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Responsibilities of care practitioners to act ethically

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Responsibilities of care practitioners to act ethically (1.3:1) Acting in the best interest of service users The primary goal of everyone working in health and social care is to act in the best interests of service users. For example: > doctors try to improve their patient's health, or at least their quality of life > nurses care for patients by meeting their needs > social workers try to improve the day-to-day life of service users > care assistants give people the practical they need. The right of service users to expect practitioners to act in their best interests is reinforced by professional codes of conduct, and legislation such as the Mental Health Act 1983 and the NHS and Community Care Act 1990. Assessing risk to individual groups The decisions which health and social care practitioners make can have far reaching implications. Prior to taking action I a particular case, they have a responsibility to assess whether: > the person is at risk from their own behaviour > the person is at risk from other people's actions > the person's family, friends and carers are at risk from the person's behaviour. ...read more.


Before asking questions and recording personal details, practitioners should explain why they need the information and how they are going to use it. In turn, service users should be able to insist that details are kept completely confidential, and not shared with their family, friends other workers, and so on. People's rights to confidentiality are reinforced by several pieces of legislation: > the Data Protection Act 1984 aims to ensure the confidentiality of information stored on computer. It sets rules on the personal information which can be held electronically, stating that information must be: * obtained legally, * used in the way specified when it was collected, * kept accurate and up to date * confidential, but available to those who have a right to see it. > the Access to Health Records Act 1990 and the Access to Personal Files Act 1987 establish procedures for handling confidentiality data. Empowering service users Empowerment means enabling people to make choices and promoting their rights as individuals. Even making simple decisions - such as what to wear, who to sit next to at dinner and watch on TV - helps a person to maintain their independence and dignity. ...read more.


This may mean tackling ethical dilemmas such as: * Is a heart operation on a child more important than a hip operation on an elderly person? * Should resources be directed into buying vital new equipment, which might save hundreds, rather than continuing the treatment of a young person with leukaemia who has a slim chance of survival? Giving information A common dilemma faced by practitioners is deciding: * What information people need to know * Who needs to know it. Everyone has the right to enough information to make decisions about their treatment. For example, before signing a consent form for major surgery, a patient needs to know the pros and cons of going ahead with the operation. Their surgeon should explain the operation using simple language, make notes and draw diagrams for the patients where needed. As well as deciding what information to give, health and social care practitioners often face ethical dilemmas when it comes to passing on knowledge to other people. They have a responsibility to keep information confidential, but may feel the service user's family has a right to know something. Or they may they can't cope with a case on their own, and decide to ask a colleague for advice. Handling conflicting values and beliefs Everyone has their own set own set of values and beliefs. ...read more.

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