Those who work in social care have to develop a strong value system in the 'mixed economy of welfare' (Banks, 2001) with the constantly growing influence of legislation, policies and the private sector. Not to mention the struggle of trying to provide a holistic service with an ever decreasing budget and time constraints that ensue.
I believe that society has forgotten the power of a simple act of kindness, from one human being to another. Choice has been maligned today, simply by giving us so many choices and preventing many from enjoying that simple, yet powerful human right. The agency I work with is doing much in this area with adults, who are learning to live independently after long periods of institutionalisation. We celebrate choice in various forms, making a big deal of the mundaneness of life and the simplest decisions.
During my practice I have encountered three key psychological concepts that have allowed me to better understand values in social care. Eysenck's personality traits have assisted in being able to respond sensitively to service users when they are feeling anxious, moody, impulsive or aggressive. (Bingham, 2009)
Freud's Free-Association method helps develop the value of choice because it relies on psychic-determinism. It enables the client and counsellor to discover through symptomatic acts (Freudian-slips) (Jacobs, 2003).
Unconditional positive regard (UPR) (Rogers, 1967) is used in client-centered therapy. Using this principle means accepting and respecting others as they are without judgement or evaluation. I see this as a cornerstone to all psychological concepts.
Looking at three core values, I think honesty, integrity and reliability are sought after commodities in any profession, but they are integral in social care. Reliability affects everyone and it especially affects our services. If our goal is to provide a service and no one shows up for their shift, then it becomes increasingly difficult to do so. Integrity means being trusted, it is more than reliability. It is commitment, taking pride or care with those things one has been entrusted with. Honesty is more than telling the truth, even more than not omitting some of the facts in a report but it is encouraging others to be honest and truthful. Where there is no honesty service users can feel cheated and maligned.
Resolving conflicts in social care is an everyday occurrence. While reviewing daily logs I discovered that one of our service users was not attending a social club that he enjoyed. He was not being afforded his right to choice in this instance and this had to be rectified. It was also important to hear what my team mate had to say. Being a new team member he was not certain about procedure and was still acclimatising to our service user's home area. I decided in this instance it would be best to schedule him for more training shifts so he could learn about the service user's routine.
As professionals in training, we take on clear responsibilities to treat all colleagues, fellow students, and service users equally and fairly, regardless of our private opinions. Our commitment to equality is clearly expressed in Anti-Discriminatory Practice (ADP). ADP creates an environment where individuals feel respected, supported, safe, and protecting their self-esteem and allowing them to enjoy a positive self-image (Thompson, 2006). It helps to avoid any type of discrimination that is based on race, disability, gender, sexual preference, religion, disability and class.
The underpinning values of ADP are dignity, privacy, choice, safety, realising potential, and equality and diversity (National Care Standards, 2014). These concepts when applied have a great influence on practice especially in situations involving social justice, individuality, confidentiality, equality and access to services based on individual need.