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Trusted contact

Understand what a trusted contact is and the university's policy on trusted contacts.

The NHS and other statutory agencies are responsible for the provision of care to our students. It is expected that students who are unwell will engage with these agencies according to their needs. The university, as a provider of higher education, is not the appropriate agency and does not have the expertise or capacity to closely monitor students’ mental or physical health, nor to provide health care. If, however, the university becomes aware that a student is unwell, causing it to have concerns for their welfare, it may, where it regards it as appropriate, seek to engage with third parties to address those concerns, as set out here.

What is a trusted contact?

A trusted contact is someone the university can contact if there are serious concerns about a student’s health or wellbeing.

A trusted contact is someone the student nominates, whom they trust to handle sensitive information about them. A trusted contact may need to work with us and statutory/emergency services (e.g. health services) to act in the student’s best interests, for example if they become unwell.

The student should explain to their trusted contact that we may reach out to them if we have serious concerns about that student’s health or wellbeing. It is the student’s responsibility to inform their trusted contact they have chosen them to act in this important role.

Who can be nominated as a trusted contact?

A trusted contact must be over the age of 18. In most cases, a trusted contact will be a parent, a guardian, partner or other close family member. It can be someone else, it is most important that it is someone the student trusts.

A trusted contact should care about the student and know their medical, social history and lived experience. The student should be confident their nominated trusted contact will respect their privacy, and understand how to handle the responsibility of this role.

A trusted contact should not normally be another Cardiff University student or staff member, unless they are also the parent/guardian/partner/close family member.

When will we use trusted contact information?

We will not normally use a trusted contact without the student’s expressed consent. The trusted contact we use will be the person most recently identified by the student, and who remains the named trusted contact at the time the support is needed. If we are to contact this person we will normally discuss this with the student at the time. Examples might include:

  • Where the student agrees with a student support professional who is supporting them that they would like us to contact the trusted contact;
  • Where the student asks a member of staff to contact their trusted contact. This might be because the student is unwell and/or does not feel able to make contact themselves.

By providing us with a trusted contact the student provides consent to the university to contact this individual in circumstances such as those set out here. Students can withdraw consent at any time by deleting or changing the identified trusted contact in the Student Information Management System (SIMS).

We may use trusted contact without specific consent in exceptional circumstances that lead us to have grave concern about a student’s wellbeing. Examples of such circumstances may include:

  • Where we become aware a student is (or will be) hospitalised due to an emergency;
  • Where we become aware a student has suffered a serious injury (this could include self-harm; or use drugs and/or alcohol in high-risk amounts or combinations);
  • If a student ceases to engage with their studies and/or professional support and/or does not respond to a reasonable number of attempts to contact them;
  • If we have been made aware a student has an ongoing serious illness (physical or mental), and/or there is evidence their health may be deteriorating;
  • Where there may be a threat to the student concerned, or to someone else as a result of that student’s action
  • Where there is a risk to the student concerned, or someone else from that student, and the student concerned; cannot physically or legally give consent;
  • To take reasonable action to prevent an unlawful act (e.g., harm to someone);
  • Where a student needs care or support and the lack thereof is affecting their wellbeing;
  • Where a student is at risk of harm or neglect, or is experiencing harm or neglect;
  • If we think a student cannot protect themselves against harm, neglect or the risk of it.

This list is not exhaustive.

A decision to contact a trusted contact will be made in response to presenting risk and information available to us. The decision will normally be made by appropriately senior and/or qualified staff in the Student Life department.

Will trusted contact information be shared outside the university?

The university works in partnership with statutory/emergency services, agencies and other third-party organisations where this helps to keep our students, staff and the community safe.  With consent we may pass trusted contact information to relevant agencies so that they can help facilitate the provision of support the student concerned may need at that time.

The university may share trusted contact information with the emergency services if requested to do so without a student’s expressed consent if circumstances warrant this e.g., we think this is in the student’s vital or best interests, it may help to prevent harm to the student concerned, or to someone else, or it is requested as part of a police investigation or may be helpful to the emergency services for the purpose of admission to hospital.

Is it mandatory to provide a trusted contact?

Students are not legally required to provide a trusted contact to us. However, all students are strongly recommended to nominate a trusted contact.

Can students change their trusted contact?

It is important all students take ownership of their nominated trusted contact and review it regularly. They can change their nomination at any time.