Advice for pastoral workers in matters of confidentiality, sharing and recording information
The Methodist Conference has adopted a clear policy regarding confidentiality and this is available to download at the bottom of the page. In some ways, this advice is common sense, but in some situations it's easy to upset people when information isn't shared appropriately.
Anyone, lay or ordained, who is involved in pastoral work needs to be aware of the following guidelines. You may also wish to discuss this advice with church members or groups in a way you feel would be most effective.
The following bullet points are a basic checklist but it is important to read the full set of guidelines.
The basics of confidentiality
- Things people share should be treated in confidence.
- Don't assume that a person's friends or family know any details.
- Confidentiality is just as important with children as with adults.
- Don't share information without express permission, even in open prayer or intercessions.
- If you know someone in more than one context, remember to keep the boundaries.
- If you believe someone to be at risk disclose the information only to the relevant authorities.
- The limits of confidentiality should be set by open and agreed policy rather than assumption.
- Every pastoral worker should be supported by a supervisor.
- Pastoral workers should not share any details with their own friends or family.
- All persons or groups discussing the status of an individual need to be aware of the rules of confidentiality.
- Remember when disposing of or passing on computers to delete all sensitive information.
- All sensitive information on computers or data storage devices should be password protected.
- Treat email, text or messages on other social media platforms with the same level of care and security as written correspondence.
- Shred all documents containing personal or sensitive information.
The above points are taken from the report, With Integrity and Skill. Read the guidelines in their original form below to see how best you can adopt these practices in your church.
Full set of guidelines for Pastoral Work
With Integrity and Skill (Pdf)
This 2008 Conference report offers guidance for good practice in matters of confidentiality for anyone who exercises a pastoral role (lay, ordained, paid or voluntary) on behalf of the Methodist Church.
Guidelines for Good Practice in Confidentiality and Pastoral Care (Pdf)
The Methodist Conference directed that section 12 of With Integrity and Skill - Guidelines for Good Practice in Confidentiality and Pastoral Care - should be available on the Methodist Church website as a stand alone set of guidelines. This resource can be used for training purposes and gives practical advice for all those involved in pastoral work within the Church.
Guidance on recording of Pastoral Work (Word doc)
As directed by the 2017 Methodist Church Conference this guidance has been placed on the Methodist website alongside the existing guidelines for Good Practice in Confidentiality and Pastoral Work (Part 14 CPD). This This guidance was extracted from the Past Cases Review Implementation Group, 2017 Conference Report.