- What is Duty of Care? How is it applied in your work role as a disability worker?
Law that compels people to behave in such a way as not to put at risk or to harm members of the community is Duty of Care. Duty of care is concerned with ensuring that individuals in a society are treated with maximum dignity and respect. Under the common law of duty of care, being in a position where someone else relies on you to be vigilant, and where, if you are not vigilant, it is sensibly predictable that the cared for might suffer harm or might be put at risk of harm. A person is said to have breached duty of care when he or she fails to meet an appropriate standard of care, if such a standard exists. Duty of care is can be applied in several circumstances, including my work role as a disability worker (Acquired Brain Injury Outreach Service, 2011).
As a disability worker, I have a duty of care to anyone who might reasonably be affected by my activities, requiring that I wok in a way that does not expose others to a perverse risk of harm- psychological, physical or financial. In other words, as a disability worker, I am required to be both legally and ethically accountable for my actions under the common law of duty of care. I must protect my clients form risks of harm or injury that I can predict or foresee, meaning that I am required to act with knowledge of the presenting disability, the living situations of the disabled, personal abilities and professional limitations. Consequently, any form of advice given to the disabled must be within personal role or expertise as a disability worker (Acquired Brain Injury Outreach Service, 2011).
- What are some of the common legal issues and legislations relevant to the disability sector
- Privacy and confidentiality
In the disability sector, all clients have a legal right to privacy in their personal information. Therefore, disability workers are prohibited by law from seeking for information that is not necessary for performance of their duties. In addition, the law compels disability workers to keep confidential, all information received about their clients, except with the consent of the person with disability. Disability workers also have the legal right to privacy and confidentiality in their relationships with clients. The Privacy Act (Commonwealth) 1988, and Privacy Amendment (Private Sector) Act (Commonwealth) 2000 document that, involvement of family members or guardians of people with disability in decision making depends on the expressed wishes of the person receiving support, or the legal rights of the family members or guardians in relation to the person receiving support. In addition, all information about clients must be accurate and safely kept, and only disclosed under legal instruction (Family and Community Services, 2001).
- Mandatory Reporting
People with disability are protected by law with regards to mandatory reporting. For example, the Disability (mandatory reporting) Act of 2012 provides protection of persons with disability, where people with disability, disability worker, family or guardian are protected from facing legal liability when they report any case of abuse or neglect to the disabled. They are therefore free under this act to present voluntary or mandatory notification to responsible bodies (Legislative Council, 2012).
- Restrictive practice
People with disabilities should be restricted from engaging in activities that are likely to cause harm or that are dangerous to their health. Disability workers are required by law to provide positive behavior support to people with disability including children, youths and adults. Restrictive practice laws help to ensure quality work practice for disability workers towards their clients. For instance, the Disability Services (Restrictive practice) Act of 1993 (NSW) explains the restrictive practices for disability workers and their clients (Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care, 2009).
- Equal Opportunity
The law defines the right for people with disability including the right for access to public service and employment. For instance, the Fair Work Act of 2008 (Commonwealth) require that people with disability be offered equal employment opportunities and be allowed to make independent decisions. This Act recognizes people with disability as persons who can perform tasks similar to those performed by healthy people regardless of their physical status (Australian Law Reform Commission, 2013).
- Disability Discrimination
People with disability are also protected by law from discrimination on the basis of their physical status. This group of people should not be prevented from participating in community-based services, especially those that do not touch their areas of disability, solely because they are disabled. The legislation protecting people with disability from discrimination is the Disability Discrimination Act of 1993 (NSW) (Australian Law Reform Commission, 2013).
- Disability support services must adhere to the National Disability Standards. List the eight disability standard and briefly describe them.
The National Standards for Disability Services are the documented rules that disability support service providers need to follow. These standards help in ensuring that there is generally good service for people with disability nationally. They also help disability workers to do things that are important to them while attending to people with disability. There are a total of eight National Standards for Disability Services. The first standard is Service Access that requires disability support service provider to help the disabled while in need. The service must have fair rules that must be communicated to the client in a simple and comprehensible manner. The second standard Individual Needs that requires the service provider to respect his or her client for whom he or she is. This means that the client must receive help to do things that are important to him or her. The service provider must therefore work out the best plan that can enable the client to do things that are important to him (National Standards for Disability Services).
The third standard is Decision Making and Choice that allows people with disability to have a say about things that affect their lives, or rather, things that are important to them. Their service providers must listen to their opinions, and help them make good choices and decisions. The fourth standard is Privacy, Dignity, and Confidentiality that guides service providers towards demonstrating respect when they talk to or about their clients. Under this standard, people with disability must be treated with total respect by ensuring that personal care is private and comfortable, and that personal information is kept in a private place. The fifth standard is Participation and Inclusion that gives people with disability the freedom to join in activities with other people in the community. It is therefore the responsibility of the service provider to help his or her client in joining community services and activities like sports. While doing so, he or she must help the client to make and keep positive relationships with people that are important to him or her (National Standards for Disability Services).
The sixth standard is Valued Status that states that people with disability must be able to feel important and do important things. The disability worker must help his client to participate in things that make him feel important, and in learning new skills. The seventh standard is Complaints and Disputes that allows clients to address their discomforts to their service providers if at all they have a problem with the nature of service provided. When this happens, the disability worker must listen to the client’s complaint, and tell them other places of people they can consult about their complaints. Comprehensible information must always be provided to people with disability at all times. The eighth and last standard is Service Management that requires disability workers to have written rules about how their services work. In addition, they must spend money only on the right things and keep records of money spent. Additional requirements under the Service Management standard include provision of safe personal and medical care, making sure that food is always healthy, and following any laws and rules that are relevant to the disability sector (National Standards for Disability Services).
- People with disabilities have the same rights as everyone else in society. How do you uphold the following rights?
- Right to complain
Like everyone else in the society, people with disabilities have a right to complain. They must feel safe to communicate to their service providers about the nature of services offered to them. In addition, they have the right to tell their service providers how they want services to be done to them (Lockyer et al., 2003).
- Right to informed choice
People with disabilities have the right to make informed choices about the services provided to them just like everyone else in the society. This right requires service providers to explain to their clients; the risks, benefits, all parties involved, expected outcomes, and matters of confidentiality with regards to the services provided. People with disability can therefore make choices of whether to receive the services or not, without facing legal liability (Lockyer et al., 2003).
- Freedom of Association
According to Lockyer et al. (2003), people with disabilities are also entitled to freedom of association like everyone else in the society. These people should therefore not be prevented from associating with other people in the society on grounds of their disability status. They have a right to choose people with whom to associate, so long as they are comfortable with the association.
- Right to express ideas and opinions
People with disabilities are capable of making decisions, meaning that they have opinions and ideas over things just like everyone else in the society. They therefore have the right to express ideas and opinions just like the normal persons. Lockyer et al. (2003), emphasizes that no person will treat people differently or unfairly by preventing them from expressing their ideas and opinions merely because of their disability.
- What procedures would an organization have in place for managing complaints?
Organizations nowadays recruit diverse employees including people with disabilities. Like every other employee, people with disabilities have a right to complain and the organization must have properly laid down procedures for managing complaints. Complaints by people with disabilities may arise in an organization when the organization fails to provide a relevant service. Inadequate standards of service from the organization, mistreatment by service provider, and dissatisfaction with the organization’s policy governing disability can also trigger complaints from people with disabilities in an organization (East Ayrshire Council, 2012).
The best procedure that can be adopted by an organization to manage such complaints consists of three distinct stages namely; frontline resolution stage, investigation stage and independent external review stage. In frontline resolution stage, the organization needs to look at the nature of the complaint presented. This is because the complaint might require on-the-spot apology, meaning that it may not require an investigation. The complaint is solved at stage one if it does not require further investigations. The organization must however remember to record the complaint details, outcome and action taken, for service improvement by management (East Ayrshire Council, 2012).
The complaint will move to the investigation stage if it needs further examination. Complaints that get to investigation stage are always complex and of ‘high risk.’ Investigation timeline should be created, say 20 days, for thorough examination of the points raised in the complaint. Responses to the issues must be recorded and signed off by the senior management in the organization. If no clear evidence is found at investigation stage, the complaint moves to the independent external review stage where the senior management assesses whether there is any evidence of service failure and whether the complaint passed the investigation stage due to maladministration. The found evidence is therefore addressed as requested in the complaint for continued peaceful co-existence within the organization (East Ayrshire Council, 2012).
- What might be covered in an organization’s policy on client confidentiality and privacy?
Organizations dealing with people with disabilities must formulate policies that will act as guidelines on how to handle this group of people. An organization’s policy on client confidentiality and privacy might cover a number of issues. First, the policy should define the types of client information that the organization can collect. To maintain confidentiality and privacy of people with disabilities, an organization must be sure to only collect client that can be shown to be relevant to the organization’s duty of care responsibilities and to effective service delivery (Family and Community Services, 2001).
Second, an organization’s policy on client confidentiality and privacy might cover the procedure that needs to be followed when the organizations wants to handle any type of information from the client. It is important that the organization seeks a written consent of the client or guardian prior to obtaining information about the client from any other source or sending the same information to any other source. Third, the policy might cover how the organization will store client information and specify the organization staff that will granted access to client information. Personal information about a client must be stored securely and should be protected from viewing by the general public and unauthorized organization staff (Family and Community Services, 2001).
Fourth, an organization’s policy on client confidentiality and privacy should seek to advise the client family of the nature of personal information that the organization holds about the client. Fifth, the policy might cover how the organization will advise the client and family of their right to get access to the information that is held by the organization in respect to the client. Sixth, an organization that is concerned about maintaining confidentiality and privacy of people with disabilities needs to have a policy that outlines the procedure that it would use to manage complaints, including documentation of such complaints. Generally, an organization’s policy that addresses all the six issues will ensure that all clients of the organization have the same level of confidentiality and privacy as is expected by the rest of the community (Family and Community Services, 2001).
- What do you think is meant by ‘ethics’ and ‘ethical practice’?
I think the term ethics is used to refer to what a person believes to be right or wrong. It might also refer to standards that a society accepts to be right or wrong. Ethical practice is an act of ding what is right as per individual’s reasoning or as per the standards set by the society. Variations among individuals and the existence of different cultures in a society make it difficult to have a common definition about what is ether right or wrong. Basically, an action is ethical if the person involved in it can justify his or her actions.
- What is the difference between ethical and legal issues?
Any organization or person who wants to want to build sustainable trust and good reputation in the community must learn to distinguish between what is legal and what is ethical. An ethical person or organization always do more than they are required to do, and less that what they are allowed to do by law. Law defines prohibitions and mandates, that is, what people cannot do and what people must do respectively. On the other hand, ethics defines what people should do. An ethical issue therefore arises when questions are raised about whether an action is moral or immoral, while a legal issue arises when questions are raised about whether an action has followed what is required by law. Every situation has both legal and ethical dimensions because what people say or do can and will be judged in terms of ethical and moral considerations (Josephson, 2013).
- In your role as disability worker state two ways you can be involved in the review and development of policies and protocols.
As a disability worker, I can be involved in the review of policies and protocols by being allowed to give opinions on what is not done right in the organization, and the possible changes that can help correct the existing situation. This way, my opinions will help the organization in making corrections to its current policies for the betterment of the lives of people with disabilities. I can also be involved in the development of new policies and protocols by being given the opportunity to identify any gaps that need to be fulfilled in order to ensure that people with disabilities get access to services that are important to them. In this manner, my ideas will help the organization to formulate new policies that never existed before.
- a. What are the different types of abuse that could be experienced by a person with disability?
People with disabilities experience different types of abuse. These are actions that are intended to cause injury or harm to people with disabilities. Domestic violence where people with disabilities are intimidated by their service support workers tend to cause fear, psychological or physical harm to them. People with disabilities are also likely to be neglected by people around them. Neglect occurs when people around a person with disability fail to provide the basic emotional or physical needs to the person. These might include services such as provision of medical care, adequate clothing, shelter, protection and many others. Since some people with disabilities are unable to defend themselves from attack by others, people frequently expose them to physical abuse or non-accidental injury thereby causing physical harm. Evidence of abuse for people with disabilities occurs when they are restricted from participating in certain activities for reasons other than medical necessity. Such a practice is considered to be abuse if it is not applied under a restricted practice authorization. Other forms of abuse that might be experienced by people with disabilities include sexual assault, financial abuse and emotional abuse (Macfarlane, 2008).
- What would you do if you suspected a client was being abused?
If I suspect a client was being abused, I would file a complaint about the same. This will require the organization to follow the laid down procedures for complaint management and to prevent future abuses of similar nature from taking place in future.
- If you are unsure about your role or responsibility in a situation, who would you seek direction from?
If I am unsure about my role or responsibility in a situation while handling people with disabilities, I would seek help from my seniors or supervisor who have more experience in dealing with people with disabilities than myself.
- Considering the client’s right to confidentiality and privacy and the need for consent to be given:-
- Who can have access to client’s files?
Clients have the right to view information in their files. Any other person can get access to such information only if the client agrees that this can happen (Family and Community Services, 2001).
- Can family members have access?
Family members can get access to client’s file only if determined necessary to the provision of quality services or following a legal instruction (Family and Community Services, 2001).
- What are the legal issues you can identify in this scenario?
Four legal issues can be identified in this scenario namely; client’s privacy and confidentiality, mandatory reporting for people with disability, right to complain and right to informed choice. Marita’s records should be kept private and confidential, her support worker should not be punished for reporting any form of abuse, Marita has the right to complain and should be given an informed consent before any person can access her financial records.
- Identify and explain any ethical issues in this scenario
Even though it is legally incorrect to view Marita’s financial records, doing so with respect to the presented scenario is the only way through which her source of problem can be identified. The action of a support worker is ethical if it helps in solving client’s problems. In order to have Marita’s financial records rectified, it is right for the worker to identify the problem and report the case to the supervisor.
- What would you do to help Marita uphold her rights?
In order to help Marita uphold her rights, I would file a complaint because failure to document withdrawals from her bank account is a form of financial abuse.
- Who could you refer Marita to for help?
I would refer Marita to the manager for help.
- What do you think is wrong with this picture
This is a wrong picture because the supervisor failed to ignore the different choices and preferences of his clients.
- How do you maintain the client’s right to decision making and choice
Clients have the right to decision making and choice. They should be involved in decision making while the shopping list is being prepared, and allowed to express their opinions about how the shopping process should be undertaken. In addition, they should be allowed to make personal choices on the types of items they need.
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Macfarlane, A. (2008). Subtle Forms of Abuse and Their Long Term Effects. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
National Standards for Disability Services. Retrieved, June 7 2014, from http://www.dhhs.tas.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/54843/NationalStandards_EasyRead_Book.pdf
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