that other organisations that provide services in adult social care should consider appointing a Caldicott Guardian and record that decision.

The Caldicott Principles are a set of eight good practice guidelines to ensure that people’s data is kept safe and used appropriately:

  1. Justify the purpose(s) for using confidential information
  2. Use confidential information only when it is necessary
  3. Use the minimum necessary confidential information
  4. Access to confidential information should be on a strict need-to-know basis
  5. Everyone with access to confidential information should be aware of their responsibilities
  6. Comply with the law
  7. The duty to share information for individual care is as important as the duty to protect patient confidentiality
  8. Inform patients and service users about how their confidential information is used.

Our speakers 

Fran Driver, Caldicott Guardian for Essex Cares shared her first-hand experience of the role in practice as her organisation made the switch to digital social care records. This ranged from exploring why certain information is collected and what they do with it, which in some cases resulted in stopping recording certain unnecessary information, to how to deal with requests from relatives for access to care records after a family member has died.

Helen Dryer, a member of the UK Caldicott Guardian Council (UKCGC) gave an overview of the Caldicott Principles, the statutory framework that underpins them and what care providers need to consider about the role of the Caldicott Guardian in their organisation. 

This included signposting to practical resources from UKCGC to support care providers including: 

Tania Palmariellodiviney of Data Privacy Simplified also gave an overview of what resources and support are available to help people understand and establish the role of a Caldicott Guardian. 

To close the session, delegates were invited to share their views about whether a new network for Caldicott Guardians in social care would be of interest. Digital Care Hub will continue to discuss this with the UK Caldicott Guardian Council.