For community living and human services staff and the organizations that employ them, the clients’ well-being comes first. However, this task is much easier said than done, as there are a multitude of things that need to be considered when caring for those who need support in their daily lives.
To provide the best care possible, community living workers need to have access to all of the information about a client, such as information about their doctors, medications, injuries, emergency contacts, and much more. This information is difficult to manage on its own, and what’s even more difficult is keeping this data which is highly sensitive and personal, secure. Many community living organizations are still relying on filing physical papers to manage their client data. This can be a risky way of tracking this information, since if any papers get lost there can be a breach of security, not to mention that it can take a long time to find the necessary client data in the case of an emergency.
So for many community living organizations the challenge is this: how can I keep my clients’ information highly accessible to those who need it yet maintain the highest levels of confidentiality and security?
To help provide a solution to this frequently experienced problem, here are three best practices surrounding security of client data:
Controlled data access
A folder in a filing cabinet is hard to restrict access to. You can have it locked down, or in a secure area but ultimately it can easily end up in the wrong hands. If client data is kept in an online database, you can not only restrict which users can access the database, but you can also manage what specific information they see.
A volunteer may need to see if the client has allergies or is on specific medications, but they don't need access to any financial information you are storing about the client. By setting up different profiles in your client management system, you can easily set the access level for each profile and manage right down to the specific data field you want (or don't want) people to see.
Secure mobile accessibility
In human services organizations, particularly community living, many of your staff members are frequently travelling to visit multiple clients.
Your staff are continually on-the-go. Whether its visiting client's homes, your various locations or even different rooms within one building - they are rarely at a desk.
In this case, once again carrying around sensitive client data in a paper file poses a security threat. Files can be easily misplaced, papers slip out and in an event of an emergency it's hard to sift through paper quick enough to get the information you need. However, once you've moved client data online, staff can now access information on a mobile device and have your entire database of clients at their fingertips.
There are additional considerations that you have to take such as ensuring the mobile devices themselves are secure. One way to do this is to make sure that if the device gets lost that sensitive data is locked.
Human service organizations manage a large number of employees, and there are frequently staff members coming into and leaving the organization. When staff members leave, it is up to the organization to determine how they are going to protect their clients’ data from people who used to have access to this information but are no longer authorized.
Having to change the combinations and locks on filing cabinets, or clear any patient documents off of a former employee’s personal computer, can be a time-consuming process. To make employee departure a much simpler process, community living organizations can use a client management system that allows supervisors to simply turn an employee’s ability to see patient information on or off.
Following these best practices can ease some of the pressure that comes with being in charge of the sensitive and personal information of hundreds of vulnerable people at one time. Relieving this pressure gives staff and supervisors the opportunity to spend less time worrying and more time working on providing the best possible care programs to all of their clients.
To find out about more best practices that can allow you to better serve your clients, download our guide: 6 Tech-savvy ideas that will enhance (and simplify) Client Care.