As an experienced social care worker you have been asked to mentor a new social care worker. You plan to use a supervision session to explain about the duty of care and how this helps to protect individuals from harm and abuse. Prepare a set of notes to help you in this supervision session. In the notes, you must include an explanation of: Ai)What is meant by ‘duty of care’
Aii)How the duty of care affects the work of a social care worker Aiii)What having a duty of care means for a care giving organisation Aiv)How the duty of care contributes to safeguarding individuals
Ai)What is meant by ‘duty of care’
Duty of care means the obligations you have in your role as a care worker to ensure that your service users are supported and enabled to live in an environment which is free from prejudice and safe from abuse or injury. This means providing care and support for individuals within the law and also within the policies, procedures and agreed ways of working of your employer. Every individual should be supported and enabled to live in a safe environment and it is your responsibilities under the duty of care are to do everything reasonable within the definition of your job role to make this happen. Aii)How the duty of care affects the work of a social care worker A care worker has responsibility at work, under the duty of care, to do everything reasonable within the law and also within the policies, procedures and agreed ways of working of your employer to make the environment for your service users safe.
Your duty of care means that you must aim to provide high quality care to the best of your ability and say if there are any reasons why you may be unable to do so. As a care worker, you must adhere to a standard of reasonable care and you are expected to keep your knowledge and skills up to date in order to provide a service of no less a quality than that to be expected based on those skills, etc. If you do not work in this way, you could be considered negligent or incompetent. You also need to keep accurate and up to date records of your work. However, you must keep those records confidential except where the wider duty of care or the public interest might justify disclosure.
Aiii)What having a duty of care means for a care giving organisation The duty of care to a service user exists from the moment they are accepted for treatment or a task is accepted and they begin to receive services. This obligation applies to those working part time or full time, those in agency or temporary roles as well as students and volunteers. All health and social care organisations, whether they are public, private or voluntary organisations, have a duty of care. Their duty of care is to provide a comprehensive service to citizens and to demonstrate that, within the available resources, the appropriate priorities are chosen. They must also ensure that those people who are providing that care are able to do so safely in appropriate and timely manner.
To ensure this is the case, training is provided by employers to help ensure that their employees’ knowledge and skills is up to date. Aiv)How the duty of care contributes to safeguarding individuals In order to safeguard individuals from harm, care workers have a duty of care to raise any concerns they have about any aspect of their work. These could be things such as inadequate working conditions, poor equipment, poor practice by other staff, and also raising concerns about potential abuse cases and situations of neglect. If such a situation did arise or the care worker were in any doubt at any time, it would be their duty to raise these issues with their supervisor / manager. A negligent act could be unintentional but careless or intentional that results in abuse or injury. A negligent act is breaching the duty of care. If an individual has evidence that you have been negligent, you are likely to be disciplined. You could lose your job and you could have legal action taken against you.
Task B: Reflective account
Describe two situations which demonstrate a conflict or dilemma between exercising a duty of care and the rights of an individual. In this first scenario, the care and support plan for a physically disabled individual includes for the support worker to take them to a café or restaurant every week. This gives them the opportunity to dine out as they are unable to do this alone. However, in this case the client is overweight and a diabetic and their doctor has said they should be making wiser choices.
In situations where there is a conflict of interest or a dilemma between an individual’s rights and a carer’s duty of care, it is best practice to make sure the individual is aware of the consequences of their choice and that they have the mental capacity to understand the risks involved in their choice.
Presenting the client with the information and facts in a non-judgemental way allows the individual to make an informed choice about where and what they eat. The care worker should take care to use an encouraging and supportive tone of voice and words so that the individual does not feel bullied or harassed into doing what they think the care worker wants them to do.
The support worker should tell the individual the facts about eating at McDonalds and ask them if they would like to try somewhere different. It is the role of the care assistant to assist them in making those choices and reducing the risks without compromising their rights. Ultimately, if the client does not want to do so, then the care worker should take them to McDonalds if this remains their choice.
If an individual insists on doing something that the care worker disagrees with, they can only advise and encourage them. However, they would be failing in their duty of care if they did not try to prevent the client coming to any harm although in this case, intervention was not necessary.
Any ongoing concerns the care worker has should be discussed with their manager and perhaps they could also request the client be given more information about their condition from a health worker or dietician so they have the full facts in order to make wise choices.
In the second scenario, let us assume that the client has been categorised by the appropriate professional authorities as ‘a person who lacks capacity’. The Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA) has a set of criteria to determine whether a person is able to make informed decisions and choices. The term ‘a person who lacks capacity’ means a person who is unable to make a particular decision or take a particular action for themselves at the time the decision or action needs to be taken. The dilemma is that the care worker would still want to respect the decisions of the client but would need to exercise a duty of care to make sure that this person was not exploited as they are very vulnerable.
If, after a discussion with the client, the care worker had concerns that the client had made an inappropriate decision, they would need to report it to their manager, for example, if the person has given their money away or if another person has “borrowed” it etc. By passing the information to the manager, the care worker would have respected the client’s privacy by not revealing information to outside agencies without permission and also fulfilled their duty of care by trying to safeguard them from harm. A record of the incident should be made in writing and both signed and dated. It would then be the manager’s role to inform outside agencies if appropriate, such as the police, or the client’s family.
Task C: Guidance Notes
Write a set of guidance notes for social care workers to help them deal with complaints. In the notes, you must: Ci)Explain legal and organisational requirements for dealing with complaints. Cii)Describe how best to respond to complaints from service users, other practitioners and the family of service users Ci)Anyone who has a concern regarding the Stockport NHS Foundation Trust which includes Tameside and Glossop Community Healthcare can make a complaint. A service user can complain about the service or the treatment they have received or alternatively, a complaint can be made on behalf of another person. If anyone is unhappy with any aspect of their care or the service received, they should speak to member of staff as soon as possible.
If that staff member cannot resolve the problem or the person is not comfortable talking to them, the complainant can contact the Patient and Customer Services Department (PCS) by phone, email or post as soon as possible. The PCS aim to resolve all complaints quickly and satisfactorily but if the issue is too complex to resolve quickly, they may ask them to put their concerns in writing so they can begin a formal investigation. Cii)Treat the person with respect, listen to their concerns and reassure them that the matter will be treated seriously. Deal with the issue promptly and in many cases, it should be possible to sort out the problem straight away. If the member of staff approached cannot resolve the problem, the PCS department may need to be involved. Explain to the person how the procedure works and timeframes:
The complaint will be reviewed by the Head or Deputy Head of Patient & Customer Services. It will be graded according to the complexity and severity of the issue. A case officer will be appointed to coordinate the investigation. The case officer will check whether there are any confidentiality issues and also whether more than one organization is involved. If necessary, the persons consent will be required so that additional organization are informed. Details of the complaint will recorded on the Risk Management Database and forwarded to the correct department for investigation. Patient confidentiality will be respected. For example, if the complainant is acting on behalf of someone else, a form requesting the authorisation of the patient to disclose confidential information to them may be required.
Similarly, if the patient themselves is unable to provide their consent, e.g. they have died, then appropriate authorisation for the complainant to act and receive information on the patient’s behalf may be required, such as written consent from the Next of Kin. The person who has raised a complaint should not worry that they will discriminated against and that their, or their relatives, future healthcare will be affected. To maintain confidentiality of patients and staff, letters of complaints and their replies are not stored in the patients’ records. They are kept centrally within the Patient & Customer Services Department. If the person is unhappy with the response that the Trust provides or they would like further clarification of the points raised, they should contact the case officer dealing with the complaint to discuss further options.
The Trust will acknowledge the complaint by contacting the complainant within 3 working days of it being received. The Trust will strive to provide the complainant with a full response, wherever possible, within 25 working days. If it is likely to take longer than 25 working days to resolve, then a date by which a response is anticipated will be provided plus ongoing progress reports will be given at regular intervals.
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