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Advantages vs disadvantages of keeping records

Advantages of keeping good records or case notes include:

provide accurate records of the agency’s contact with the client and aid in continuity of case management between co-workers
aid/jog memory as over time it can be difficult to recall the specifics of each case
lend credibility - particularly if one is called to give evidence of a particular fact or matter
may add credence to a claim by a client - especially about sexual abuse or domestic violence incidents
protect the worker and the agency, particularly from later claims of negligence.

Disadvantages of keeping records include:

non-privileged records may be used against the client (e.g. in court cases)
if it exists, file notes may disclose negligence on the part of the worker
clients may be loathe to seek assistance if they know that an agency maintains records which they fear may later be used against them or which they fear somehow may end up in the hands of a violent spouse or government agency.

Striking a Balance

Ideally one tries to strike a balance when keeping client records and only record relevant matters and involves the client in record keeping (e.g. by clarifying what written notes should/will be kept of a meeting).

Community based organisations with a client empowerment focus are generally well advised to develop an open approach to maintenance of client records and access by the client to his/her own records and indeed most service standards support this approach.