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Schools of Ethical Philosophy

Duty Principled action to individual universal application Action based on the common good/happiness Utilitarian of group/majority Challenge normative power relations Radical-marxist


feminist Reflective-Existential humanist Modernism

We are each the captains of our ship essentialism derived from experience

We can (as a human race) derive universal values/truisms things we hold to be self evident We (as a human race) cannot

Post modernism ConstructionistNarrati ve

Personal Values are.

What we choose to regard as ethically relevant or worth owning and standing up for They say something about us and who we are Although we may hold values in common with others the set of values we come to hold are individual to us.

Personal Values
Our personal value base is unique to us there is no written format of what they are/should be. We can make a marked improvement in our own lives by committing to the values we already believe in or by adopting new ones. We need to identify the values we hold as an individual and consider how these values influence us and the impact they may have on not only our own lives but ultimately on others.

Where do they come from? Once formed are they set

Personal influences such as family, friends and peers. Other factors such as culture we are brought up in.

Education, religion, societal morals and perceptions, law and policy.

Internalised ethical beliefs Media to name but a few. Can values can be adjusted and changed according to circumstances?


Macrosystem wider social and cultural factors

Exosystem local community, resources

Chronosystem the influence of growth and development over time

Microsystem -siblings

Microsystem parents


Crawford and Walker (2003:20)

Moral development
Choices on the basis of immediate consequences May choose an ethical alternative if in their own self-interest Morality defined by fear of external influences, i.e. authority, parents (Kohlberg: 1976)

Conventional Level
Decisions made in accordance with formal rules Rooted in informal norms of social context Choose ethical alternatives at a cost to themselves

Post conventional level

Decisions based on human rights, fairness, justice Ignore self interests May violate societys rights and norms

Why do values matter?

Attention to our values helps us; Become more self-aware. Make ethical decisions. Develop credibility, Understanding one's own core values is integral to becoming self-aware. Self-awareness helps us understand how people perceive us, it enables us to identify the personal qualities that we would like to change. Values influence our choices, but our choices also influence our values.

What would you do?

Carry on walking? Acknowledge her? Give her some money?

How this demonstrates our values

A strong positive value base may result in you talking to
the woman or offering her support. A strong negative value base may result in you applying blame to her. A neutral value base may result in you just walking by All of these demonstrate that you have a value based reaction. This highlights that values form your every response to a situation, and do not always imply a negative connotation.

What does this mean for our professional work?

Social care professionals are required to make or contribute to the making of decisions that effect service users. Such decisions are usually very important to the service user, sometimes they can change the course of a service users life. They may be based on a sound assessment and comply with the GSCCs CoP but the subjective element that includes personal values not only remains present but often influences the outcome.

A value position that social are professions have bee accused of often adopting is Paternalism, which originates from the Latin pater, and means to act like a father, or to treat another person like a child. There is an implied intention to act for the good of another person but often without that person's consent, or limited agreement in a manner that parents might do for their children.

Paternalists advance people's interests (such as life, health, or safety) at the expense of their own self determination Paternalists suppose that they can make wiser decisions than the people for whom they act.

Professional Values

What is our professional value base? How have these been formed? What is the role of professional social work values.

The application of professional values

Social workers must be able to justify their actions Social workers who can argue effectively from a sound principled positionwill be able to advocate for service users much more effectively than those who second guess what might be in the interests of the majority Parrott,L.(2004:54)

Professional Values and Practice

An analysis of the application of professional values to practice provides a means to examine the many roles social workers play and the various approaches to practice that may be taken. This will represent a diverse range of service users. It will involve reflecting on knowledge, professionalism and accountability.

The Role of professional Values

No one value base is shared by all the professionals. Value base of ALL professions have their own set of informal rules and meanings, deriving from the subcultures within the organisation. The professionals self-image reflects the value base if the organisation in which they work. The professional value base of the organisation gives that organisation its professional identity.

A Case Study
Maisie is a 62 year old white woman who has been married to Albert, a 68 year old white male for 44 years. Albert was diagnosed as suffering with Alzheimers disease when he was 65 and the illness has made significant progress. He shows some cognition in long term memory but has limited short-term memory and on occasion fails to recognise her as his wife. Maisie is slight in build and is finding the physical care of Albert increasingly demanding now she is increasingly having to undertake the personal care of Albert. She is unsure as to whether or not his occasional angry outbursts are the result of his frustration or whether they are the result of a far less rational process, but her safety cannot be guaranteed at such times. Maisie want to continue to care for her husband and feels guilty about having to ask for help. Albert wants to stay at home and have his care undertaken by his wife. Peter, the son lives away and wants his father to go into residential care. Paula, the daughter wants to help support her mum to care for her dad but suffers from depression, The GP thinks respite care is appropriate. You are the Social Worker, Following your assessment of need you want to recommend the level of home care is increased. However you know the adult care budget is stretched and your manager is restricting additional services for existing service users.


Its not just about your personal and professional values

The State The Agency Associated agencies The Social Worker/ Social care worker The Service User The service users parents, carers and families

The Roles
Advocacy Community Development Traditional casework Allocator/Controller of services Statutory intervention Care Manager/broker

Some models of practice

Social care/sw as object Radical vocation Social change Profession al

adapted from Banks 2006 p137

Bureaucratjob Consumer Service provision Allocate resources Statutory private sector


Client Skilled helper Awareness Personal raising devPEGS Private/ high autonomy

Org setting Independe nt /Vol

Professional values should be..

Central to practice. They are what we believe in and place value on. Help us decide on a particular course of action. Need to be actively implemented within our practice. The adopting of, commitment to and acting upon appropriate values is central to good practice.

Why do we need codes of practice?

To Protect and give recognition to:

Service users

Those who may be involved in our service evaluation research activities

The profession

Foundation of professional values

Biestek (1961) principles; Recognition of a unique qualities. Recognises the need for service users to freely express their true feelings. Sensitivity to feelings, and understanding of their meaning. Acceptance of the service user for who they are. Not to assign guilt/innocence or degrees of service users responsibility for issues. Freedom of choice in making decisions. Confidentiality

Butrym (1976) describes three principles for social work.
Respect for Individuals, due to their inherent worth and independent of their actual achievements or behaviour. Belief in the social nature of man as a unique creature depending on other men for fulfilment of his uniqueness.

Belief in human capacity for change, growth and betterment.

Timms (1983) identifies five typical inclusions in a social work values list; Respect the client. Accept him for himself. Not to condemn him. Uphold his right to self determination. Respect his confidence

BASWs 5 basic Values of Social work


Human dignity and worth Social justice Service to humanity Integrity Competence

How would your professional values help you here?

Professional values
The social work profession embraces and strives to promote a strong values system. The values we advocate don't always make us popular.

GSCC Code of Practice

As a social care worker, you must protect the rights and promote the interests of service users and carers. This includes: 1.1 1.2 Treating each person as an individual; Respecting and, where appropriate, promoting the individual views and wishes of both service users and carers; Supporting service users rights to control their lives and make informed choices about the services they receive; Respecting and maintaining the dignity and privacy of service users; Promoting equal opportunities for service users and carers; Respecting diversity and different cultures and values.

1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6

Conflicts between personal and professional values

These will occur but the worker should try to reach an accommodation where possible. Significant failure to do so could result in the worker having a sense of cognitive dissonance, a sense of incongruity or lack of fit between thoughts and actions the worker is required to carry out.

Professional Misconduct
Professional misconduct is defined by BASW as being anything that is;

Harmful to service users or members of the public. Prejudicial to the development or standing of social work practice. Contrary to the code of ethics.

As Varidaki-Levine (2004:2) highlights:
A brief reference to Social Work Philosophy and Values reveals that the tremendous scope of the above issues should be constantly studied, explored and researched. The Social Work Code of Ethics may provide a meaningful and acceptable base for professional accountability but the discussion on moral issues is an on-going process. This notion leads to the next issue, that although Social Work is considered an Applied Discipline, the application of its knowledge is not a simple or a mechanistic process.

Each of us has a set of personal values.
As each individual is unique, so is their value base they hold. There is no set prescription/format for a personal value base. Values can be challenged, defended or changed Just because you do not have a strong reaction to an issue does not mean you do not have a value base. You are in the process of developing and hopefully adopting a professional value base There may be conflict between personal and professional values. Where possible any conflict should be reduced to a minimum

Reference List

Banks, S. (2006) Ethics, Accountability and the Social Professions. London: Palgrave. Biestek, F. (1961) The Casework Relationship Butrym, Z. (1976) The Nature of Social Work. Macmillan Education: London. GSCC (2005). General Social Care Council Codes of Practice [online] UK. Available from Kohlberg, L. (1976). Moral stages and moralization: the cognitive developmental approach. In T. Lickona (ed.), Moral development and behaviour: theory, research and social issues. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, pp. 3153. (1984). Essays on moral development, vol. II. The psychology of moral development: the nature and validity of moral stages. San Francisco: Harper and Row. Parrott. L (2006)Values and Ethics in Social Work Practice. Exeter: Learning Matters Timms, N. (1983) Social work values: an enquiry Varidaki-Levine, L. (2004) The impact of social work philosophy and values in praxis and in the learning process of the practitioners. ESRA