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Legal And Ethical Aspects Of Social Care

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This essay will discuss the student's role within a residential care home in relation to legal and ethical aspects of health and social care. The essay will be looking at legislation that is in place to protect both the residents and staff of the home which is run for the care of young children. This will also look at values and ethics and why they are important. This will then go on to discuss the student's role as a support worker and their duties towards the residents. This essay will also look at ethics and values and how we learn these throughout our lives.

Ethics is about making commitment towards positive values to help with the well being of the individuals within the society Warnock (19980) cited in (Banks 2006). Ethics refers to beliefs and value system to moral community, social and professionals groups.  To live in the society and to have flourishing people within the society individuals must have rules and regulations in place so that people can be prevented from any kind of harm and so that they can live a healthy life style. Ethics promotes education and training to assist individuals to develop the skills needed to compete and to achieve the response for moral action. Warnock (19980) cited in (Banks 2006) states that are three types of ethics and these are Metaethics which relates to moral judgement, it comprises of critical and analytical thinking of whether something is good, right or duty. Normative ethics is about morals; it attempts to find answers for problems for example the morally right of action in some cases could be if an individual is a morally good human being or if lying is always wrong.  Descriptive ethics is about individual's moral opinions, beliefs and how people would react with certain issues. For example in Britain people always morally believe that abortion is wrong.

Values are about the standards of evil and good and they govern people's choices and behaviour.  People's values are derived from the government and the society Timms (1983) cited in Banks (2006).  Values are mostly used to refer to moral cultural, religion, ideological beliefs, attitudes, political, options and preferences.  Values can be regarded as several types of beliefs that individuals hold about what is valuable or worthy. Giddens (1993) cited in Kirby et al (2000) sates that values can be seen as a fundamental belief that underpins communities, societies and provide general principle for the human behaviour. 

Individuals are socialised through the family, community, peer groups, education and mass media.  According to Giddens (1993) cited in Kirby et al (2000) there are two types of socialisation: primary and secondary socialisation.  Primary socialisation is given to the child from parents, grandparents and siblings.  This involves learning the basics of communication and the language the child is born in.  This is the first stage in a lifelong process and the child is taught the basic norms and values. Secondary socialisation is followed on from primary socialisation and this is given through many multiplicities of agencies that involve in secondary socialisation. This is given through education, religion, mass media, peer groups and books.  Children who are socialised will know how to behave and to interact with people from different backgrounds and will learn to become independent and acquire both personal and social identity.   

I do voluntary work at a private residential care home which is not a part of the NHS.  The home provides twenty four hour care for young people.  It also has the facilities for an onsite private school, where the young people are provided with an education according to their ability.  Some of the young people have never been to school or have had a fractured education.  The principle teacher plans lessons for each individual young person and provides one to one to support to help them meet their education requirements so that they can achieve one of the five outcomes of every child matters.  These young people are in residential care due to many different circumstances some have suffered abuse, neglect, behavioural problems, misuse of substances and disadvantaged backgrounds.

Ethical issues within a work place come in many different forms.  Banks (2006) identified four types of issues that frequently have resulted in ethical problems or dilemmas.  There are issues on public welfare, issues on individual rights and welfare, issues around relationships, boundaries and professional roles.

There are many ethical issues within the residential home. My role as a student support worker is to assist the teacher in preparing and delivering lessons to the young people, as these young people have a history of absconding, vandalising and could harm themselves or others, the home has to ensure they are under strict supervision twenty hours a day. During the week l take the young people for various activities, such as going to the gym, swimming, bowling and shopping so that they are given the opportunity to interact and socialise with other members of their community.   While we were at the gym, one of the service users, who is thirteen years old started a conversation about his personal life.  A service user divulge to me that when he absconds from the residential home he goes to see a young woman and has unprotected sex with her, when I questioned him about how old this young women was, he said fifteen years old, I was shocked to discover this and asked him where her parents were when he goes to see her, he told me that her parents were at work and she is on her own.   The service user then asked me to keep this confidential.  I explained that I could not make this promise, as part of my role was to report concerns to qualified staff, if l discovered information which could be potentially dangerous to a service user or other members of the public (REF - job description). Therefore I made him no promise as this was an ethical issue, where both these young people were having unprotected sex and were under age.

Miller (2000) argues that it is very important to promote anti-discriminatory practice. The advantages of implementing anti-discriminatory practice would be that staff would be able to work together as a team, communicate with each other, improve their practice, would acknowledge any problems or concerns and would agree with each other on appropriate changes.  Team work can provide opportunities to take collective actions based on consensus.  This will look good and benefit the service users.  However if a practice does not promote anti-discriminatory practice it will suffer lack of support from colleagues or management, lack of interest, resources, time and staff.  If staff is unable to communicate with each other they will not be able to provide a good standard of service and as a result service users can leave the practice and go somewhere else where they would feel they are receiving better service. The residential home promotes anti-discriminatory practice and all the staff communicates and supports each other, because of this it was not difficult for me to approach my manager about this issue, my manger took immediate action to protect both young people.  She made the young woman's parents aware of the issue and then contacted the relevant department and reported this incident and also asked me to update the log book, where everything is logged to keep an up to date record.

There are many legislations relating to looked after children.  The residential home has to comply with all of them to ensure that the young people are protected and safeguarded.  The children's Act (1989) was an act to reform the law relating to children in community homes, voluntary homes, residential care homes or any other organisation. The Care Standard Act (2000) is an act to institute a National care Standards Commissions and it replaces the registered Homes act (1984). The National Minimum Standards for Children's Homes (2000) are the latest standards that the Children's home should work towards.  The Children's Homes regulation Act (2001) is an act where OFSTED observe on how the standards and regulations work together in practice.  The Data protection Act (1998) is an act for the service users so that they safeguard the integrity of the young people, other workers and clients.  The Protection of Children Act (1999) is an Act where everyone who is involved in working with the children has to complete a CRB check to ensure that they are the right people and trusted to work with the young service users.

The residential home follows a code of conduct (see appendix) where all employees have to follow the rules and regulations accordingly as it is a guidance for safe working practice for adults who work with young people and children distributed by the government. All members of staff and visitors have to adhere to the policy as to ensure that everyone's behaviour constitute a safe practice and which behaviours should be avoided. It aims to ensure that the duty of promoting and safeguarding and wellbeing of the young people is achieved. All staff at the home have duty and are accountable for the ways in which they exercise authority, use resources, manage risk, and how to protect young people and children from physical, sexual and emotional harm. All employees must understand the responsibility of their role and be aware that disciplinary action can be taken against them if these provisions are breached. All employees have access to the confidentiality files and can only be shared with other agency when it is in the best interest of the young person. If for any reason things goes wrong or the children make a complaint through advocacy or social workers, the residential home would be accountable to the OFSTED and any further action would be taken from there. The code of conduct sets clear boundaries between the employees and the service users. (See appendix code of conduct)

There are many theories based on how a person should act morally. According to Kant (1948) cited in Edwards (2009) Deontological theory emphasis on moral duty. Kant argues that lying is morally wrong. Kant only believes in telling the truth regardless of what the circumstances and consequences are. Whether it makes someone happy or sad, one should not morally lie For example telling a very critical person that he has not long to live, would be the last thing they want to hear, but on the other hand it will give them a chance to do things as informing their member of family about his last wishes.

However Mill (1962) cited in Edwards (2009) Utilitarianism theorist disagrees with Kant, as he argues that acts are morally right if by lying you can make someone happy. For example telling someone that a member of their family died peacefully, although he died with a lot of pain, would make them feel a bit better, however if they reveal that he died in a lot of pain and agony can also jeopardise the relationship with the professionals and they would not trust them.

This essay has demonstrated how values and ethics are an important part in people's lives and how individuals are socialised through primary and secondary socialisation. It has also discussed the student's role within a residential care setting and how important it is to follow recognised codes of conduct. The issue of reporting moral or ethical issues, respecting all individuals and maintaining confidentiality at all times has also been addressed. This essay has also looked at different theories and how they can contradict each other. It has also looked at legislation that protects the service user and employee. Working in a care profession you must always make sure that every individual is treated with respect and not to make judgements on anyone regarding their backgrounds, sexuality, race, culture.


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