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TitleValues and Ethics
Tags Evaluation Social Exclusion Value (Ethics) Caregiver
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Total Pages192
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Page 96


Clearly paragraph (d) supports an ethical stance to challenge your employer. In particular,
the bullet points outlined make it clear your duty is to challenge if you feel an employer’s
policies run counter to the interests of service users, especially if they operate unfairly or
are oppressive and disempowering. Your employer may argue that by cutting domiciliary
services across the board they do not discriminate against any one service user. However,

Chapter 4 Being accountable


If we return to the case of Mr Barry, we have already outlined in the comment possible
courses of action. From the definition of social work above from the British Association of
Social Workers (BASW), what elements could be used by you to justify challenging your
employer’s actions?


2. Definition of Social Work

Social workers will:

(a) Strive to carry out the stated aims of their employing organisation, provided that they
are consistent with this Code of Ethics;

(b) Aim for the best possible standards of service provision and be accountable for their

(c) Use the organisation's resources honestly and only for their intended purpose;

(d) Appropriately challenge, and work to improve, policies, procedures, practices and
service provisions which:

� Are not in the best interests of service users;

� Are inequitable or unfairly discriminatory; or

� Are oppressive, disempowering, or culturally inappropriate;

(e) Endeavour, if policies or procedures of employing bodies contravene professional
standards, to effect change through consultation, using appropriate organisational

(f) Take all reasonable steps to ensure that employers are aware of the Code of Ethics for
Social Work, and advocate conditions and policies which reflect its ethical position;

(g) Uphold the ethical principles and responsibilities of this Code, even though employers’
policies or instructions may not be compatible with its provisions, observing the values
and principles of this Code when attempting to resolve conflicts between ethical
principles and organisational policies and practices.

BASW Code of Practice (2001)

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you may want to argue that in respect of Mr Barry the cut in service may have the conse-
quences of being particularly oppressive and discriminatory if it means he is unable to
support himself in the community like others in a similar position.

By advocating for Mr Barry you are operating in a responsive fashion within the con-
straints of your position as a social worker, paid by the state to enact a particular role. This
means as a paid employee you are subsequently accountable to your employer and if you
are unable to manage this tension between service users and your employing organisation
then you need to consider if the role of social worker is one that you feel capable of carry-
ing out (see Table 4.1).

Table 4.1 Nature of conflicts with service user

Enact social change Enact social control

Advise Direct

Enable Control

Advocate Manage

Accountability and the law
One of the main reasons for becoming a social worker comes from the desire to help those
at risk of exploitation and social exclusion. As a social worker, it is easy to see the law as a
hindrance to what you might think of as real social work. The law, as noted above, is imper-
fect but at any one time it represents what is considered to be the will of the citizens in a
democratic process whereby law is legislated through Parliament. The law gives social
workers much room for exercising their judgement and discretion but cannot work unless
that discretion is used wisely. The law, with all its problems, provides a framework which:

� establishes social work agencies and sets out procedures for helping;

� sets standards for when it is appropriate, and when it is necessary, for action to be taken;

� provides a framework for holding social workers to account.

The law often needs improving, but, for the social worker and others, it cannot be
ignored. It is law, and not ideals, which sets out, sometimes with clarity but sometimes
with confusion, what social workers are required to do, who they are accountable to,
who they have responsibilities towards, and to some extent the overarching principles
which govern public services. This is not to say that law is separate from ethics; best
practice is both legally and ethically informed, but the imperative for the social worker
in deciding how to respond to complex ethical dilemmas is to ensure that their chosen
course of action is lawful (Brayne and Carr, 2005, p1).

In being accountable it is clear that when service users’ interests conflict with the state’s
interests, an ethical conflict is presented to the social worker. In certain cases this conflict is
less problematic. To override a service user’s wishes may result in the protection from harm
of that person or protecting others from the harmful effects of those service users’ actions.
Using force or acting against service users’ wishes if they are damaging others may be

Chapter 4 Being accountable


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protection continued
see also child protection; overprotection

Protection of Vulnerable Adults (POVA) 94
prudential reason 19
Psy discourse 16
Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 156
Putting People First 102

qualifying disclosures 154–7
qualities, social workers 60t
Quality Protects programme 108
quasi-market 148

R v Gloucestershire County Council, ex parte Barry
[1997] 75, 76

Rabbit-proof fence 27, 32
Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2001 140
racial hostility 19, 30, 126–7
radical model, anti-oppressive practice 25
radical social work movement 20–1
rational technical social work 2, 4t, 60
rationalisation 19, 148
rationality 50–1, 52, 53–4

see also practical reason
reflective practice xiv–xv, 82, 84, 146
reflexive culture 91
reformist model, anti-oppressive practice 25
relationship-based ethics 61, 131
relativism 32, 33
respect 32, 53, 58
responsibility 15, 88, 91
right action 134

advocacy and 104
of citizenship 105
‘othering’ and the denial of 29
service users 120
social workers 12, 120
to freedom 95
see also general rights; parents’ rights; special

risk analysis 90
risk assessment 91, 99
risk assessment schedules 94
risk averse society 88, 92
risk avoidance 88, 90
risk management 86–100

case study 96–7
community care assessment 5
conflicts and dilemmas 93–100
in social work 87–92

risk orientation 92t
risk sharing 89
risk society 87

bureaucracy and conformity to 144
see also specific rules

Scotland, Children’s Commissioner 108
scrutiny, increased 3
secondary level, intervention 45

caring for 115–16
ethics and others 111

self-advocacy 103, 107
self-determination 107, 119
self-governance 91
self-interest 19, 53, 148
self-reflection, critical 82, 84
sensitivity 29–30
separatist approach 5–6
service provision, disabled people 104
service user movements 1–2
service users

action undertaken on behalf of 106
anti-oppressive practice 37–46
criticisms of social workers 73
difficulties in thinking rationally 53
expectations x–xi
involvement in mental health services 100
legislation for increased participation by 108
local authorities’ duty to provide information to

nature of conflicts with 78t
priority of interests 119
rights 120
self-determination 119
social justice 24
what they value 69–74
see also social worker-service user relationship

service withdrawal, local authorities’ powers 75
shared values 18–19
siege mentality 5
sincerity 134
skills, inter-professional working 127–8
Smith, Adam 94
social class

mortality risk 27
see also class conflict

social conduct, regulation of 90–1
social differentiation 26
social exclusion 133
social insurance 87
social justice

anti-oppressive practice 24, 132
duty to maintain 12
public bodies, legal duties 140
values 20, 41f

social mandate, social work 72–3
social rights 104
social risk 98–9
social services

hybrid 148
percentage spend, support needs 91

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see also service provision; service users; service

social work
advocacy 102
controlling 3f
definitions vii, 74
educational requirements ix–xiii
partnership 124–37
risk and 87–92
social mandate 72–3
and trade unions 116–18
values see values
virtue-based 58–9
wider community 114

social work organisations 139–57
alienation from 5
as moral communities 132
need for in present form 70
and risk 93

social worker-service user relationship 21, 147
social workers

assertive 115
developing empowering practice 41
educational requirements ix–xiii
importance of values 130–1
legal protection of title 12–13
obligations 12
professional identity 70, 129, 135
qualities 60t
responsibilities 11f
rights 12, 120
service users’ criticisms of 73
siege mentality 5
as street-level bureaucrats 48
what service users value 69

socially acceptable behaviour 61
sound judgement 58, 59
Southall Sisters 38
special rights 120
specific rules 80, 81
standardised practice 2
state control 71, 72f, 73
strategic action 132
street-level bureaucrats 48
subject skills viii–ix
supervision 111–14, 115
support, in social work 96f
support needs, percentage spend on 91
supportive supervision 112

tacit knowledge 82
Taylor, Alison 13
telling the truth 51, 52
tertiary level, intervention 45

The Trial 143
third culture 37
three-stage approach, intervention 45
toleration, cultural 32
trade unions, and social work 116–18
traditional values 20–2
trust 12–13

ethics of partnership 134
see also ethical truth; telling the truth

turn-taking 62
type 2 diabetes 149–50

UNISON 93, 117
universality 51
utilitarian consequentialism 54–6

validity claims, consensus 132
value systems 14, 19, 21

anti-oppressive practice 23–30
case study 10
conflict of 94
cultural relativism 30–7
defined 13–14
importance for social workers 130–1
inter-professional working 127
political and social context 1–12
process of acquiring 15–16
professional 135, 136
purpose of 17
risk management 100
social justice 41f
traditional 20–2

Valuing People (DoH) 108
virtue ethics 58–9, 61
virtue theory 58

Wales, Children’s Commissioner 108
welfare state 87–8, 147
welfarism 70, 73
well-being 95
well-being orientation 92t
whistle-blowing 154–7

case study 155
definition 154
qualifying disclosures 154–7

white culture 30
wider community, social work 114
Wild Swans 52
wisdom 58
women, moral development 62
Working in Partnership 133
Working Together to Safeguard Children 39

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