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SOCIAL WORK VALUES AND ETHICS

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Introduction

Values and Ethics which underpin social work. In this essay I will define and discuss values and ethics in relation to social work practice, by referring to the work with a service user (V) during my 40days placement with an agency that provides advocacy services to adults with learning disabilities. I will then look at the anti-oppressive practice and analyse the opportunities and dilemmas raised. Finally I will reflect on my own learning from this intervention. Cynthia (2004p116) states that values are: "generalised, emotionally charged conceptions of what is desirable; historically created and derived from experience; shared by a population/ group within it and they provide the means for organizing and structuring patterns of behaviour". Therefore, values are socially constructed moral codes that guide and control our actions within the social world; as social work practice recognises the complexity of interactions between human beings and their environment, it has drawn some of its knowledge from anti-oppressive practice and values in order to facilitate individual change. This knowledge helps the social worker to make informed judgements in addressing the barriers, inequalities and injustices that exist in society (Stanford 2005). Values are at the heart of Social work practice and Banks (2001p6) defines them as "a set of fundamental moral or ethical principles, which social workers are or should be committed". ...read more.

Middle

A Person Centred Planning meeting was held enabling us to work in partnership with support workers in order to draw on everyone's expertise so as to foster humanity and open processes to enable V to lead a fulfilling life. I wanted to understand his world and felt awkward speaking about him whilst he sat there like a little child, probably wondering what we were talking about as Neil (in Adams 1998 p300) points out "...adults with learning disabilities can face infantilisation". It was not easy to engage V in conversation as he is deaf with no verbal communication. I had to observe his non-verbal communication which "includes observations about what people are wearing, how they are sitting, what they are doing with their hands, the expressions on the face, eye contact and the physical distance separating them" (O'Connor et al 1998 cited by Osmond 2005p 886) I found it difficult to interpret his non-verbal communication because I was seeing him for the first time. However, I noticed that V seemed uneasy and kept going out of the lounge where we were sitting, he took a while to settle down. I felt his behaviour was understandable, he did not know us and obviously felt edgy as most people do on meeting somebody for the first time. ...read more.

Conclusion

I learnt that advocacy is very important for a people like V who do not have a voice and that working with different agencies poses ethical dilemmas as each organisation has different shared cultural values. For example, in terms of "promoting independence and quality of life, whilst protecting service users from harm" (Placement Hand book 2005/2006 p90), which out weighs the other -independence or protection? What if the organisation gets sued? For some professionals decisions are effected by risks to self that is, back covering which makes it difficult to think objectively about each person's needs. It became clear to me that social workers dealt with complex and conflicting issues almost daily leading to misinformed judgements and therefore, supervision was a very important activity to thrash out any difficulties. In conclusion, social workers as agents of change attempt to alleviate inequalities and oppression within societies and need to be aware of the values underlying their work by referring to the code of ethics. By adopting values and anti-oppressive practice such as advocacy; social workers will be able to make informed decisions in addressing aspects, which relate to the provision of services to individuals who may have differing needs. Although I have explored the inherent conflicts that can arise when working with individuals who have complex issues, it is important to recognise these and discuss them during supervision. ...read more.

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