Registered Psychotherapists are expected to create and sustain positive working relationships with other professionals encountered in practice. Clients are entitled to have their care coordinated by their health care providers, when it is necessary and appropriate to do so and when the client explicitly authorizes such collaboration. In addition, regulatory colleges are required under the RHPA to take steps to enhance interprofessional collaboration.
Appropriate communication is a key component of successful interprofessional collaboration, and may help to reduce conflicting or inconsistent information or advice given to clients. Appropriate communication between providers contributes to enhanced safety for clients and better professional relationships.
In general, members can expect to communicate with other professionals in a client’s circle of care, when the client has provided consent to do so. As stated previously, the circle of care includes: those who provide care to the same client, other healthcare providers within a multidisciplinary setting, and other healthcare providers where the client is referred by the member.
Good communication can be achieved in a number of ways, including written communication between health care providers, conference calls, team meetings, meetings requested by the client and family meetings. Such communication should be documented in the clinical record.
Members are expected to make reasonable efforts to communicate with other providers when the client consents to such communications and it is likely to have a positive effect therapeutically. A member cannot be held responsible, however, when another professional refuses to communicate or does not respond to the member’s reasonable efforts to communicate about a client’s care. Unsuccessful attempts to communicate should be noted in the clinical record.
It is important to understand that the client controls collaboration and communication in specific circumstances. If a client is uncomfortable with any aspect of this communication, s/he may direct the member not to share the information. Members should explain to clients the potential benefits of interprofessional collaboration, as well as the implications of not permitting the therapist to share information with other providers.
Release of information by RPs
Cases of emergency
There are circumstances where obtaining prior consent to share information with other professionals is not possible. In such cases, for example, when a client is admitted to hospital, and disclosure is reasonably necessary for the provision of health care, and it is not possible to obtain the individual’s consent in a timely manner, the member is permitted to disclose necessary information, as long as the client has not prohibited him/her from doing so.
The Standard: Communicating Client Care
A member makes reasonable attempts to communicate with a client’s circle of care, provided the client has given explicit written consent. A member may decide not to communicate with professionals in the circle of care in cases where the communication is unnecessary, or where it will have a negative impact from a therapeutic perspective.
Demonstrating the Standard
A member demonstrates compliance with the standard by, for example:
- ensuring that the client agrees to the information sharing, and that s/he has the information needed to make an informed decision;
- documenting informed consent in the client record, including how consent was obtained and what information was provided;
- sharing client information only when necessary, and when doing so is likely to have a positive effect from a therapeutic perspective;
- not sharing information if the client requests that it not be shared.
Note: College publications containing practice standards, guidelines or directives should be considered by all members in the care of their clients and in the practice of the profession. College publications are developed in consultation with the profession and describe current professional expectations. It is important to note that these College publications may be used by the College or other bodies in determining whether appropriate standards of practice and professional responsibilities have been maintained.