The purpose of the Code of Professional Conduct for Sexual Health Advisers is to clarify the professional and ethical standards of conduct required of sexual health advisers.
1. The role of the Sexual Health Adviser
There are three core aspects to the role:
1.1 To ensure, wherever possible that contacts of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV, are offered medical services through partner notification.
1.2 To reduce the transmission of STIs, including HIV, through health promotion initiatives.
1.3 To support individuals affected by STIs, including HIV.
2. Sexual Health Advisers have a duty to
2.1 Safeguard and promote the well-being of individual patients/clients.
2.2 Safeguard and promote the sexual health of the wider community.
2.3 Serve the interests of society.
2.4 Justify public trust and confidence.
2.5 Uphold and enhance the reputation of the profession.
2.6 Adhere to the law.
To achieve these aims, sexual health advisers will:
3. Respect the individuality of Patients/Clients
3.1 Sexual health advisers will safeguard and promote the interests of all patients and clients irrespective of age, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, ability, lifestyle, socio-economic status, culture, religion, values and beliefs.
3.2 Sexual health advisers will ensure:
- 3.2.1 Interventions are tailored to meet the needs of the individual.
- 3.2.2 Communications are as clear and effective as possible.
- 3.2.3 Personal beliefs and values that may adversely affect the quality of care are addressed in supervision.
4. Respect the autonomy of Patients/Clients
4.1 Individuals have the right to be informed and make choices about their health and care. Sexual health advisers will ensure:
- 4.1.2 Patients are offered as much information as they may require about their current health, treatments, choices, prognosis and services available.
- 4.1.3 Information given is accurate, truthful and clear.
- 4.1.4 Valid consent is obtained for all procedures or communications that carry a risk for the patient.
- 4.1.5 Valid consent would be:
– Freely given
– Given by a legally competent person, capable of sufficient understanding
to make an informed choice.
- 4.1.6 If valid consent cannot be obtained, the multidisciplinary team will decide how to serve the patient’s best interests. This may involve wider consultation with the patient’s significant others and/or professional bodies.
- 4.1.7 If a legally competent person refuses consent, this will be respected, unless a third party is thereby placed at avoidable risk of significant harm. Such situations will be discussed with the multidisciplinary team.
5. Protect confidentiality
5.1 Information obtained in a professional capacity will not be disclosed beyond the multidisciplinary care team except:
- 5.1.1 To another medical practitioner or person working under the direction of a medical practitioner for the purposes of treatment and/or prevention of an STI. (VD Regulations 1974).
- 5.1.2 With valid consent.
- 5.1.3 By law or court order.
- 5.1.4 To protect the individual, or another, from the risk of significant harm.
5.2 Sexual health advisers will take all reasonable steps to ensure that:
- 5.2.1 Individuals are aware of the limits of confidentiality.
- 5.2.3 Personal information is protected from unauthorised access.
- 5.2.4 Consent for disclosures is always sought.
- 5.2.5 Disclosures are limited to the amount of information that is necessary to achieve the legitimate purpose.
6. Ensure Fitness to Practice
6.1 Sexual health advisers will:
- 6.1.1 Ensure they have the knowledge and skills to perform all aspects of the role safely and effectively, based upon current evidence.
- 6.1.2 Demonstrate commitment to ongoing professional development.
- 6.1.3 Adhere to professional guidelines from The Society for Sexual Health Advisers.
- 6.1.4 Be guided by all relevant government directives.
- 6.1.5 Work within the limits of their professional ability. Where the practitioner lacks confidence, experience or appropriate training, the support and guidance of competent colleagues will be sought. The direct line manager will be informed of the need for additional training or support.
- 6.1.6 Seek regular managerial and clinical supervision.
- 6.1.7 Ensure their workload is manageable. The direct line manager will be informed if an excessive workload jeopardises professional standards or places an unreasonable strain on practitioners.
- 6.1.8 Ensure they are physically, psychologically and emotionally able to undertake duties without risking harm to themselves or patients/clients/contacts. Concerns will be brought to the attention of the direct line manager.
7 . Work constructively with other members of the care team
7.1. Sexual health advisers will:
- 7.1.2 Recognise, respect and support the contribution of others to the care of the patient. This may include medical and nursing colleagues, social workers, psychologists, counsellors, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, dieticians, pharmacists, youth workers and voluntary agencies, as well as partners, relatives and friends.
- 7.1.3 Ensure the patient is offered access to any professional or non-statutory services that may be beneficial.
- 7.1.4 Endeavour to communicate effectively with those involved in the patient’s care. Information that allows others to do their best for the patient will be shared promptly, subject to patient consent. Sexual health advisers will take all reasonable steps to ensure that they, or a delegated colleague, can be contacted for case discussion. A record of care given and discussions with other carers will be recorded promptly in the case notes.
- 7.1.5 Support the professional development of colleagues by sharing knowledge and skills appropriately.
- 7.1.6 Ensure other carers understand the role of the sexual health adviser.
- 7.1.7 Work within their specified role.
8. Protect Patients/Clients/Contacts from harm
8.1 In addition to the above measures, sexual health advisers will:
- 8.1.2 Remove or report hazards in the physical environment.
- 8.1.3 Protect patient dignity and privacy.
- 8.1.4 Report concerns that a colleague may be unfit to practise, due to incompetence, poor health, or inappropriate behaviour.
- 8.1.5 Advocate on behalf of patients, clients, contacts and the wider community to ensure that all have fair access to care.
- 8.1.6 Establish clear professional boundaries with patients or clients to minimise the risk of abuse or exploitation. All aspects of the relationship should focus exclusively on the needs of the patient or client, and must not be detrimental to their welfare in any way. Embarking upon a sexual relationship with a patient is forbidden.
- 8.1.7 Refuse offers of gifts, favours or hospitality that may be perceived as an attempt to secure preferential treatment or build an inappropriate relationship.
- 8.1.8 Never ask for, or accept, a loan from patients, clients or their associates.
- 8.1.9 Document sign and date all aspects of care in the patient record.
- 8.1.10 Take all reasonable steps to ensure that the patient has access to alternative support at times when the sexual health adviser is not available.
- 8.1.11 Declare any interests or conscientious objections that may prejudice advice or treatment.