Professional Ethics, Values and Legal context in Social work

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"Professional Ethics, Values and Legal Context in Social Work"

This essay will focus on values  and ethical  issues, it will identify and critically explore the legal context and the ethical dilemmas arising in practice for the worker in case study.   The essay will define ethics, how we get ethics, the reason  we have code of ethics and why it is important to social work practice. The essay will give a brief summary of case study. The essay will define what a dilemma is, and will use theoretical concept and the arguments contained within the case study, debates and arguments.

Mr and Mrs Finch, aged 91 and 86, were admitted to residential care by the night duty team, on by the referral of warden of the sheltered accommodation where they live. The couple were reported as being unable to cope with every day life. There was pressure from the family, the warden, and senior social worker colleagues, for them to be admitted permanently to residential care. When the trainee social worker visited them. The couple were suffering from impaired memory function. They could not (comprehend) Understand why they had been admitted to residential care, but were categorical that they wanted to return home. The trainee social worker felt the couple should be allowed to return home on the basis of their individual right to choose.

In the reality of significant changes that have taken place in the practice of social work throughout its history, social workers have continued to embrace a set of values central to the profession. There have been both challenges to and constructive changes in the value base of the profession, but the key elements of this foundation have endured.

Although there has been considerable stability in the core values of the profession, it would be a mistake to conclude that the day-to-day ethical issues that social workers encounter have remained static. To the contrary applications of core values in social work have undergone substantial change over the years in response to social, political, and economic developments.

The subject of ethics and values in social work is broad in scope. It encompasses three distinguishable and related sets of issues. The relevance of the profession's value base to its overall mission, goals, and priorities is the first concern. Second concern would be the ethical decisions and dilemmas that the social workers encounter as they carry out their professional duties, and lastly, it relates to practitioner misconduct and the enforcement of ethical standards in the profession.

Value of Social Work

The profession of social work historically has been committed to enhancing the welfare of people who encounter problems related to poverty, mental health, health care, employment, shelter and housing, abuse, aging, childhood, hunger, and so on. As the profession has evolved, it has continually stressed the need to attend both to the needs of individual clients and to the ways that the community and society respond to these needs. Thus, there has always been a simultaneous concern in social work for individual well being and the environmental factors that affect it.

According to Pumphrey, individuals' values are "formulations of preferred behavior held by individuals or social groups. They imply a usual preference for certain means, ends and conditions of life, often being accompanied by strong feeling" (Pumphrey, 1959). Rokeach offered what has become a classic definition of value in The Nature of Human Values: "an enduring belief that a specific mode or end state of existence is personally or socially preferable to an opposite or converse mode or end state of existence" (Rokeach, 1973).

From this point of view, one must distinguish among ultimate, proximate, and instrumental values. Ultimate values are broadly conceived and provide general guidance to a group's long-term aims. In social work, values such as respect for people, equality, and non-discrimination might constitute ultimate values. Proximate values are more specific and suggest shorter-term goals. In social work they might take the form of policies related to welfare clients' right to health care or affordable housing, or psychiatric patients' right to refuse certain types of treatment. Finally, instrumental values specify desirable means to desirable ends. In social work respecting clients' right to confidentiality, self-determination, and informed consent might be considered instrumental values.( Banks 2001:p 57)

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Common Base

Pumphrey offered a comprehensive typology of social work values, placing them into three categories of value-based objectives. The first focuses on the relationship between social work values and values operating in the culture at large with respect to, for example, social justice, social change, and basic human needs. The second category focuses on internal relationships within the professional membership, for example, the ways in which the profession interprets and implements its values and encourages ethical behavior. The final category focuses on social workers' attempts to understand and respond to clients' values (Pumphrey, 1959).

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