Duty of Care - Duty of Care, Critical Thinking and Ethics...

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Duty of Care, Critical Thinking and Ethics Facilitated by Dr Caroline Ellison Introduction Professionals and practitioners who involve themselves in the lives of young people (including young people with a disability) must exercise care in the way they carry out their responsibilities. We need to consider what we do as well as what we do not do, and the impact our decisions make on those individuals we are attempting to support. We cannot guarantee the safety of others – but we can act reasonably. However, sometimes the situations we find ourselves in lack clarity and we need strategies for handling these situations. What is duty of care? The law imposes a duty of care on everyone (carers, the general public, etc.). This is a duty to take reasonable care and avoid injury to other people or damage to property as a result of our action or inaction. There is a duty not to be careless, by taking reasonable steps to avoid harm, while supporting sensible risk taking relevant for each individual. What is negligence? Negligence is the failure to exercise reasonable care, or a lack of proper care and attention. It can also be a failure to provide a reasonable standard of care/supervision or support which results in foreseeable harm to a person or their property. In cases of professional negligence involving someone with a special skill, that person is expected to show the skill of an average member of the profession. It is no defence to show that one was ‘doing one’s best’ if one’s conduct still falls below that of reasonable expectations in a given set of circumstances. In working with young people and/or people with a disability there is a need, through planning, to minimise possible harm. It is not possible to eliminate risk, only to formulate strategies to minimise it. Allowing someone to undertake or engage in a risky activity does not make you negligent. Failing to take any steps to minimise foreseeable harm could be. This is called ‘dignity of risk’. Dignity of Risk The ideal for individuals with a disability is to live a life which is as typical as possible to their non disabled peers. All people take risks. Duty of care can sometimes seem in conflict with allowing risk. Simply allowing a person to engage in an activity with inherent elements of danger or risk is not automatically negligent. When a staff member is uncertain, they should discuss the situation with other staff, a supervisor or seek guidance from management. Codes of Conduct/Ethics/Professional Standards There are codes of ethics that govern the work behaviour of some professionals, for example, nurses, doctors, lawyers and social workers. These codes do not expect perfect behaviour, but they do require acceptable, reasonable and competent practice. Professionals may also have a duty of care to achieve and maintain a standard of skill competency. That
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This note was uploaded on 02/15/2010 for the course IDIS 300 taught by Professor Popjoy during the Spring '10 term at Anne Arundel CC.

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Duty of Care - Duty of Care, Critical Thinking and Ethics...

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