VULNERABLE ADULTS—CONFIDENTIALITY AND INTER-DISCIPLINARY WORKING
A dilemma facing those charged with law reform is the difficulty of striking a balance between the desire of society to intervene to protect vulnerable adults, and the danger that intervention will violate their human rights. Vulnerable adults need special consideration for a number of reasons. They are adults and, despite being vulnerable, often have legal capacity. Defining legal capacity is difficult, but it is important that professionals recognise that an individual may lack capacity in some areas, but have it in others. Unlike other adults, their vulnerability may mean that care is provided through intervention rather than choice. When possessing capacity, the vulnerable adult should be centrally involved in decisions on intervention and the provision of care. In addition, the care is more likely to include a number of professionals from different areas of health and social care, and from the statutory and independent sectors. They often work in an interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary team where issues of confidentiality are particularly problematic and are tested to the limit. The placing of rights at the centre of decision making has increased the control of individuals over personal information, although making confidentiality more complex for the professionals. This chapter considers these problems, outlines the different approach of the new rights culture and assesses whether the new guidance provides adequate safeguards against abuse.