Ethics in Social Work Webinar Series: Part 1 – What are ethics and why do values matter?



good afternoon my name is Fred Phelps and I'm the executive director of the Canadian Association of Social Workers I have the honor today of welcome you to the first of three webinars on ethics that is a collaboration between the Manitoba College of Social Workers and the Canadian Association social workers in celebration of National Social Work month for today's roadmap for ethical responses webinar we have over 500 social workers from across Canada connecting in and we are tremendously fortunate to have Vicki Virg she is the Regional Director of social work for the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and a very active member with the Manitoba college of social workers presenting to us and for us today in terms of process for this webinar the first half of the webinar approximately 30 minutes will be a presentation by Vicki followed by a half-hour question Alan or period that I will moderate during the presentation you are welcome to type in and send in your questions I'll keep track of them and I'll begin to ask them and moderate those questions after her half hour presentation now without further wait again it is my distinct pleasure and to thank her but my distinct pleasure also is to welcome Vicki verge to present Road Mac for ethic ethic responses Vicki take it away good afternoon everybody Thank You Fred for those introductions I just want to thank everybody for joining us today and I also want to take a moment to acknowledge Professor Alex watsky and the wrh a epics manager Richard Lavoie they helped me create a previous workshop that I've kind of used to set up our module today so ethics let's think about that for a moment what I know we can't really talk but if you're in front of me what I'd be saying is what comes to mind when you think about ethics oftentimes what I hear people say is things like standards how to act what is the right thing to do how we live our lives our duty one definition that I like to use is that ethics are the moral principles that govern a or groups behavior oftentimes things like synonyms like moral code morality values rights and wrongs principles ideals standards or standards of behavior dictates of conscience are some of the words that come to mind sometimes people tell me that it affects is about what's doing right but it's not always about the right thing we know as social workers we should not have intimate relationships with our clients for example but it happens in Newfoundland a social worker was found guilty of engaging in a personal relationship with a client the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of social worker said in their decision dated December 5th 2016 that the social was also found guilty of disclosing confidential information and he failed to complete and document client assessments so why didn't this social worker do the right thing as social workers we have a responsibility to consider choices and options in an ethical way an ethical way means a systematic reflection on all aspects of a situation and that can help frame our practice and help us determine choices but unfortunately it's not going to give us a yes-or-no answer and it won't tell us what to do so now values I hope some of you were able to take a moment and take a look at the prevail use pre reading the values activity that I suggested people do if you did do that what you are asked to do was to rate your values on a scale and to limit those values to no more than four generally when I have people do that values activity they struggle it's not an easy thing to do the purpose of the exercise was really to get you thinking about what's important to you and to challenge you to prioritize those values there's really no right or wrong values but the way I rated my values will naturally different from the way others because my values are a significant part of my identity values represent what is important to us and who we expect ourselves to be people often judge themselves and others based on values values have been established through a lifetime of experiences and they come to us in a variety of ways our values play into our ethics our values tell us whether something is an ethical issue they help us make decisions every single day and they do it uncouth at unconsciously that means we make decisions without even realizing or being aware of it so values are the regard that we have for something something that we uphold we think that it's important or worthy something that is useful and they guide our actions without us even knowing it so because they guide our actions without even us knowing it it behooves us to be self-aware and to take time to self reflect as we know there are wide differences in values so when we work with our clients whose values do we follow what process are you taking as a social worker to ensure you understand and appreciate your clients values as a social worker it's our responsibility to understand our own values but also to seek out an understanding of our clients values and to understand how the dominant societal values are impacting our work oftentimes we expect others to behave and make choices from the same values as ours and this Varian lines the problem so ethics and values our values influence our ethics as I was just saying what we believe governs our behavior what we believe governs our choices the where did values come from they come from our families our experiences they come from society I have an English background and the English firmly believe that no one is above the law how do you think that might play out in my work with clients who do break the law multiculturalism and gender equality are two Canadian values but I quite wonder do all Canadians uphold these values and if we do do we uphold them in the same way what about history what arts history taught us to value – not to value and how has this impacted our ethical behavior in time and over time if you review the Truth and Reconciliation report it states that over a century for over a century the central goals of Canada's Aboriginal policy were to eliminate Aboriginal governments ignore Aboriginal rights terminate treaties and through a process of assimilation caused Aboriginal peoples to cease to exist as its distinct legal social cultural religious and racial entity in Canada the establishment and operation of residential schools were a central element of this policy which can be deaths best described as cultural genocide and as dealing with Aboriginal people Canadian people chose to do all of those things do we still uphold these values and if not why not the right thing we don't always agree with others but in our hearts many of us can say with certainty that there are things we would always or never do many of us look back at the actions and decisions of our ancestors and are horrified that they chose measures to eliminate Aboriginal people as distinct people and to assimilate them into Canadian mainstream against their will sometimes is easy to know what to do and some would say hindsight's 20/20 there are certain things that we intuitively know are right or our to intuitively know that are wrong we are comfortable saying for example most of us would say killing is wrong or killing is bad but helping people is right helping people is good these are some things that are pretty black and white to us so usually the right solution though is somewhere in the middle somewhere in that gray space if you look at the slide in front of you that space is a bit of uncertainty most of the time it's hard to know what to do most situations are nearly never clearly at the black end or the white end of anything and most everything falls into that gray area so even think about murder I Ridge a'no Lee said that killing is wrong most of us would say that as a Canadian as a social worker I don't believe in murder as a society we don't even hold the death penalty but are there exceptions killing someone's as a means of stopping them is allowed under our laws but only in circumstances in which it is apparent to you at the time of the incident and to the judge upon hearing the facts that you had done something or you would do something to protect yourself so suddenly that black and white is not so clear anymore how you decide to act and how far to the right or how far to the left or how comfortable you are in the gray is often linked to your personal values stereotypes I really think it's important to just reflect for a moment on stereotypes in what role they play if you look at this illustration it says if a person has seen an orange basketball before they have already placed the object into a basketball category consisting of certain characteristics it bounces has a certain texture and groove is spherical and is orange if he or she then encountered a yellow basketball that person might be able to still associate it with the category of basketballs based on its texture and shape so am I to assume that all balls that bounce have certain characteristics like size texture groove and shape or basketballs regardless of color as definition of a stereotype is stated to be a widely held or conventional image that is fixed in an over in simplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing but is the yellow basketball still a basketball how do we know the yellow basketball isn't supposed to be used in a different way or for rent game none of the NVA uses orange basketballs but did you know the Women's National Basketball Association's official basketball is made of two interlocking microfiber panels giving it an alternating orange and white color however the ABA is use of distinctive red and white blue ball uses a distinctive red and light blue ball much like the NBA the standardized appearance of balls helps build brand identity so where do our stereotypes come from how and why do people form stereotypes the common-sense that answer to this question is captured in social learning theory simply we put we learn stereotypes from our parents our first and most influential teachers our significant others like our peers and the media another example for how we form stereotypes comes from research about cognitive psychology on the categorization period of process people like to want to need to categorize the world both the social and physical world into neat little groups we categorize for a couple of reasons first of all is cognitively efficient once you categorize something you no longer need to consider information about each individual member or thing you can apply all the group information to all of its members it saves processing time secondly it satisfies satisfies the need to understand and predict the world you no longer need to wonder what each individual is like or what he or she is likely to do all of this is contained in that stereotype and lastly it's a way to feel better about yourself we think our groups are often better than other groups so society is filled with biases which influence our judgments so we need to have social records make sure that we take state steps cues me to make sure that those things do not influence our Social Work practice so ethical theories there are many ethical theories out there that exists and that can help inform our judgments about right and wrong and influence how we make decisions things like consequentialism you to layer it Arianism no signs of that right deontology I'm going to quickly focus on Beauchamp and child res principles of bioethics they discuss four commonly accepted principles that outlines role specific duties that govern ethical relationships between health care providers and patients but I think that they're really applicable to Social Work practice ethical choice is both big and small confronted daily especially as we try to provide care for persons with diverse values living in a pluralistic and multicultural society in the face of such diversity where can we find moral action guides when there is a confusion or conflict about what ought to be done such guidelines would need to be broadly acceptable among religious non-religious and for persons across many different cultures due to the many variables that exist in this context of clinical cases the principles are not considered absolutes but serve as action guides so the first one beneficence the method since is considered an action that is done for the benefit of others the nificent actions can be taken to help prevent or remove harms or to simply improve the situation of others social workers are expected to work towards improving or removing factors that harm our clients Ephesus often distinguish between obligatory and ideal beneficence ideal beneficence comprises extreme acts of generosity or attempt to benefit others on all possible occasions ideal beneficence is often unrealistic in practice but the onus remains on the social worker to work towards what is best for the clients they serve it is expected however that social workers are to keep the well-being of their clients in the forefront of any decision that will need to be made either on behalf of the client or with them hence those workers have to weigh in balance possible benefits against possible risks of any actions non-maleficence nominal assistant means to do no harm so pretty much the opposite or similar to beneficence we have to refrain from providing ineffective treatments or acting with malice towards clients this speaks both to engaging in interventions that are known to be effective for example evidence-based practice and it also addresses the need for performing within one's own scope of training and one's own competence level the pertinent ethical issue is whether the benefits outweigh the burdens one of the most common ethical dilemmas arising in the balancing of beneficence and non boluses ins this balance is the one between the benefits and risks of treatment by providing for example informed consent social records give clients the information necessary to understand the scope and nature of the potential risks and benefits in order to make a decision ultimately at the client it is the client who assigns weight to the risks and benefits in effect this gets at the idea that clients and as much as they have capacity are to be agents of their own destiny or autonomy the third um is justice and justin is off scuse me not Justin justice is often referred to as fairness in health care ethics this can be subdivided into three categories fair distribution of scarce resources which I'm pretty sure all of us struggle with kind of the distributive justice respect for people's rights rice brightness based justice and respect for morally acceptable laws legal justice social justice is the view that everyone deserves equal economic political and social rights and opportunities social workers aim to open the doors of access and opportunity for everyone particularly those in greatest need let's look at this slide the first image shows that everyone is receiving the same support we're all getting a little box in order to watch the baseball game this is equality in action there is an assumption that everyone will benefit from the same supports the second image people are given different supports according to their needs to make it possible for them to have equal access to the game so the gentleman that's tall doesn't need a box because you can see over the fence the metal person does need a box but the little guy needs two boxes would you agree that these three individuals are being treated fairly and equitably not everyone would agree somewhat agree it's not fair that the tall man who pays the same taxes let's see doesn't get any support from the box the final image is about all people being able to see the game without any supports or accommodation because the cause of the inequity was addressed the systematic barrier had been removed when I first saw this image I thought the middle one was a great outcome until I saw the third image and realized oh you can actually just change the whole fence and that would open up different options improve customer service the final is autonomy and I think as social workers we all appreciate autonomy autonomous individuals can act intentionally with understanding without controlling influences the respect for autonomy is one of the fundamental guidelines of clinical ethics and social work practice but autonomy is not simply allowing clients to make their own decisions those workers have an obligation to create the conditions necessary for autonomous choice in others for a social worker respect for autonomy includes respecting an individual's right to self-determination as well as creating the conditions necessary for autonomous choice excuse me in other words you have to be prepared for when clients do not take your advice and have the freedom to disagree social workers are frequently information brokers being aware of programs resources etc individuals come to us for guidance in making choices because they do not have the necessary background or information for making the informed choices social workers in our role as educators inform clients so that they can understand the situation adequately as social workers we are obligated to ensure that informed consent is provided the does not mean providing every possible choice and option or outcome as this can simply overwhelm and incapacitate at the client it does mean working with the client so they can appreciate the consequences or choices and make it a reasoned decision at times this includes advocating for client autonomy when this is being prevented or reduced some of the most common and difficult ethical issues to navigate arise when the client's autonomous decision conflicts with a social recruitment nificent duty to look out for the clients best interest for example a client who is at risk of eviction for using street drugs in a home in these situations the autonomous choice of the client conflicts with the social workers duty of benefits and following each ethical principle would lead to different actions so what does this all have to do with social work practice of what does this have to do with you as a social worker your tool your values are a significant part of your identity they represent what is important to us and who we expect ourselves to be our values impact whether we see an issue is having ethical consequences or not and they help us make decisions as we said every day unconsciously ethics are principles that govern our behavior the problem is we often expect others to have the same values and we don't understand how when those values come into conflict how that derails our social relationships assessments and interventions there is no automatic adherence to rules and regulations but ethical behavior will involve the exploration of your personal value based in motivations ethical behavior is at the core of every profession the Canadian Association of Social Workers code of ethics sets forth values and principles to guide social workers professional conduct a code of ethics cannot guarantee ethical behavior as it does not prescribe a set of rules for behavior ethical behavior comes from a social workers individual commitment to engage in ethical practice so as social workers we need to look at both the spirit and the letter of the code of ethics and let it guide us as we act in good faith and with a genuine desire to make sound profound judgments it's not always fair or equal when applying ethics we often look for an ideal standard or model based our approach on what is considered to be the normal or correct way of doing something as we said as I said earlier ethical deliberation is a systematic reflection on all aspects of a situation and this can help frame your practice and help you determine choices but it won't give you a yes or no answer in module three I'm going to share an example of an ethical decision-making framework that can be used in different practice frameworks perfect thank you very much Vicki and is a great presentation and I think from CHWs perspective and from the amount of people that are on the line at understanding ethics and this kind of current political climate is something that I think is very much top of mind for everyone as we know politically the concept of what it is to be a Canadian with the values is ours and the ethics of being Canadian are in our news appears daily from the beginning and so right now for the audience this is a question-and-answer time period you're welcome to type in your questions at any point I've got a few here and I'll wait for a few more to come in but first just to answer a few questions that just a technical one for maybe people that tapped in a little bit later the slides and this presentation we'll both be made available on the CSW website we have a continuing education page on our website and both this and this PowerPoint will be accessible there so for all those looking for that a copy of it it will be there as soon as we as soon as we get to recording we will put both the recording and the PowerPoint up on our website so to get back to the presentation something at the very beginning struck mean and I won't rot world a note and I wanted to kind of worry you on this Vicki ISM what process do you recommend I or others use to better understand our clients values and I guess at the same time how do we understand our own I have my own idea in this but I'd like to hear hear from you well I think there's a couple of things that we can take into consideration if we look at our code of ethics and guides for practice one of the things that it often suggests our standards of practice from Manitoba suggests that we should be seeking out supervision and consultation in our practice as social workers so that's one thing that I often encourage people to consider in healthcare it may be a little bit difficult for some of our social workers who are working independently in sites but they can create peer groups you know have journal groups there certainly is the journal that's available that you can get articles sent to you just so that you're thinking about kind of what ethics are you're talking about it but you know the example that I gave earlier about the activity that I posted for people to kind of take a look at their values I think it's important that we reflect on those regularly whatever that might mean it does change over time what I value today in with my experience and exposures would be very different than when I was a bright and young enthusiastic new social worker at the age of whatever it was 20 punished so it's important that we reflect on those regularly and as far as clients go I mean I think we're all very good at kind of asking open-ended questions and getting to know our clients when we're developing our relationships but we do need to make sure that we're not making any assumptions and that's the time when we're getting to know our clients and doing our psychosocial assessments that we ask some open-ended questions and ask them things like what do you value the same way that we might have asked ourselves when we did them self reflection and activity pre-reading do you think it's actually another question here you spoke earlier about different health professions and wondering how social work ethics differ from other health professionals that question coming from Sally in Saskatchewan mmm-hmm well I don't know all of the Health Professions but I think that that's important to also when you're working in a health care facility or working with health you're often working as an introduced military team and so as a social worker much like you would ask your clients kind of what their value basis as you're developing your relationships with your team members it's important to understand where they're coming from most of us would have you know things like the duty to care beneficence trying to do the right thing not doing the wrong thing causing no harm so I think if you look at those big bucket values and principles we all probably fall into them but again each individual would come with their own values and own experiences so as you're developing those into professional relationships you really need to ask your colleagues some of those questions especially when it comes to making recommendations or suggestions for clients okay excellent I hope I'm asking this question correctly do you think cultural relativism is a useful consult concept for Social Work practice hmm I would have to probably reflect on that a little bit more I don't know if I can think of that right off the top of my head sounds very familiar from some of the work that I would have done in my my own education but unfortunately can't respond to that right at this moment so no worries here is another one what do you do if I'm sorry what do you do what do you do if you think the right thing according to the code of ethics is against the law well that would be interesting and they're interesting stories tonight I almost want to know what that is I don't think God there is no other response other than the questions good so if you look at something like the International Federation of social workers guide to practice which is okay um one of the things that I looked at to kind of get prepared for it does talk a lot about the social workers responsibility for making sure that they bring up to politicians their employers to the public at large any concerns that they might have about policies or procedures that would be harming discriminating against clients we do have a bit of a responsibility to do that okay a follow-up to that is a room for extra legal so I'm assuming outsides of law Social Work practice could you say that again friend is there room for extra legal so I'm assuming outside the law Social Work practice I'm assuming the individual is looking for often there are differing laws that we may seem as as unethical as a practice as unethical but it is law so is there room for that within the code of ethics to work within your practice outside the law I think don't any of yeah I think any of our code of ethics always refer to the fact that we are obligated to work within our laws now back to what I did originally said if we're feeling like the law is somehow causing harm or hurting our clients or discriminating against them in a certain way then we have an obligation to you know use our social justice and bring about some good ethical debate around the issue and raise that either with our colleagues or employers or politicians or communities so that people understand how it's impacting thank you very much I have another great question here how do you maintain your ethical standards in an adversarial relationship such as what happens in a Child and Family Services environment between client and social worker geometry pietà no I understand yeah those are really a difficult and challenging situations I worked in child welfare for many years and again I think that part of that getting to know your client and talking to your client a little bit about what your role is and what you're there for so if you think about some of our ethics around confidentiality certainly your clients need to understand that in your role as a child welfare worker there are some information that you would not be able to keep confidential there's some information that would be part of your assessment that you'd need to take into consideration that may or may not cause their children to come into care so it is all about being upfront and trying to help your clients appreciate that although you're a social worker you also have an obligation in the work that you're doing to do certain things so helping them understand how that might play out and then as for yourself I mean it can be very challenging to be a social worker in child welfare and understand some of the ethics and principles that you're supposed to uphold and sometimes not being able to do that so again seeking out opportunities to kind of do some self-care do some good supervision reflect on who you are and how you can kind of find a balance between the work that you're doing as a social worker in child welfare because it can be done and people do it very well now the questions are coming in more and more now so I'm going to try to lump them together but first this one from Dawn thank you Deepu for the house of study thought an examination have gone into your presentation you stated the importance of self-awareness and yet we are so blind to our unconscious biases how can we attend to this paradox beautiful question yes very well said that Varian lines at dilemma because sometimes we are so unconscious we are aiming there so unconscious is very difficult to know exactly what is influencing us but I can give an example of something I because I worked in child welfare for so long I do have a very comfortable appreciation of what Child and Family Services does and what their role is in society so working in health care I'm very comfortable with making a referral to Child and Family Services whereas I do see many of my colleagues nurses physicians who are much more cautious and much more careful because they worry about the consequences you know the stigmatism around kind of calling Child and Family Services and so although that maybe causes conflict between me my colleagues them and myself it also allows us to have some good ethical debate about what we could and should do in situations because I can be honest and genuine and upfront about where I'm coming from and hopefully by doing that reflecting on my own ethics my own values about child protection that that can open up the conversation with perhaps somebody else who's maybe having a different reaction is maybe more over in the block area where I'm more comfortable in that gray area so there's no easy answer to that so I guess really what I'm saying long and short is that we need to be comfortable about talking about our values in our ethics being aware that we often react quite unconsciously so taking a moment to think about things slowing down and you know wondering why am i why am I making this recommendation to a client where am i coming from and just trying to be conscious of the things that we do regularly and again no seeking out supervision consultation having peer discussions being part of ethical committees whenever you sit back and think about ethics and maybe then participate in ethical discussions that gets you reflecting and thinking about your own choices in your own practice thank you very much I think we might might have answered this earlier but I'm going to combine two years what if you think the right thing according to the code of ethics is against the law and then another question of not true what against the law means so can you give me an example so you may have covered this earlier but just giving you one more kick again yeah well I think that with all we're responsible as you know Canadians to follow our laws in our legislation so if we have concerns about the ethics of our practice and that bumping up against the law then we really need to be prepared to state those reasons for our concerns and bring them forward to our employers our professional associations politicians our communities to make sure that people understand what that gray area might be and what might be impacting our clients and try to use the word fight for change or promote change or promote the empowerment of the individuals that might be impacted by whatever ethics and law are kind of bumping up against each other okay this one's a little a little different so I'm going to make you switch gears Giselle asks asks how would you approach a client who is considering euthanasia well I think that's a very interesting issue this day and age and so one of the things that I would ask people to consider is the Canadian Association of Social Workers I kind of put out I don't know if you call it a statement or a guiding statement but I think that those situations are going to happen more as we move through our society so medical assistance and dying physician assisted death part of our responsibility is to make sure that people have access to resources and information so that they can make an informed decision it doesn't necessarily mean that we have to be the ones to do that but we can at least and show them who they can go to so that they can hear that information they can take that into consideration and be able to make the choice that's right for themselves well what I can say is I am very thankful if you're the one answering these questions and not me so the next question is can you talk about how to manage the conflict that might arise when some disciplines before prefer clear-cut efficient decision-making tools and are not comfortable with the gray areas they require more complex look an evaluation of a situation very good question yeah it is a very good question and those I mean much like anything that where ethics or principles or values come up these are really hard to navigate so I don't want my answers to sound like they're Pat kind of answers but you know just kind of thinking off the top of my head here those are really the times where you're going to have to pull your teams together your colleagues together you're going to need to sit down and talk them through so I can think of many times in a healthcare facility people may be more risk adverse to older adult let's say being discharged from the hospital and being able to live independently in the community with perhaps just home care or some supports kind of coming in whereas other people feel much more strongly let's say that the person should be placed or move into a personal care home and really as a social worker our job is to find out what the clients want what they what their wishes are find out what family may want listen to our colleagues and hear what their concerns might be and try to mitigate kind of all of that and facilitate a good discussion that might be able to balance some of those risks that your colleagues are raising with the economy of what your client wishes not easy to now right how might one navigate supervision consultation when the supervisor is unwilling to reflect on their own values ethics conflicts and/or work collaborative collaboratively in a supportive way to resolve I think more the crutch of it is a navigating supervision cost consultation when the individual isn't reflecting their own values ethics and conflicts well conflict is always difficult at anytime right so you have to pull out your conflict 101 resolution skills and some of it sometimes what it means is finding some courage to be able to raise that with your supervisor if there's safety and not if there's some trust and being able to do that I recognize that there are times when it's not possible to be as genuine or bring that up with the supervisor and and challenge them and I don't mean challenging it in a bad way but challenge them about that so if there isn't the ability to do that then I would wonder if there's a way to maybe seek some supervision or consultation from other team members or other social workers or from the college when run required and using the supervision with the supervisor who maybe is not willing or able to reflect on her values and ethics using that consultation supervision for specific activities or specific issues and using other members of your team other members of your practice for different ways okay I'm going to I pulled up our Social Work value csw values because the question here is would you agree that every interaction with a client runs through the entire six values listed in the CSW code of ethics so get exceed lines and therefore should value number six which is competence in professional practice actually number value number four which is integrity of professional practice in order of listing importance to the guideline and professional practice so basically I think saying do we run every client interaction through the six code of ethics and should number six code of ethics actually be of higher value than what is currently the number four well I think if we put five hundred social workers in a room we would all probably come up with answer to that and that goes back to you know some of the things that we individually value or and would see as being important in our interactions with clients so I don't think there's any easy answer I don't think the way that's the cfw code of ethics or ethical guide for practice was written in a way that one is higher than another there's no hierarchy to them all but more of these are the things that you need to consider and take into your practice these are the values and principles that should guide your practice things that you should be thinking about and reflecting on but one wouldn't necessarily be more important than the other so I'm not sure if that answers or if you have a thought about that Fred no I think that was a good way to answer it's hard to the values are listed and I don't think it's in order of importance I think they're just numbered in the sense of the number of values so I think I would compare with your answer now this one I was I've been holding off on this one because I think I'm looking forward to your answer in your experience what is one of the toughest ethical dilemmas or situations that you have faced personally mm there's been a few I probably um just off the top of my head thinking here I was in child welfare and I one of my sorry there was a young baby that had been apprehended and brought into care and the baby wound up in the hospital due to shaken baby syndrome and so the social worker and I needed to meet with the mother to tell her what had happened and that her child you know had been harmed quite fairly well in care so there was a lot of emotions and challenges going on for all of us there but I think the hardest thing for me was when the social story when the client herself said to me that you know you took the child away from me because you thought I wasn't a good mom and now you've given my child to somebody else who's now damaged my child and you know caused brain damage and so just back to that original there was a question earlier about you know your Social Work values and ethics and how they kind of play out in your roles in your employ in your employment that was just a really hard thing for me to manage as both a person as a social worker and then also as a supervisor because I had to help my social worker work through her own feelings and experiences with that situation and so you know you think going into the work that I was doing at the time that I was doing the right thing and in the end if this child became very severely harmed while in our care so it was something that was very difficult not only in the moment dealing with the client but also just as a supervisor and as a social worker I really needed to do some work with myself and with my team around that situation not an easy one thank you very much for sharing your experience I have two questions that are I think fairly similar so I'm going to try to work them together which comes first other than guards and Kevin both kind of asked that the same which comes first in any ethical dilemma the agency's values I work for or the Social Work code of ethics and a flipside kind of the same question should workplace or organization policy outweigh one's ethical standards so I think kind of a fairly similar way of asking the same question well again I don't think that's why ethics and values and morals are so difficult because there is no easy answer there is no yes or no it's not that one is above the other but I think it behooves us to be aware of where some of our ethical choices ethical principles and values as a social worker might impact or come into conflict with our work and so we have to work through those each and every time so that either a they don't impact our client or the work that we're doing with our client but we just need to talk about them so I can give an example there are some hospitals here in Winnipeg who have declared due to religious reasons that they will not support medical assistants and dying so for the social workers that are in those hospitals who may be approached by a client who wishes to proceed with medical assistance and dying or be aware of that is quite a challenge so one of the ways that we've worked around that is to say that the social workers can provide the information to the client the client could then would have to receive those services outside of that Hospital so that was brought up as being an issue and so we have to make sure that the clients have access to the information and they have a right to that information they have a right to being able to be aware of it but the people nurses doctors social workers OTS whoever it might be in that hospital will not be the ones that provide the service I don't know if that kind of gets at it but as those issues come up you need to figure out ways to balance both legislation the employers you know choices rights expectations are values they all need to be considered like so well I'm really thankful that you have committed to this being a three-part series because I know in the next two parts you'll introduce some tools and probably and we're going to work through some an ethical dilemma and I think from our perspective here on the national levels not being a regulatory body but the National Association voice we often will get questions from social workers on ethics and and just how to move people through the ethical decision making is always something that it is very difficult when when we're not a regulatory body but we are the holder of the National code of ethics and so I am thankful thankful for this because it is often difficult to answer the questions and I find and maybe I will ask you this question from my own I find often when I'm having a conversation with somebody about ethics they are already know the answer to their questions but they are seeking an outside opinion to affirm that and so in your experience in real lunar earliertoo chains or working in teams or to discuss ethics but in these situations where people are trying to work through what's your recommendations to them on how how how they can work through it or if there are resources that there might be out there to help them work through it so that's a great one I often find when a social worker comes in to see me for supervision that's usually in and of itself some kind of there's something that's bring them right something that's bothering them something that doesn't feel right and so I give them credit for you know being willing to come forward and say this doesn't feel good I don't know what to do it what's my next steps and so then one of the things that we will talk about in module three is an actual framework to kind of work through some of those challenges so as a supervisor what I try to do now is incorporate some of those questions into my practice so that there is that safety that comfort for the social worker to have a chance to kind of reflect on what it is that's worrying them or bothering them what are they struggling with what do they think is the right thing to do and just kind of work through some of those things together and usually in the end you know they come up with an outcome that feels comfortable for them and that you know honors their clients wishes and practices so we will talk about that a little bit more I've recently just because they've been reflecting so much on ethics and standards of practice have actually kind of pulled out the standards of practice a couple of times while we've been debating an issue and say it and say to myself so let's let's look and see what is the Manitoba College of social workers standards of practice say about this issue is there anything in there was that provide us with any kind of guidance or suggestion about what we could or should do so that's what another tool that I would encourage people to take a look at and to have handy and then there's you know different websites out there and I mean that's one of the ones that we'll introduce to you in module 3 but the Manitoba send network has lots of ethical frameworks they also have lots of ethical scenarios that are presented kind of in a bit of a story format and then people can kind of see what others have done in those situations and I can't remember the name of it but there's also a journal I'm just looking through my notes here a journal for social workers that has different ethical articles that comes out on a monthly basis where you can get kind of the table of contents and that often is you know there are evidence-based practice material that can help us work through some of our dilemmas perfect oh I can commit to people on the call I mean on the presentation and other Zavala we'll look based on your recommendations and working back and forth is you on the next two webinars we'll post some of these resources up on that csw website now the next question might be a little bit difficult to ask and put you in a little bit of a spot but this is what ethics are all about so if if ethics embody right wrong and it depends the gray area then how can social workers fundamentally be reprimanded I'm assuming that is that reference to regulation mmm-hmm I don't I mean I think I think what we need to do is we need to take a look at our code of ethics our standards our practice and we need to reflect on our choices that we've made and I mean I would hope as a supervisor I would approach my social worker and ask them an open-ended question what happened in this situation what were your choices why did you make those choices and if there is in a difference in opinion I think I would try and have that conversation and let the person know what I'm concerned about and we would have to have that ethical debate but there are also you know certain expectations when it comes to me as an employer and expectations that I would have for my staff as an employer so I have to take all of those things into consideration that makes sense yeah very much so very much so just for people just a heads up we are going probably in the next few minutes going to end this webinar so if you have any last burning questions please put that put them in in the turn in terms of housekeeping for people because there's a few more questions on on now whether this presentation and others will be on our website all three of these presentations and webinars in which Vicky has very much as lentor time in which were hugely appreciative her lending her expertise and her time to us both in developing the presentations for us but also delivering them and so all three of the webinars there they're going to be put live but they'll also all be on to our website as well as the powerpoints after the events and there is one comment for you Vicky in the sense of looking ahead to the subsequent sessions and Fiona asking if we could look at the ethics of whistleblowing maybe possibly being discussed in in future webinars and that's that's a great point and I have one last question here unless something else comes in I've been saving me this one to the end and so what would you say there is would you say there is one Social Work value ethic that is the most important to practice well I could answer that for sure but then that would be coming from my value base right so so that I think that's what it's all about again I mean I've done this self reflection activity before and felt pretty confident about what my top four values are and why they are and then I've gone into a room of people who've done the same and I've listened to their arguments about why one particular value is more important than another and I think oh yeah that makes sense so I I don't feel comfortable answering that because yeah it would be coming from my own value base very good there is a couple questions a lot of people rather than questions are just so you know my my Q&A screen has exploded with very interesting and thank you very much excellent presentation thank you so there's a whole lot of thank yous for you Vikki and another person who's asking is there's be confirmation of attendance if you need confirmation you can e-mail c SW @ c SW – a CT SCA this we don't give certificates of a pre of attendance but if you need it I can send you an email saying that I can see who has attended and who hasn't if you want that for your records and so at this point I would like to again very much thank you Vicki as well as a mountable college of social workers who had partnered with us to put on this three-part very very much needed I think three part series on ethics and for those in the audience today the next webinar series in this series will be a March 9th at 1 p.m. Eastern Standard Time and again a recording of the PowerPoint and the video will be up on the website Vicki thank you very much I look very much forward to having the next two in this series and thank you again everybody thank you bye everyone

1 thought on “Ethics in Social Work Webinar Series: Part 1 – What are ethics and why do values matter?”

  1. Thanks for uploading this webinar.

    The Social Worker's action in any situation reflects their view of their role in that particular context. For example, one social worker sees their role as maintaining a high turnover of beds, and so acts to facilitate early patient discharge. While another social worker's actions at the same hospital seem to reflect a different understanding of their social work role. These differences in understanding partly reflect the individual social workers unique life experiences, values and beliefs. So it follows, by increasing your awareness of your values (shapped by the relationships and discourse your embedded in) you have greater mastery of your use of self to maximize the best interests of stake holders in your practice of social work.

    Increased awareness of our values and beliefs helps us ensure that we are doing 'with' people, rather than directing people and doing 'for' or 'to' them (I.,O''Connor, J.,Wilson, D,.Setterlund, p 59, 60., Social Work and Welfare Practice 2nd Ed, Longman Australia Pty Ltd, 1995)

    Wow, the role of ethical value-based decision making in social work is so profound. Thank-you Vicki.

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