Frontline Initiative Documentation

The Real Scoop

Welcome to The Real Scoop. Clifford is a self-advocate who has been politically active for years. He’s here to give you his spin on how to deal with issues you face as you forge ahead in your role as a Direct Support Professional (DSP). Seth has been a DSP for many years, and he loves to give advice. He may ruffle your feathers, but hey, it’s for your own good! Clifford and Seth tackle this one with a few suggestions. 

The “Write” to Privacy

Dear Seth and Cliff,

I am a brand new Direct Support Professional and my supervisor keeps telling me about something called data privacy. I am not quite sure what this is. Can you tell me what data privacy is? Why should I be concerned about it? Is it really important for me to know what it is? How does it affect the people I support? Can you help?

—Data Entry Confusion


Dear Data Entry Confusion,

Have your bank and store credit card companies sent you privacy mailings yet? They should have. All personal information that is shared needs to be kept confidential — no ifs, ands, or buts, without written authorization by the person you support and if need be, their legal representative. The concern, especially in this day and age, is that personal information can be used against the individual (e.g. an insurance company finds out you are HIV positive and will not accept your application; your credit card numbers are used for bogus purchases.) Personal information in the wrong hands probably can hurt you in some manner. For the people you are supporting this is also true. Your job as a direct support professional is to protect the person’s privacy by keeping personal information from falling into the wrong hands.

— Seth


Dear Data Entry Confusion,

Data privacy means privacy; you should not discuss information about the people you support with anyone outside of work. As part of your job you get to know very private and personal information about the people you support. If you need to release this information, you should obtain written approval from the person in question or their guardian. Data privacy involves a person’s life and needs to be protected. If everyone knows what the person you are supporting is doing, that person may not be willing to carry out his or her goals and objectives. You should respect their privacy as much as you respect your own.

— Cliff