PROFESSIONAL ACCOUNTABILITY is made formal and explicit through the accurate recording of information. This is an essential prerequisite for effective communication and as such plays a crucial part in safeguarding children.
Written communication in the form of good record keeping and effective verbal communication go hand in hand. Good documentation can shape the view of a case, clarify objectives, stimulate further action and in this way form the basis for sound professional decision-making. Where there is concern about the safety and welfare of a child, ensure that this is accurately reflected in the child's records. Include a precise and detailed account of the event/contact, the decision reached and any action plan and/or referral. Include discussions with other professionals. Distinguish between what is observation, suspicion and opinion.
The record should be contemporaneous with the contact or otherwise written within 24 hours of it. In all cases note the date and place of contact and remember to sign it. Check that the current and previous names of the child, the address, date of birth, GP and current day care/nursery/school are recorded. Include the names of all adults who have parental responsibility and/or who live with the child; concerns about any of this information should trigger further enquiries.
The record should be legible, continuous and clear; the information systematically stored and easy to access. It is for other professionals to read as well; they should be able to find historical information easily