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Ethical awareness is a necessary part of the professional practice of any social worker

Ethical awareness is a necessary part of the professional practice of any social worker. His or her ability to act ethically is an essential aspect of the quality of the services offered to clients.

Discuss the implications of the above statement for social work practice and value of ethics for resolving dilemmas. redistribute


For the purpose of this essay I will demonstrate the value base of social work in its development and education, also looking at its effect and consequences.

The codes of ethics standards will be explained and considered of its effect and purpose, also its usefulness and guidance for the profession of social workers..

A case study will be discussed and analysed, showing anti-oppressive practice (sexual orientation, disability).

Social work has always been considered as a difficult and complex occupation, with a complicated and perplexing framework. This is due to its different settings accompanying different tasks.

An inevitable part of social work is its values and ethics and the questions and debates that surround its structure. Although values can be considered as personal and individualistic, it is also possible for a group with the same beliefs to share the same values, such as social work. It is important to acknowledge that values continually shape our actions and it is of the opinion of Ronnby (1992) "that someone becomes a social worker because they have the same ethics and values and attach them to the position".

Biestek developed traditional values in the late 50s. (Biestek, 1961). His principles outlined the basics of traditional social work and were constructed of a seven-point scheme.

The principles consisted of 1. Individualism. 2. Purposeful expression of feelings. 3. Controlled emotional involvement. 4. Acceptance. 5. Non-judgmental attitude 6. User self-determination. 7. Confidentiality,

Many of Biestek beliefs were very traditional and were criticised for their diversity in their interpretation. Controversies relating to different principles caused many problematic conclusions e.g. individualisation and confidentiality. Individualisation could not be possible in the fast moving modern world, people lose their identity and individualisation is not respected. Confidentiality has its limitations to be enforced e.g. If a user divulges information where someone will be harmed, the social workers duty is to share it as a right to other individuals. It was clear these key issues had to be developed and advanced to help social workers. dg.

It was considered that there must be guidance on values and ethics for social workers, as they play a major part in their work

Central Council for Education and Training in Social Work was a significant part in the development in education for social workers. It is also acknowledge by (CCETSW, 1998) that it is a necessary part as the title suggest, that social workers must gain an understanding of ethical awareness as part of the professional practice. Skill development gave social workers a range of skills that are needed to ensure that social work is a high quality profession. This hypothesis from

The CCETSW set out details of a number of competencies that they should be able to cover in their work. It is considered that there are two main ideologies within social work, social justice and personal caring. These were considered to be benefit for social workers as they exercised anti-oppressive practice.

They produced a list that social workers had to identify with..

This stated that a social worker:

1. Should be committed to:

v Respect and value of individuals

v Promote peoples rights to choice privacy protection and confidentiality, while looking at the rights and demands

v The right of individuals to make choices

v Strengths and skill embodied local communities

v Right of protection for those at risk

2. Social workers should be able to do:

v Develop awareness of inter-relationship of the process of structural oppression, race, class and gender

v Understand and counter act the impact of discrimination from poverty, age, disability and sectarianism

v Demonstrate an awareness of individual and institutional racism

v Understand gender issues and demonstrate anti-sexism in social work practice

v Promote policies and practices which are non- discriminatory and anti- oppressive

Demonstrating these skills in learning, acknowledge that they had competence in practice. The Central Council for Education in Social Work stated that 'practice must be founded on, informed by and capable of being judged against a clear value base' (CCETSW, 1995).

This knowledge base was very important, but it did not give ready-made answers as to how social workers should continue in any particular situation. However it gives lots of insight and clues about situations that social workers may face, it also enabled them to have an appropriate response for any particular predicament. Never the less it is still down to the individual social worker to acquire and expand their knowledge base for practising in social work. The range of skills that can develop from learning will be responsible for an established and high quality in the service that are offered to service users.

There are professional ethical standards that are relevant to social workers in practice. These allowed social workers to work at a professional standard and to behave professionally. These standards concern ethical responsibilities to clients, colleagues, social work profession and responsibilities to the broader society.

Some of the standards are guidelines for professional conduct, such as the code of ethics for social workers.

For social work the code of ethics plays a major role in its training, policy making and its professional literature. These guidelines provide a framework for making sense of the practice in social work.

The code of ethics for social workers (BASW 1996) was put in place in 1975 to ensure that social workers had a set of guidelines for professional activities.

The primary objective of the Code of Ethics is to make these pragmatic principles clear for the protection of clients and other members of society. Its principal objectives are to ensure that the professional social workers were recognised as a non-bias worker.

The code covered two main areas, including principles and practice,

The statement of principles covers social workers understanding and identifying of the values and dignity for every human being, irrespective of origin, race, status, sex, sexual orientation, age, disability, or religious belief.

Social workers are expected to prevent and eliminate exploitation and discrimination against any person, group, or class on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, colour, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, political belief, religion, or mental or physical disability.

Millerson (1964) argued that the code of ethics could become irrelevant, as it was difficult to use, as it could not be dominated by one specific area within social work.

Millerson noted that there were many areas of specialist including child protection, community care, mental health and family therapy, that it becomes more difficult use the code as a principal source of moral guidance. Ethical awareness is a necessary part of the professional practice of any social worker. His or her ability to act ethically is an essential aspect of the quality of the service offered to clients.

It has been thought that the code of ethics was set in place to allow social work to be recognised as a professional occupation. Social workers were expected to Identify and interpret the basis and nature of individual, group, community and social problems. Illustrating their ability to recognise professional and personal limitations, and refrain from any behaviour that may damage the profession.

The uncertainty of day to day practice brings with it many ethical dilemmas, which are a challenge for many social workers. The complexities of ethical dilemmas arise when a social worker has two or more possible undesirable conclusions that go against their own moral principals, these dilemmas cause a battle because they have to make a choice and they don't know which one is right.

We can consider this with a case study that outlines a number of problems and a potentiality of anti-oppressive practices, sexual orientation and disability (case study in appendix 1.).

We can see that the social worker Jane has a problem with Angie and Breda's sexuality, as she is herself heterosexual. Her strong personal values on sexuality are considered. She has identified that she has a problem with her personal beliefs and acknowledges it. She must then practice anti-oppression and ensure that she does not contribute to discrimination.

Liz and Polly are both also looking for help and support from Jane, as they are concerned with Angie and Breda's behaviour. However through interaction Jane could use her position and power to influence both Liz and Polly, a possible outcome is for Brenda and Angie, is that they will not to be allowed to see each other and Angie to be moved.

It is expected that Jane should not to be influenced by anyone's sexual orientation, as this is set out by many codes of ethics, whether by the profession or individual agency.

Another oppressive area could be with Angie and her disability, is she considered not to be able to make her own sexual decisions because of her learning disability? Liz uses oppressive behaviour to attempt to control where her daughter can live and make use of Jane to enforce her beliefs. Is it then right for Jane, Polly and Liz, to decide what her future should be, without considering Angie feelings? Power in situations such as this can be very damaging and can result in an unpleasant ending.

Another consideration for Jane is the resources of placements and carers; this puts pressure on her from agencies and government local authorities, as good placements and careers are hard to get and if Jane was to upset Polly they may lose her as a career.

This case study has illustrated a number of problems that need professional guidance and skilled knowledge.

Jane must maintain the client's right to a relationship of trust, to privacy and confidentiality. She is expected to recognise and respect the individual goals, responsibilities, and differences of clients. Professional service shall assist clients to take responsibility for personal actions and help all clients with equal willingness.

Social work is a decision making occupation that can lead to many problems, the feeling of guilt and blame for the outcome of many decisions that they have been involved in.

This may cause much stress and strain for social workers in having to make major decisions and choices, but also to take responsibility for any outcomes that may go wrong.

This essay has described the value base of social work in its development and education, also looking at its effect and consequences. Learning base work can give possible solution as to how social workers should proceed in a situation; it can also give lots of insights into fields that they have no experience in.

The codes of ethics standards were explained and considered it has been argued of its effect and purpose, its usefulness and its guidance for the profession of social workers. How we deal with them will always be a challenging and stimulating process for all social workers. There are many instances in professional social work where simple answers are not available to resolve complex ethical issues.

A case study has been discussed and analysed, showing anti-oppressive practice. It is shown that power and oppression of all kinds must be regulated and resisted, we must acknowledge that power and oppression is always present in individuals and within society.

In conclusion social work can be a challenging subject and one that will actively push the boundaries of all social workers on a personal level and professional level. It is agreed within social work that ethics, morals and values are all an inescapable part of professional practice and 'Ethical awareness is a necessary part of practice of any social work' (IFSW, 1994).

Values and ethics are not simply reasonable matters that we can unravel through logical arguments; they are a combination of thoughts and feelings closely linked to action. There must be distinctions on how to apply social work values and ethics into their professional work, without causing personal conflict.

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