How long must I keep care records?
This is a frequently asked question and for a good reason. The answer is a minimum of three years from the date of the last entry, but this begs the question, why three years? And, where does the three years come from? The current regulations and guidance on meeting the regulations, in contrast to previous regulations and guidance, does not give any lead on records retention, except to require care records and records that relate to the management of the business be “created, amended, stored and destroyed in line with current legislation and nationally recognised guidance”.
A distinction can be made between the two kinds of records. Care records include all the information the service has gathered about an individual, which includes their needs and risk assessments, care plans, medication charts and general correspondence so it is their personal data that is being protected. The records for the management of the business will be subject to different retention protocols in line with a range of legislative requirements, though many are also subject to the three-year rule. (See employers’ factsheet in the Record Keeping topic for examples.) Staff records are the closest in data protection terms to service users’ records.
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