The Advice and Counselling Service is committed to providing services to all Queen Mary students (see our Access Policy) and to providing an environment that is acceptable to all clients and staff. There may be occasions when, with careful consideration, services are refused, withdrawn or limited for individual clients. This policy outlines the circumstances in which this may be appropriate, and details the procedures to be followed.
1.1 All Advice and Counselling Service staff receive training on this policy during their induction.
1.2 Regular case supervision and team meetings ensure that awareness of this policy is maintained, and allow early detection of situations that might need to be dealt with under the policy.
1.3 Students are made aware of this policy via:
- A notice in our waiting room
- Copies available from Service reception on request
- Policy available on Advice and Counselling Service website
- Reference to the policy will be added to the new version of our promotional leaflet.
1.4 This policy is reviewed annually by the Head of Service and Deputy Head of Service, in consultation with service staff.
The Service must give due consideration to mitigating factors or mental health difficulties that might be contributing to a client’s behaviour, and staff must remain aware of Duty of Care obligations. If such factors appear to be relevant, appropriate advice, support, alternative service provision or external referral should be considered.
3.1 If staff members have concerns about a client in relation to this policy, the details should be discussed with the Senior Welfare Advisor or Senior Counsellor in the first instance.
3.2 Every effort will be made to resolve a situation informally. If this is not successful or appropriate, every effort will be made to limit services rather than refuse or withdraw them. Refusal or withdrawal of services will only be made as a last resort.
3.3 Where a potential limitation, withdrawal or refusal or of service is identified, the client must be made aware of this policy and be offered a copy.
3.4 Clients must be notified in writing by the Head of Service, or their nominee, of any decision to withdraw or refuse Service. Written decisions should include:
- a clear explanation of why the decision has been made
- advice that the student has a right to complain about this decision under the College’s Student Complaints procedure: www.admin.qmul.ac.uk/registry/Students/complaints.pdf
- reference to advice, support and representation services offered by the Students’ Union and information on how to access them
- details of alternative service providers
3.5 A decision to limit service provision may be communicated verbally to the client and should include a clear explanation of why the decision has been made and details of alternative service providers. In extreme or unresolved cases it may be necessary to provide a written decision in accordance with section 3.4
3.6 Accurate case notes must be kept of all discussions, advice and decisions
3.7 It is at the Head of Service’s discretion to take action under the College’s Code of Student Discipline.
4.1 Circumstances that may lead to limitation, withdrawal or refusal of service:
- client is threatening or using violence
- breach of College’s equal opportunities policy
- request for collusion with fraud or illegal activity
- inappropriate or excessive use of resources
This list is intended as a guide for both clients and staff. However, if an instance occurs that is outside these guidelines, which indicates that it is in neither party’s interest for service use to continue, the Head of Service reserves the right to refuse service after careful consideration of the situation.
4.2 In addition to the general procedures outlined above, the following procedures should be followed.
Client is threatening or using violence
The Advice and Counselling Service aims to provide an environment that is safe for all clients, visitors and staff.
If staff are unable to resolve a situation effectively, or if a client is being violent, the nearest alarm button can be used to alert College security staff, who should attend immediately. The alarm will also alert other colleagues in the department who should take appropriate action, especially if College security does not respond immediately.
The Head of Service will convene a meeting with all relevant staff members at the earliest convenience to agree action. It will be at the Head of Service’s discretion to invoke College disciplinary procedures.
Client breaches the College’s Equal Opportunities Policy
The Advice and Counselling Service embraces the Equal Opportunities** and Harassment** policies of the College. We aim to provide an environment that is acceptable and accessible to all clients, visitors and staff and that enables all parties to be treated with dignity and respect.
If a client’s behaviour is contrary to an equal opportunities environment, and informal measures do not rectify their behaviour, the service will consider alternative ways to deliver services to the client if appropriate, such as arranging a waiting area away from other clients or offering appointments via telephone or email.
At the point of informal resolutions the client should be informed that continuing to breach the College’s equal opportunities policy may result in refusal of service.
If effective alternative service delivery is impossible and informal measures to deal with a situation do not rectify the behaviour of a client, the Advice and Counselling Service may refuse or withdraw service in order to maintain an environment acceptable to other clients, visitors and staff. This decision is only likely to be taken in situations where behaviour is extreme and persistent.
Request for collusion with fraud or illegal activity (Advice service and disability service staff only)
Staff must not knowingly assist clients with fraudulent applications or illegal activities.
If a staff member identifies a client who might knowingly or unknowingly be committing, or about to commit, a criminal offence, they must make the client aware of their obligations under UK law, the implications of their action and the steps they should take to rectify the situation.
If the client is unwilling to follow this advice, the Service cannot continue to advise or represent them on this particular issue (other than to reiterate obligations and implications etc). Staff may continue to work with the client on unrelated issues.
Such cases should be discussed with the Senior Welfare Advisor in the first instance and any decision to limit service provision should be clearly explained to the client and recorded in the case notes.
Inappropriate or excessive use of resources
The Advice and Counselling Service has limited resources and aims to provide equal service to all clients. Resources in terms of staff time and expertise are not unlimited. The following actions may lead to withdrawal or limitation of services offered:
- Persistent requests for staff to undertake actions which they deem the student to be able to take themselves
- Requests for advice or services that are not within the remit of the service or exceed the expertise or competency of staff
- Long term support requirements that require substantial staff time which then has a detrimental affect on the ability to provide an acceptable level of service to other clients
- Refusal to pursue referral to other sources of support deemed to be more appropriate alternatives to services offered by the Advice and Counselling Service
4.1 A decision to refuse, withdraw or limit services must be reported to all Service staff and appropriate support offered to staff who are required to implement this decision.
4.2 Staff should raise concerns about unacceptable incidents or working conditions with their line manager in the first instance and then with the Head of Service. The Advice and Counselling Service is committed to providing a healthy and safe work environment where staff are treated with dignity and respect and where harassment of any kind is unacceptable. If staff feel that their concerns have not been satisfactorily addressed by their line manager or Head of Service, they should contact the Human Resources department and/or their trade union for advice and support.
Review Date: August 2006
Staff member responsible for review: Laura SeQueira