Values and Ethics an Ethical Dilemma

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Social Work Values and Ethics

This essay will explore an ethical dilemma reaching an ethical resolution using Steinman’s framework for decision making, social work ethics and values showing how these are underpinned in practice and using PCS analysis, reflecting on the ways in which inequality and discrimination impinges on clients’ life’s. Social work principles as defined in British Association of Social Work (BASW) and the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) will also be examined.

According to Banks (2006, p.6) values are “particular types of belief that people hold about what is regarded as worthy or valuable”, values “determine what a person thinks he ought to do” Central Council for Education and Training in Social Work (CCETSW) (1976:14 cited in Beckett and Maynard). Social work values are based on the principal “respect for persons” Plant (1970 cited in Banks 2006, p.29) which comes from the writings of German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804). From these writings Biestek developed seven principles for effective practice. Kantian principles are individulisation, purposeful expression of feelings, controlled emotional development, acceptance, non-judgemental attitude, service user self-determination and confidentiality. All of these are open to interpretation and will mean different things to different people, which is why professional codes should be consulted.

Beckett and Maynard (2006, p.24) define ethics as “codes, or principles of conduct.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Principles, on which decisions as to action should be based, derived from a specific value system, principles on which decisions should be based in a specific professional context (Professional Ethics).” Ethics are the moral standards from which social work codes of practice are framed.  

Social workers should always consider the inequalities and discrimination clients face daily and how these may impinge on clients life. Thompson (2006) uses a Personal, Cultural and Structural (PCS) model to help understand discrimination. The personal area looks at the psychological aspects of discrimination and how personal experiences will become apparent in our attitudes. The cultural aspect of the model is about what are perceived as the norms in society and the shared beliefs of society about what is right and wrong. The structural section of the model is making reference to the structure of society and includes within it media, religion and government (Thompson, 2006). I will incorporate this model for identifying discrimination within this essay.

In the case study which I am going to use Kate wishes her 2 children to be cared for by Frances. I am going to use Steinman’s ethical decision making framework for the helping professionals (Steinman, 1998) to help resolve an ethical dilemma, which allows the practitioner to follow a systematic approach to making decisions, acts as a safety device against errors and enables good practice DHSS (1982 cited in Brayne and Preston-Shoot 1997).

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Before working through the ethical decision making process I believe it is in the best interests of both Kate and the children to stay together as a family. The ethical dilemma is Kate’s rights to self determination versus the rights and welfare of the children. I will work through the ethical decision making framework and then reflect on my initial decision, changing it if required.

The first step involved in resolving the ethical dilemma is to identify the ethical standard involved (Steinman 1998). BASW’s Code of Ethics for Social Workers (2002) includes several points of ethical practice which should be ...

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