Thursday, November 24, 2011
Human Services Ethic: Principles of Ethical Decision Making
Human service as a social work profession is a widely developing field profession because of human deeds. Human needs are classified as unique because we are all unique, and we all use or need a unique ways to solve our problems. For sure no one has a formula to resolve all our problems, and to all of us, just like it is in the physics, chemistry or mathematics. But for sure we have a format that can be useful and applicable to some of us; since we are unique and requires unique approach to solve an individual ways, format cannot be applicable to all of us. However, it is in my attention that format of resolving our problems so as our clients’ is application of “ethical decision making” by relaying on ethical principles as are listed in the Kenyon text book page 7.
Responsibilities to yourself: As a Human service/social worker professional I have responsibilities to apply human service principles of decision making as most of them are found in the universal ethical principles. According to the text book by Kenyon, Ethical principles are the expression of ethical system. For example on page7, Kenyon stated that ethical principles are the “statements of human’s obligations or duties that are generally acceptable”. These principles are real and makes a difference in our community when a social worker apply them, they shape social workers to avoid any kind of controversial issues, intervene problems even when stakes are delicate, and are far more diversified. Such as ethical principle are, autonomy, gratitude, fidelity, beneficence, ordering, confidentiality, reparation, finality, justice, nonrmaleficence, publicity, and respect for person, universality, utility, and veracity.
However, these universal human service ethical principles are also nowadays applicable to almost every organization, religion, public and private firms are using them. For example the churches I have attended so far since my child hood, and my parents and fellow relatives, have taught me to do the right thing, that it is my duty to do good things, it is my duty to tell the truth because it is to have faith with God (God commandment), respect and honor parents (parents taught me to respect and honor others as I would like to be respected), to love my neighbor as I love myself (Bible tells me to treat others as I would like to be treated), to be fair and just (parents and Bible have taught me this since my child hood), to do not lie, to treat all fairly and equally, to keep good promises, and so many more.
Responsibilities to clients: Human service is primarily about solving ethical dilemmas or making decisions when "right strives with right" or "wrong with wrong." Social workers are to make decisions involves identifying and weighing alternate means for reaching desired ends. (Lewis, Lewis, Packard 2007). It is our responsibility to serve our clients with mannerism that will not or clear ethical dilemma while involving decision making. For example Kenyon page 8 says that social workers must have ethical values such as
“Finality-the duty to take action that may override the demands of law and social customs.”
“Respect for person- the duty to honor others, their rights and their responsibilities.”
“Universality – the duty to take actions that holds for every one, regardless of time, place, or people involved.”
“Confidentiality – the duty to respect privacy of information.” And so on.
“Fidelity - the duty to keep one’s promise or word.”
To me the above ethical principles are the most controversial in ethical dilemma and decision making as concerned. For example “finality”, at my work we are told to document goal activities of our individuals. Because of level of developmental disabilities of some individuals some goals are not possible or realistic at all. But because state wont provide enough for the guys if they wont see any progress of goals and activities from the previous year, we as social workers are to use “finality” for the best interests of our individuals. Because they need to have funding from the state, for their recreational activities and community outings that most of goals are relayed. We have to override demands social custom from the state to have these guys out there in the community and mingle with public because it is their right. When we are out there we find some resentments from business people, we politely educate them that these are disabled guys and they should be treated like others when in public and special accommodation is important as we call them prior to go. Some incidents happened but eventually it’s all cool. Like my guy has a goal to go to the community and buy non alcohol free beer, since he loves beer; sometime we call a bar nearby and ask to have non alcohol beer for him, when we get there some people wanders and ask stupid questions and we enlighten them that my guy is disabled and he wanted to come to the bar and have fun.
Responsibilities to your community: I consider myself responsible to the community because what I do for living is to promote social justice, equality, human services, education, and so on. For example as I said above that when my guys are out in the community for recreation or community activities such as horse riding, bawling, jogging, shopping, watching movies in the theater, dining, visiting and so on; we often come across resentments and we educate them about status of our guys and it all cool. Also our guys are part of community so we help family members who cannot attend them due to financial instability or they are also responsible for their jobs such as lawyers, doctors, and all others as they are also serving the community for us.
For example Reamer chapter 2 pointed out the nature of social work’s mission as my responsibility to the community for been a social worker professional. He went on and mentioned some prominent orientations toward social work’s basic values and ethics that outlines our responsibilities to our communities; such as social justice orientation, religion orientation, clinical orientation, amoralistic orientation, paternalistic orientation, clinical orientation, and defense orientation.
Responsibilities to society, Responsibilities to colleagues and Responsibilities to agency or employer are more or less the same. But in this case there are some instances that we as social workers are to seek for advice and use precedence by asking our core workers. Also we work independently in the field, but well equipped with knowledge of our agency we represent and we implement mission statement and goals of the agency we work for while serving our clients. For example, we do have community outing and activities in our community. One day we took one individual, aged in mid-20. He is very behavioral guy, yet it is his right to go for these outings. Therefore my agency set out a care plan as 2 on 1 while going on outings or doctor’s appointments, sort of policy, for his outings. Therefore as a social worker I’m responsible and abide by his care plan, yet I’m responsible for his outing as one of his care plan/community activities and outings; nevertheless, I’m responsible to my core-worker who goes with me while taking this guy for community outing and activities. Because he acts up and if something happens to him or he injures my core worker while I’m suppose to be there to prevent this from happening by any measurable ways, it should be my responsibilities. A vivid example, one guy took this guy to Duncan Donuts for his dining outing, he choose to go with a newly hired girl weighs about 100 pounds and did not know anything about this guys or even ways to intervene when he falls in the behaviors, nevertheless, she could not be capable of handling the guy. Then while they were there, he fell in to a full blown behavior, and they had to call for help from the house because the new girl stoop aside and look at the other staff pursuing and wrestling with the individual, because he wanted to stand on the table next to the TV and start to press the buttons, this individual is obsessed with numbers and TVs. I, personally think that it was the fault of the guy by choosing a newly hired girl to go with him to the community dinning outing with a behavioral individual who is very obedient to old staffs because we have bond with him and we can predict his behaviors and take him back to the van before he goes off.
Summary of steps to be taken in ethical decision making: ethical decision making is fundamental thing in the human service/social work field. This starts from the personal values and application of ethical principles. For example, Kenyon page 51 questions social worker professionals and urge to use self assessment as an inventory of social worker attitudes and beliefs about professional and ethical issues in the helping profession. However, we are all unique and comes from different backgrounds. We tend to see things different but we are working for one thing and that is common good of our clients, community and society at large. This is one common thing all social workers have. We have a common framework that help us to tackle ethical dilemmas and clients problems when arises. For example Reamer chapter 3 page 44, reminds us about ethical dilemmas. That “ethical dilemmas occur when a social worker encounters conflict among professional duties and values and must decide which takes precedence.” However, social worker must be concerned about any illegal nature of the client. Moral philosopher calls these situations as hard cases because they confront they bring about difficult choices between conflicting duties or what philosopher W.D Ross (1930) said that is “conflicting prima facie duties”. For example, at my work if I fill out all the goals assigned to our individuals as required by state, the some of our individuals wont get funding for community outings and community activities. Therefore I have to apply what philosopher W.D. Ross said a conflicting prima facie, and document the these goals in a fashion that can be for the best interests of my individuals because all of them likes these outings and activities, but some don’t like the way state instructs them to be and documented. Therefore I do as my clients likes these activities and outings and then I document as state wants, fair game and every body is happy and treated right.
If we social workers stick by universal ethical values, will find them very beneficial and help the social worker to resolve so many ethical and value dilemmas among themselves and to the clients they serve.
Kenyon, P. (1999). What would you do? : an ethical case workbook for human service professionals. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole Pub.
Lewis, J. A., Packard, T. R., & Lewis, M. D. (2007). Management of human service programs. Belmont, CA: Thomson Brooks/Cole.
Reamer, F. G. (2006). Social work values and ethics. New York: Columbia University Press.
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Posted by Valerian B-K. Masao at 12:57 PM