We hope that your experience with York Hills will be helpful and rewarding. This handbook gives you a brief description of our services, as well as important information about working with you and your family.
At York Hills we care a lot about children’s mental health and wellbeing. This caring comes from the privilege of supporting many families over the years. During this time, we’ve learned that:
- Parents want the best for their children
- Families are resourceful
- Families go through a lot when they try to find professional help
- Parents become more confident and capable when their family is supported
Consent to Service
Your involvement with York Hills is voluntary. You can choose to end services at any time.
You will be asked to sign a Consent to Treatment acknowledging that:
- You wish to receive service from York Hills
- Treatment is voluntary
- You understand the agreement clearly
- The agreement clearly outlines York Hills responsibilities and commitments to you, as well as your responsibilities while participating in our programs
- At any time, for any reason, you are able to stop the service.
If we are concerned that the agreement is not being maintained, we will contact you and ask for your continued commitment to the program. Should you not wish to provide it, we can assume that you are withdrawing your voluntary consent to participate.
If there is any confusion or lack of clarity, do not hesitate to ask questions and share your concerns with us.
Children and youth may be able to access individual services without the permission and/or involvement of a parent/guardian. This decision is based on multiple factors such as age and capacity to make sound decisions.
Youth, 12 and older will be asked to provide consent in order to proceed with services.
Risk and Benefits
Engaging in treatment can have many benefits, although there are some risks to consider as well. In every service that you attend at York Hills the risks and benefits related to that particular service will be reviewed with you.
Some general risks that are possible for children and family when they engage in service could be that they experience a range of emotions that they may not be used to. They may also experience setbacks and regression in behaviours as they work on doing things differently. There may be periods of confusion and uncertainty within the family and disagreement about things changing.
There are also many possible benefits of treatment which may include achieving goals that have been identified, improvements in behaviour and relationships within the family, understanding each other better, and developing new ways to cope with difficulties and stress.
The Rights of Families at York Hills
Children/youth and families have a right to:
- Confidentiality (unless the child/youth is at risk)
- Participate meaningfully as a full partner in all aspects of you or your family’s involvement. This includes identifying your needs, assisting with choosing and implementing strategies to achieve your goals, and helping to measure the outcomes
- Make decisions about services received
- Be treated without discrimination
- Receive respect and consideration in all aspects of the treatment process
- An accessible, safe and secure service environment
- Receive services in a way that is suitable to your communication needs
- Be confident in the knowledge, skills and qualifications of the professionals involved with you
- Have the client/service provider relationship clearly defined and shared with you
- Be informed of the risks and benefits of the treatment process
- Be informed about any alternatives to the services being offered
- Be made aware of the complaint procedure and how to voice your concerns or complaints
- Provide feedback to the service provider on the impact of the treatment process
- Withdraw from service at any time and be informed of any possible implications
- Have access to your file (some restrictions may apply) and, if necessary, correct agency information in your file/record
Parents and guardians of children under the age of 12 have a right to:
- Be an active participant in all aspects of determining which services would best meet you and your family’s needs
- Be informed of all medical emergencies regarding their child/youth
- Be advised of the child/youth’s rights and responsibilities and the complaint procedure
What We Will Ask of You
- To participate in the process and the development of treatment goals, and to be as open and honest as possible in your communication
- To collaborate with your worker in selecting the right mental health service for you and your family
- To share with your worker if you do not understand something during the treatment process
- Attend scheduled meetings and appointments. Sessions may include all family members, children/youth alone, and/or parents alone
- To notify the appropriate individual(s) in a timely manner if you are unable to attend sessions.
- By keeping your appointments, we can ensure that we are able to work with as many people as possible, keeping our waitlists low
- To respect the staff, other participants in service, and property of York Hills
- To allow York Hills access to information from community sources, i.e., hospitals, doctors, and/or other professionals that may help in the formulation of the treatment plan
- To provide York Hills with any information about your child, youth and family that will improve healthy family functioning
What Does York Hills Do With Your Information
York Hills understands the importance of treating your personal information with respect and sensitivity. This means that in all aspects of our work with you the privacy of what we collect, how we use it, how we store it, and how we share it is just as important to us as it is to you.
We follow privacy principles as outlined in the Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA). If you have any questions about our privacy safeguards, please ask your worker, or ask to speak with our Privacy Officer.
We collect personal and health information that could include: Name, address, date of birth, and health card information (if required). To help us provide the best kinds of services we may also collect information on your family background and history. Your personal information could be used to:
- Offer the best kind of service
- Get some feedback from you on the quality of the service you received
- Help us meet all legal and other regulatory requirements
- Contact you about upcoming community events, workshops, or other programs that you might be interested in
- Contact you about volunteering
Direct and Indirect Collection of Information
Our main goal is to collect information from you directly. There may be circumstances where we collect information from others, for example when it reduces risk, or when it is not possible to collect it from you directly.
Your Right to Access Your Records
You have the right to access your file. You may request to see and/or receive a copy of information from your file. Certain exceptions apply as outlined in our access to records policy which will be shared with you at the time of request.
Your Right to an Accurate File
You are responsible to provide accurate and up-to-date information and have the right to correct and update information in your file. You may request that staff make corrections to your records where the record is shown to be incomplete or inaccurate. Staff may require that you put the request in writing to ensure accuracy of changes (i.e., changes in address, phone number, guardianship, etc.)
Storage of Records
Your records may be in paper and/or electronic format. Paper files are kept in a locked file cabinet within a locked room. Electronic files are part of a web-based system that has many security features in place. Your file cannot be accessed by anyone without an assigned and secure password. Your personal information in all forms (i.e., electronic, hard copy, audio/video) are maintained by York Hills for as long as you are a client here. Records will be kept 10 years after the day on which the client reached or would have reached 18 years of age.
Your Informed Consent
A consent is your verbal or written permission allowing us to ask for and/or share information with specific agencies, organizations or individuals. An “informed” consent for collection, use and release of information, means that the purpose has been explained to you in language and format that is understandable. York Hills does not share any information about you with anyone outside of York Hills and our associates (e.g., consultants, lawyers, accreditors) without your consent with the exception of limited to confidentiality outlined below.
Your Implied or Understood Consent
We would like you to be aware that as a participant in a York Hills program or service, your personal health information may be shared with other relevant York Hills staff members and joint service delivery partner staff who are working with you and your care team. All staff, associates, volunteers, members of the Board of Directors, and others associated with York Hills are bound by an oath of confidentiality. Rigorous systems have been established to ensure that information is maintained in a confidential manner. Should there be a breach, procedures are in place to inform you.
Limits to Confidentiality
We will not disclose your information to any third party without consent except where required by law. Examples include: If we have knowledge that there is an intention to commit a crime which may cause harm to yourself or another person; that a family member is in danger of harming someone or of being harmed; that there is suspicion of child abuse or a child in need of protection; that there is a directive through the courts to provide information, through subpoena, search warrant or other legal order.
Your Right to Withdraw or Withhold Consent
Consent can be withdrawn at any time by informing us in writing. Once consent is withdrawn, we can no longer seek or share information. Withdrawal of consent cannot reverse any action that was already taken with your previous consent.
Sometimes York Hills uses “non-identifying” information to help us evaluate our programs, ensure quality of service (including accreditation), and ensure compliance with legal and government regulations. This means that we use general information about the people who use our services, but in a way that does not identify you or your family.
What is a Clinical File
As soon as your child is referred to York Hills, a file is opened. This file is a record of our involvement with your child and family. The file helps in organizing, guiding and summarizing our partnership. It assures effective communication with internal staff and professionals. The record ensures accountability to you, to the agency, to the funding sources and to the professional community.
The content of a file includes:
- Basic demographic information about you, your family and/or your child/youth
- Permission forms, consents and any correspondence
- Information you have shared about your family and the work and services that you have engaged in
- Any specialized assessments are also a part of the record
During the course of your service with York Hills we will provide you with copies of important reports (i.e., treatment plant) and documents. You may also request access to your information by making a written request to your worker or to a manager.
In some situations, you and your worker may wish to use e-mail to communicate. There are both benefits and risks when using e-mail, particularly with respect to confidentiality. If you wish to use e-mail we need your informed consent, knowing that:
- We will not provide counseling or treatment using e-mail
- Any confidential information sent through our secure signing platforms or e-mail will be with an encrypted password
- We will only check e-mail during working hours (8:30-4:30)
- We handle email communication in keeping with our confidentiality policies, however we cannot guarantee that e-mail communication will be confidential
- Emails and text messages will be summarized and entered into your file as part of your record
- Deleted emails may not be permanently deleted; back-up copies may exist on a computer or in cyberspace
- Emails can introduce viruses into a computer system and potentially damage the files. Emails can be viewed by York Hills IT staff for security purposes
- No phone or online video software is entirely secure. York Hills computer systems have strong internal security which helps to protect your privacy and confidentiality. York Hills will not be responsible for breaches of your confidential information if they are not the direct result of intentional misconduct
- You are asked to inform your worker of any changes to your email/text address
Text messaging is used only with your informed consent and only for the purpose of confirming appointment times.
York Hills does not permit staff to accept friend or contact requests from current or former clients on any social networking site. This is because doing so can compromise confidentiality and privacy, and blurs the boundaries of the counsellor/client professional relationship. It is a different kind of relationship, and needs to be treated that way if it is to be useful to you and your family.