Ethics in Social Work Essay Example

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  8
Wordcount:  2098 Words
Date:  2022-08-23


In practice, most social employees often find themselves challenged with ethical dilemmas. It is essential for social workers to apply the social work code of ethics to guide them to engage in ethical decision making and manage their values in a way that allows professional conduct during practice. To understand the various models of ethical decision making, it is essential for social workers to become familiar with the code of ethics. Ethics discusses the principles of morality and clear standards of right and wrong to describe the human character. Ethical egoism is a concept that explains how persons make decisions concerning t behavior it suggests that people make arrangements with the favor of their self-interests. It further states that choices are sometimes also affected by the morality aspect of an act (Svara, 2014). It differs from other concepts of ethics such as the philosophy which says that one's decisions are influenced by one's interests and rational ethics that suggest that people's actions are entirely affected by their own choices.

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Ethical Egoism

According to the concept of ethical egoism, people decide after weighing the action and the moral aspect of the operation. This kind of reasoning can contribute a lot to the way people reason on morality and can help reduce the ethical dilemmas in the non-profit making organizations. Nonprofit making organizations are organizations formed for the social function. Their primary purpose is not for profit making, but they are dedicated to social cause, i.e., from a shared point of society. The organizations work on an ultimate objective and mostly use their extra revenue to meet the set goals.

Like any other organizations, they are faced with ethical dilemmas in their course of operation. Some of the ethical dilemmas include conflicts of interest which mostly rise from multiple aspects of the organization; it could result from the benefit of members of the board of management or the financials. It happens when the respective parties differ in opinion. This kind of disagreement may result in the suspension of an organization's operations if the matter is taken to courts. Honesty is another form of the ethical dilemma is affecting the organizations. Dishonesty in this kind of organizations happens when the senior board members leave out specific details about finances and management when presenting important organization material (Rhodes, 2016). This kind of ethics results in disputes and withdrawal of sponsorship by donors.

Tainted Money

Tainted money is another form of unethical behavior. This act is most familiar to the managers. This is receiving money as gifts from individuals whose funds origin cannot be traced. The funds could be from unethical sources such as from drug dealings and embezzlement schemes. This kind of act betrays the society as it goes against the mission to serve the community. Privacy involves providing relevant information to the donors.

For a state of affairs to be considered an ethical dilemma, there must be three conditions. The first condition of a moral dilemma occurs when the "agent', has to make a choice or decision about the best course of action. Uncomfortable situations that do not require option are not considered ethical dilemmas. For instance, students are always needed to be to be under supervisor during the internship. Therefore, there is no matter of choice that results in an ethical breach when the student decides to discuss a case with the supervisor. Secondly, a situation must have different courses of action for which they are supposed to choose. The last condition is that regardless of the class of action chosen, an ethical principle must be compromised. These situations have no perfect solutions (Banks, 2015). When identifying ethical dilemmas, it is vital to make a distinction between laws, ethics, policies, and morals.

Personal values relate to professional values based on the above situation as the professional values guide a person toward doing what is right while own values will also drive a person towards attaining the truth of the matter. This means that, based on the above situation, both the professional and personal costs play a significant role in ensuring that the codes of ethics are strictly adhered to which means that things will be done right. In most cases, ethics are principles used to establish the right course of action a social worker has to rely on logical and rational criteria reasoning during decision making. In complex situations of ethical dilemmas, it is important to consider social work agency policies and laws before choosing any course of action. In the Code of Ethics, Standard MMM acknowledges that legal obligation may require social workers to provide confidential information to an extent as required by law. However, the Code of Ethics requires that agency policies should not interfere with the ethical practice of social work.

Ethical Dilemma

The ethical dilemma discussed occurred November 2017 during the internship period. The dilemma revolves around a client registered under the Senior Resources Centre's Home Delivered Meals initiative. The program facilitates home delivery of lunch to citizens aged above 60 years. The food is specially prepared by a local catering site at the center's nutrition site. The client of concern has been receiving meals since 2010 and reassessment needed to be done in November. According to the program policies, reassessments are conducted after every six months to determine whether a participant is still eligible to receive the meals.

Together with the field instructor, we visited the client at his resident. When I approached the door to knock, I smelt marijuana from an open window near the door. Later, the client's grandson, looking 18 years or older, came to open the door claiming the client was not available at the moment. When the field instructor asked him where the client was, he changed the story saying the client was in his room taking a nap. From his appearance, the grandson had red eyes and a slurred speech which meant he was under the influence of marijuana. Form the smell emanating from the house; it was clear he had been smoking marijuana. After conducting the reassessment with the client, both the field instructor and I were unsure of how to proceed on the issue. Drug use negatively affects the overall health and wellbeing of the client although it is not clear whether it is up to social workers to report such incidences.

The Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) Code of Ethics clearly outlines the professional values and principles of social workers. These values and beliefs are used to guide social work practice and help social workers to make ethical decisions (Gray, 2007). In the situation described above, the ethical standards of conflict state that the primary responsibility of the social worker is to promote the well being of their clients. On the other hand, the aspect of ethics suggests that the client's privacy should be respected. The second standard is also in conflict with the drug possession laws that classify Marijuana as a controlled substance for which possession is considered a misdemeanor.


In social work, all the decisions made have implications for both the social worker and the client. Therefore, social workers have the moral obligation to consider the consequences of their decisions on their clients and themselves. All the affected individuals and groups are stakeholders who hold a moral claim on the decision maker. The first person to be affected is the client because the ethical dilemma revolves around them and determines what is best for the client. In this situation, the grandson is also a stakeholder. Other stakeholders in the moral dilemma include the field instructor and me. Finally, the last stakeholder is the organization providing the service which is the Senior Resource Centre and the police department.

Potential Courses of Action

When it comes to ethical dilemmas, it is essential to identify all the possible decisions, participants, and the benefits and risks associated with each choice. Considering the situation described above, there are three possible decisions; discussing the issue with the client, doing nothing or reporting the incident to the police. Doing nothing means not reporting the drug use incident or confronting the client about the grandson's drug use. For this option, the only participants are the field instructor and I. Here, and the choice is to document the visit as required and avoid further investigation of the incident concerning the grandson's drug use. This is beneficial to the client because the grandson will continue staying there and may be of help in case of any accidents or medical emergencies. However, the risk is that the grandson may become more abusive which may affect the health of the client negatively due to smoke inhalation.

The next possible decision that could have been made in the scenario above is reporting the matter to the police department or Adult Protection Services. The key stakeholders likely to be affected by this decision are the grandson, client, area police department, social services department, the field instructor and I. This course of action is beneficial because the client will be able to live in a healthy environment and a drug use incident will have been addressed. Regardless, the risk is that the client may become displeased and then discontinue from the senior resource center food program.

The final decision is to discuss the matter with the client, which provides him with the option of deciding the best way forward. This approach is limited to the grandson, client, field instructor, and I. The benefit of this option is that the client would have been made aware of the issue and may take steps to evict his grandson. Also, the grandson will become aware of the risk posed by marijuana to the client and maybe desist from the behavior. The potential risk of the decision is that the client might be angered by our involvement which may make the grandson defensive and aggressive hence the agency might lose a client.


For analysis purposes, it is necessary to examine the courses of action described above thoroughly. This involves looking at the various reasons opposed to and in favor of the potential courses of action. The first option is not doing anything at all about the situation. The primary goal in support of this decision is the Code of Ethics standard MMM. According to the standard, social workers are not allowed to share client information. Accordingly, social workers are expected to respect their client's privacy rights. As such, not reporting the matter to authorities' means the field instructor and I would be protecting the client's privacy. The other reason favoring the decision is that it is not under the jurisdiction of social workers to report such incidence especially considering the fact there was no physical evidence of the drug or elderly neglect (Lind, 2017). Nevertheless, the Code of Ethics standard MMM opposes this decision because it clearly explains that it is the responsibility of social workers to promote the well-being of their clients. Therefore, doing nothing will mean a breach of the standard.

The second option is to report the matter to Adult Protection Services or the police department. This decision adheres to the ethical standard MMM which is concerned with the promotion of clients wellbeing. The other reason for supporting this decision is that it favors my values against the use of drugs. Additionally, it is against the law to possess marijuana. However, the ethical standard MMM oppos...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for Essay:

What is the concept of ethical egoism and how does it relate to decision making?

Ethical Egoism refers to individuals making decisions based on self-interests while considering the ethical aspect of any action, while still considering moral implications of those actions. This outlook influences people's reasoning around morality and can reduce ethical dilemmas.

What are some ethical dilemmas faced by nonprofit organizations?

Nonprofit organizations frequently face ethical dilemmas that present as conflicts of interest, dishonest financial management practices and accepting tainted money as challenges to their mission and community trust. Such issues may stem from differing opinions among board members; dishonest financial practices could lead to disputes or the withdrawal of sponsorship; accepting such money could put at risk the organization and end up undermining its mission and betraying trust within their local area.

How should social workers handle ethical dilemmas involving client confidentiality and potential harm?

Social workers should adhere to the professional values and principles outlined in their code of ethics, with primary responsibilities being to promote client wellbeing while respecting privacy rights. If situations threaten client safety (for instance drug use) it may be necessary to report such events to relevant authorities immediately in order to protect clients.

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