At the moment, we are working on how to improve how one agency can refer someone in of assistance to another agency. Referrals are common in humanitarian crises as no agency can do everything. Sometimes it can be as simple as ‘We are unable to help you with that, but I know ‘agency X’ is working with people on that issue so perhaps talk to them?’ Other times it is more complex. The person is suffering from abuse or trauma and the referral needs to be discreet.
Often the first agency has collected information about the person and it would be helpful or speed up the process if that information could be shared with the second agency. Under most data protection regulations, there are multiple legal basis for this be done. The most common of which is meaningful consent. Consent has become so well known that often it is understood to be the only way we can share data. And it is supposed to be meaningful. The person granting their consent should know and understand what they are consenting to.
And then someone asks a question that stops us all. “How do we explain consent and data sharing to an elderly person struggling with dementia?”
This is where policy and practice meet each other. And there isn’t an easy answer.