There are four main ethical ideas that should be taken into account in the health and social care sector. They are:
* Justice – People must be treated fairly and equally regardless of their background. * Autonomy – A person’s choice must be respected. * Beneficence – This involves risks and costs; the health care professional should act in a way that is beneficial to the patient. * Non-maleficence – Any harm caused by treatment should not be greater than the benefits of the treatment. The underpinning principles and values of care practice are centred upon ethical principles and put the individual at the main focus of the health and social care provision.
Putting the individual at the heart of service provision To put the individual at the heart of service provision, the health and social care service providers need to: * Provide support consistent with the beliefs, culture and choices of the individual. * Support the service users in the expression of their needs and preferences. * Empower individuals. * Promote and encourage individual rights, choices and well being.
Providing active support consistent with the beliefs, culture and preferences of the individual Active support involves helping an individual as much as possible and taking their beliefs, culture and preferences into account when making choices in a health and social care setting. For example, if you are caring for a Jewish person in a retirement home you would need to ensure that Kosher food is available for them as well as what they would need in order to worship. Another example would be a student joining a teacher’s class who has learning difficulties. The teacher and school would have to ensure that the child is listened to and given any support that they might require with sensitivity and respect. They may also require the support of an advocate. The main forms of support may be:
* Advice and guidance * Medical and care planning information * Physical support such as personal care * Social support * Mental health support such as coping strategies
Mental health support – coping strategies This has to be treated with thoughtfulness and sensitivity. If someone is identified as needing mental health support, they should have access to services such as social workers, community nurses, occupational therapists and psychiatrists. Other services available are psychologists, counsellors and community support workers such as home helps. These services are in place to take care of the health and social care needs of people who suffer with mental health problems. It’s important that the service users are aware that they must always seek advice from professional services. Supporting individuals to express their needs and preferences This for example could mean the support of an individual who is deaf and needs to find other ways to express their needs and preferences.
A health and social care service provider could put the service user in touch with British Sign Language interpreters, Deaf-blind interpreters, lip-speakers, note-takers and speech-to-text reporters. Another reason that an individual may need this kind of support is if they do not speak English and require an interpreter. This is particularly common in hospitals. The interpreter may be a friend or relative or even a person specifically hired to be an interpreter in health and social care settings. Essentially, the interpreter should be anyone who can help the service user express their needs and preferences. All of this is important in the process of keeping the person informed about what is happening to them so they can communicate their preferences and needs.
If everything that needs to be done for an individual’s care is explained and checked over with them, they can be empowered. This gives them the control over the service they receive and leaves them with the confidence that they are the main priority. Empowering an individual ensures that no decisions are made on their behalf, even if it is in their best interests. The service user has to be able to make decisions themselves and it’s important that the health and social care service provider presents them with all the information they need to make an informed decision. The service provider must also respect the choice of the individual regardless of if the decisions and choices they make aren’t necessarily right in their own opinion.
Promoting individuals’ rights, choices and well-being
Individual rights can be encouraged and promoted through a number of ways. For example, help can be offered with language and communication for those who cannot effectively communicate due to disabilities, illness or the fact that English is not their first language. Information must be provided in a number of forms such as Braille, pictures and in a range of languages. It’s important that a qualified translator is involved in the production of information, for example in medical advice, so that the grammar is correct. If it is wrong, the service user may feel under-valued and silly.
Balancing individual rights with the rights of others
Balancing an individual’s rights with the rights of others is possible as long as you have good organisational, communication and negotiating skills. Everyone within the health and social care service must work together to come to a solution for individual rights that suites everybody.
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