Thames Reach
Sunday 19 November 2017
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Changing our policies

A number of policies and procedures may need to be adapted to ensure your service user employment practices are a success.

Photo of a former trainee
Mark Whiteford, a former service user trainee, is now a project worker at Thames Reach's Robertson Street hostel

Code of Conduct

We made changes to Thames Reach’s Code of Conduct regarding relationships with current service users and how to manage these.

This included a requirement that employees disclose their pre-existing relationships with service users and stated the limitations about who they should not have sexual relationships with.

These changes to the Code of Conduct apply to all staff and volunteers, not just trainees.

Our Code of Conduct and accompanying guidelines can be downloaded from the policies page.

Case study

“I work for a supported housing project and supervised a GROW trainee. He was receiving support from a similar Thames Reach project during his traineeship. Before the trainee started with our team, various team members expressed concerns around him continuing to receive support from a Thames Reach project as a client, while working alongside Thames Reach staff as a colleague.

“They highlighted that if the trainee was still receiving support from Thames Reach, maybe he was not ready for the traineeship. Staff also talked about the way in which they were expected to behave and whether or not they would have to change their behaviour to ‘set a good example’. Once the trainee started, these fears were allayed and he became a member of the team like anyone else. 

“Nonetheless, we were faced with some difficulty when a staff member was successfully interviewed for a job in the team that was supporting the trainee. The colleague was worried that he would now have the role of support worker to someone he had been socialising with outside of work. Issues of confidentiality came up as, under normal circumstances, one would not socialise with a client. Now the trainee would have the relationship of client to someone who was once a colleague.

" The manager of the other team was notified of the issue and ensured that the colleague would not be supporting the trainee on a one-to-one basis. Although these fears and concerns were justified, all involved maintained their professionalism and the issue was managed extremely well."

Placement supervisor in supported housing team

Information sharing and confidentiality policy

We also made changes to the Information Sharing and Confidentiality Policy that required staff to keep the identities of service user employees confidential from all but those people who need to know.

Despite concerns that employing service users would pose a risk to client confidentiality, it has, in our experience, resulted in improvements to confidentiality practice across the board.

Where previously service users were not permitted to enter the staff office at a project, this was no longer realistic once service user employees and volunteers were on placements and their presence within the office is now common. As a result, there has been a shift in awareness and sensitivity about the nature of information that is being shared.

Staff are now much more conscious that many conversations about service users, that they would normally have held openly in the office, are best held confidentially in a separate room, and they are more careful about locking away client files and confidential documents, which may have previously been left on a desk.

Our Information Sharing and Confidentiality policy can be downloaded from the policies page.