Code of Ethics of National Association of Social Workers

Introduction

In this paper, I will present my ethical audit analysis, ethical risks involved and an effective action plan to deal with all related ethical dilemmas. I am an upcoming faculty member in the school of social work, Kuwait University. I intend to research in the future, but I have to teach first to get an opportunity to research other social work areas.

Ethical Audit

Service Delivery

My educational training and professional experience make me qualified to teach in a university. However, in the institution services provision is hindered by a lack of updated syllabuses in all classes. During last summer lectures, a sub-standard syllabus was provided to my clients. This made me feel that my professional ability to offer standard educational services to my clients had been limited. An ethical dilemma was created for both my client and me and thus hindered service delivery to my customers.

Boundary Issues

I managed to keep respectable boundaries with my clients by conducting myself professionally while delivering services. To achieve this, I made it clear to my clients that I would not accept personal messages and calls at night. I made sure that I offered all the required services within the official working time. This was critically important because I had experienced a boundary-related case with a female client. The client wanted a sexual relationship. My personal and professional ethics were against any sexual contact with a present and former client. In response, I acted calmly, explained to her my personal and professional ethics and the implications of such a relationship to both of us.

Documentation

I carefully documented all my service provision records and strived to make sure that I defined the purpose of service, goals, activities, progress, and evaluation. I accomplished this by providing outlines to my clients on the learning objectives, goals, actions, and evaluation rules to be applied. This helped me prepare my clients early in advance by making them aware of learning expectations and judgments. I also ensured that I correctly recorded all my clients’ marks and handed them to the relevant authorities.

Priorities

I had a challenge in balancing between my personal life and my service provision. Being a parent, student and a don created balances that hindered my service delivery. I was rarely available to my clients outside the classroom for consultations and supervision. Aside from my family, education was another major priority. I did not want to miss any class. As a lecturer, I encountered the challenge of lacking enough time to give out all continuous assessment tests. In my clients’ assessment reports, I got poor marks for being unavailable for clients’ consultations and supervision.

Academic Honesty

Cheating in any exams and assignments is unethical behavior in any learning institution. The institution has set out rules on dealing with cases of cheating and plagiarism. Unfortunately, I still came across cases of cheating in exams and plagiarism in research papers. One of the examples I came across is where I caught clients in the exam room, searching for exam answers on their phones. According to exams rules, phones are prohibited in an examination room. In adherence to the stated rules and regulations, I had to write a report to the management and disciplinary action taken on the respective clients. However, I did not report all cheating and plagiarism cases. For minor cases that did not completely flaw-stated rules, I offered advice and pardoned those involved.

Cultural and Social Diversity

I understood and appreciated the cultural competence and diversity of my clients. This made me aware during the presentation of my service. I opted to use positive and realistic examples in class especially in topics concerned with culture. This made me avoid a clash with my clients and make all cultures present to appreciate them. I treated all my clients fairly and equally

Academic Freedom

The classroom teaching experience at times creates an environment for debate and discussions on topics related to the class. Nevertheless, I found myself in situations that made me engage my clients in topics not related to the classroom. The language used in classroom discussions was also a challenge. Balancing the feelings of my clients was not easy as some felt hurt by the language used and examples used while presenting my services. I had a situation where I was unable to distinguish between academic freedom and professional censorship. I was teaching a topic about single parenthood. During class discussions, some female clients appeared disturbed and were not concentrating. Later on, one of the affected clients accused me of using choosing the topic purposely to hurt her feelings.

Ethical Risks

The audited areas presented the following ethical risks:

Service Delivery

NASW ethical standards on competence need social workers to “exercise careful judgment” and “take responsible steps” in ensuring that they are competent in protecting the interests of their clients (Code of Ethics of National Association of Social Workers, 2008, 1.1.04). In cases that there is no achievement of service delivery, clients may sue the social worker and institution for lack of delivery services.

Boundary Issues

According to Croxton, Jayaratne, and Mattison (1997), social workers are at a greater risk of having more than one relationship with their clients. Issues related to sexual misconduct between social workers and clients have serious ethical risks and implications. According to the NASW, social workers should not engage in any form of sexual activity with clients (Code of Ethics of National Association of Social Workers, 2008.). The standard further states that any sexual contact with clients, whether in the agreement or force would not be made. Workers face risks of losing their work and facing serious consequences for sexually related suits because of breaching their professional conduct.

Documentation

Madden (1998) explains the importance of documenting as being effective in the evaluation of workers’ services. Proper documentation is required that client’s information is well recorded and available upon request. Social workers have a responsibility to provide their customers access to important records about the services they seek (Code of Ethics of National Association of Social Workers, 2008). As a consequence, social workers face risks of losing their work due to their inability to perform their duties professionally.

Priorities

Principally, it is the responsibility of all social workers to promote the “well-being of clients” (Code of Ethics of National Association of Social Workers, 2008, 1.1.01). In cases where the clients’ interests are not taken primarily, social workers face ethical implications for gross misconduct and negligence of their duties. Consequently, they risk losing their job or facing courts of law for gross misconduct.

Academic Honesty

Social workers have a primary duty of promoting their clients’ interests. However, the loyalty to clients could be restricted by the legal obligations of workers’ to protect the community and the integrity of institutions. In cases where there is a failure in academic honesty, social workers face the risks of facing legal implications and losing their jobs.

Cultural and Social Diversity

Lack of social and cultural diversity may cause harm to the client’s feelings and attitudes. It is a need for social workers to see and recognize all cultures in the society and be sensitive to clients’ cultures when offering services (Code of Ethics of National Association of Social Workers, 2008, 1.1.05). Social workers face risks of defaming clients culturally or socially through publication or speech communication. In so doing, they cause injuries to their reputation in society, hence bringing disputes (Gifis 1991).

Academic Freedom

NASW’s ethical standards on social workers’ responsibilities to clients note that social workers should not use derogatory language either in written or verbal form to clients(Code of Ethics of National Association of Social Workers 2008). Therefore, social workers face ethical implications of defaming the characters of their clients causing harm.

Findings

The audit report yielded both positive and negative results. Audited areas were grouped into the following categories:

  1. No risk: This group represented areas whose practices met ethical standards and did not need to change. The areas included:
    1. Boundary issues
    2. Documentation
    3. Cultural competence
  2. Minimal risk: Academic honesty was grouped as minimal risk. Practices were adequate, but minor changes would be useful.
  3. Moderate risks: Service delivery was grouped as a moderate risk. In this area, the audit revealed there were problems in some practices, and the application of some changes would reduce the risk.
  4. High risks: Priorities were grouped as high risk. Practices regarding this area were seriously flawed, and consequences were felt. Consequently, significant modifications were necessary to reduce the risk.

Academic freedom was also grouped as a high-risk area that required some modifications to reduce the risks involved.

Positive results indicated that professional ethics were not flawed. On the other hand, negative results were signs that serious ethical standards were breached, and there was a need to lower risks involved. To achieve this objective, there is a need to provide for clients’ needs satisfactorily and development of an action plan. The plan includes planned actions on changes and steps to be used to lower risks.

Action Plan

The following plans of action will address challenges revealed by the audit.

Service Delivery

To reduce risks involved with service delivery, I would first consult with colleagues in the school of social work on the development of a new comprehensive syllabus. The development of a comprehensive syllabus would need the effort of different people. Together, we could file an urgent complaint explaining the problem with the management and work with management to develop the syllabus and enhance the quality of delivery.

Academic Freedoms

To reduce the risks involved with academic freedom, I will use strict class management techniques. Class management techniques would entail complete control of the classroom. This would involve abolishing and controlling discussions outside related topics. Lesson management techniques strive to ensure the achievement of lesson objectives without any destruction. Lesson achievement would employ the use of self-discipline and evaluation in ensuring the coverage of course content within the stipulated sessions and time frame. This will improve service delivery.

Priorities

Management of risk factors related to priorities involves the use of personal planning techniques. This would be achieved through the creation of a balance between my personal and professional life. Relevant authorities in the university can assist in dealing with the issue. I could approach those concerns with timetables and have my lessons scheduled when I am free in my education timetable.

Academic Honesty

Although this area presents minimal risks, its modification would lead to better outcomes. To achieve better results and safeguard the institution’s laws, I would make sure that I make early communications to clients on legalities connected with academic honesty. To do this I would provide clients with written documentation with all instructions together with course outlines at the beginning of the semester. In addition, there will be no pardoning of dishonesty cases. This will make ensure that all students adhere to the institutional rules and regulations on academic dishonesty. It will also work to sustain the well-being of the client.

Conclusion

Ethic audit assists in assessing ethical dilemmas related to social workers’ practice. Through the audit, social workers are able to know the risk factors and other ethical dilemmas found in their field and make necessarily ethical decisions. This paper has given an analysis of an ethics audit, ethical risks involved, and an effective action plan to deal with all related ethical dilemmas.

References

Code of Ethics of National Association of Social Workers. (2008). Web.

Croxton, T., Jayartne, S., & Mattison, D. (1997). Social work professional standards: An exploratory study. Social Work, 42 (2), 187 – 198.

Gifis, H. (1991). Law dictionary (3rd ed.). Hauppauge, NY: Barrons

Madden, G. (1998). Legal Issues in social work, counseling, and mental health. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.