Below is a description of the ways in which an Aboriginal community controlled health service can provide physical conditions that are conducive to confidentiality and privacy. Not all of these good practices are required by the Standards, but they illustrate the many practical and creative things that ACCHSs can do to ensure they deliver services of high safety and quality to their community.
All the health service’s physical facilities are managed to ensure that patients’ visual privacy is maintained, whether they are in a consultation room, in the waiting room or in another service location. If the doctors go out in the mobile van, it is checked before departure to make sure there are enough clean gowns for the number of patients they will see. The mobile van has a curtain to ensure privacy for times when patients have to undress. When visiting outstations, the doctors make sure there is a private area where they can conduct patient consultations.
Staff members position computer screens so they are not visible from the waiting room or from corridors to which patients have access. Any paper-based patient information is not left visible on the desks in the reception area. The service’s facsimile machine, to which patient pathology results are on occasions sent, is located in an area to which patients do not have access.
The waiting room has either a radio playing or a television on to mask conversations that are held at the reception counter. If more private conservation is required with a patient, the staff member will take the patient to a free consulting room or office to continue the conversation. If there is no free room or office, they will take the patient to a place that is outside the hearing range of other patients or staff.
Staff use a low voice tone when talking with patients in the consultation room. Doors to consultation rooms are always kept closed when they are being used. If someone visits with the patient, they will be asked to leave the consultation room during patient consultations, procedures or treatments – unless they have the patient’s permission to be there. At no time do any staff members talk about patients with each other in a way that can be heard by people in the waiting room or anywhere in the service. When having phone conversations with patients or other staff, staff members make sure that nothing they say can identify the patient or reveal anything about them.
The mobile van is sound insulated so that no passer-by can overhear what is being discussed. Doctors doing home or other visits are especially careful to maintain auditory privacy, so that other family members cannot overhear what is being discussed. They make sure that if a person wants to be present at the consultation, this is only allowed with the prior consent of the patient. If the patient does not agree, the doctor will politely but firmly make sure that the other person is not present, or will make an appointment for the patient to come to the health service.
Below are some of the ways in which an Aboriginal community controlled health service might choose to demonstrate how it meets the requirements of this criterion for accreditation against the Standards. Please use the following as examples only, because your service may choose other, better-suited, forms of evidence to show how it meets the criterion.