Ethics in Social Work

Document Type:Essay

Subject Area:Social Work

Document 1

For a situation to be considered an ethical dilemma, three conditions must be present. The first condition of an ethical dilemma occurs when the “agent’, has to make choice or decision about the best course of action (Sandu & Frunză, 2018). Uncomfortable situations that do not require choice are not considered ethical dilemmas. For instance, students are always required to be to be under supervisor during the internship. Therefore, there is no matter of choice that results in an ethical breach when the student decides to discuss a case with the supervisor. Nevertheless, my colleague discussed an ethical dilemma she experienced with one of her clients. The client was a caregiver for an elderly man suffering from cancer. The old man was receiving palliative care in the hospital.

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Nevertheless, the old man did not seem to know about his clinical condition. According to my colleague, the old man never spoke or reported anything about his condition. These values and principles are used to guide social work practice and help social workers to make ethical decisions. In the situation described above, the ethical standards in conflict are standards of confidentiality and responsibility to clients (AASW, 2010). On responsibility, it states that the main responsibility of social workers is to promote the well-being of the people they attend to. On the other hand, the standard of confidentiality suggests that the client’s needs and requirements should be respected. Considering the Chinese cultural background, it is important for social workers to respect and recognize group identity and the collective needs of particular cultures.

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For the first option, the main participants are my colleague and the old man. The decision is beneficial to the old man because he will get to know about is health and make appropriate decisions about his life. However, the risk of this decision is that if the old man knows about his health condition, it may negatively affect the efforts to improve his health. This risk is likely to affect the care giver’s service delivery to the client. Also, my colleague would have violated the needs and requirements of the client. The main reason that favors this decision is respect for other people’s rights. Also, this decision seeks to enforce professional values in the social work profession such as honesty and transparency.

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The Code of Ethics standard requires social workers to respect the dignity and autonomy of an individual (Banks, 2012). Social workers are also required to fulfill their duty of care and avoid causing harm to others. Therefore, discussing with the old man about his health condition will be in line with these ethical standards and professional values. Also, avoiding health discussions with the patient is against the social work principle of dignity and self-worth of an individual. In the Code of Ethics, standard on responsibilities clearly states that it is the role of social workers to enhance the client’s capacity to address or change their own needs (Gambrill, 2016). Consultation When faced with an ethical dilemma, it is important to consult with social work experts and colleagues on how to approach the issue.

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For the case, my colleague consulted with me and the other interns working at the Chinese Cancer and Chronic Society of Victoria. The reason for consulting the other intern was to get a different perspective on the matter and alternative decisions that may be available. The old man wanted to know about his health condition while the client requires my colleague from having such discussions with the patient. The situation is an ethical dilemma because there are many conflicting standards in the AASW Code of Ethics. The standards were respect for clients’ needs and requirements, respect for human rights, and honesty in social work practice. The resulting decision was that my colleague should not discuss anything with the patient about their health condition.

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