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"Describe some relevant legislation and ethical issues facing occupational therapists in health and social care services".

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Introduction

"Describe some relevant legislation and ethical issues facing occupational therapists in health and social care services". Throughout their working day, Occupational Therapists must make many decisions concerning the actions they take with their clients. These decisions are based on the therapist drawing on their professional clinical, ethical and legal reasoning skills (Alsop 1996). The practice of Occupational Therapists in the United Kingdom is regulated by many Acts of Parliament. Occupational therapy practice in all possible areas of service must take place within the boundaries of the law and specific legislation to guide work with specific client groups exists such as The Childrens Act 1989, and The Mental Health (Patients in the Community) Act 1995. Other Acts influence the working practice of Occupational Therapists; these include The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 and The Data Protection Act 1984. It is important for Occupational Therapists to have an accurate and up-to-date knowledge because their client's needs may be met through the enactment of an act of parliament. In 1998 a survey of American Occupational Therapists, (Kyler 1998), revealed that around fifty-percent of therapists interviewed reported that they were confronted with an ethical issue at work at least weekly during the course of their work. ...read more.

Middle

In their review of assisted suicide and its implications for occupational therapy, Royeen and Crabtree (1999) identified that patients with a terminal illness may seek to end their life because of depression, social isolation, persistent pain and physical debilitation. These potentially treatable conditions alter the outlook of these patients making death seem more desirable than continuing to live. Working from an occupational therapy perspective can help to alleviate these conditions, giving the patient the support they may be looking for. This presents a situation that requires an Occupational Therapist to use both ethical and legal reasoning to determine how they can help people. From an ethical approach, if a client made the decision to end their life the code of ethics clause 2.1.1 says that clients normally have a right to make decisions about their health and any choices and decisions should be respected even if they conflict with professional opinion (College of Occupational Therapists 2000). Difficulties may arise when considering the value of 'autonomy'. According to clause 3.3 in providing services to clients Occupational Therapists should uphold and promote the autonomy of the individual. ...read more.

Conclusion

The act offers protection by enabling the individual to obtain an injunction that prevents threats of dismissal or unfavourable working conditions. As with many situations in practice, there is a need for sound ethical reasoning and knowledge of legislation. Malpractice and its prevention is of central concern to the code of ethics of any profession, and the Code of Ethic and Professional Conduct for Occupational Therapists (College of Occupational Therapists 2000) contains requirements both to prevent it occurring and also to report its occurrence. The Public Interest Disclosure Bill (1998) and the requirement of the code to report and prevent malpractice means that no Occupational Therapist should hesitate to report anything they have witnessed if they consider it detrimental to the service provided to the public. Acts of Parliament and a Code of Ethics for a profession make an essential contribution to the knowledge which members of that profession use when making clinical decisions. It is important that Occupational Therapists are aware of changes that occur in the legal context that they practice, it can be modified by new Acts of Parliament and new decisions in courts. ...read more.

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