an ethical dilemma essay

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The Right to Confidentiality and Self-Determination

The social worker has the right to remain silent and preserve Mrs. Peterson's confidentiality. Since the social worker is content with the responses, the assessment of the client will finish and no further course of action recommendations will be made (Corey, Corey and Callanan 2007). These situations frequently occur when there are no immediate threats. The customer has the right to have their privacy and right to self-determination protected. This occurs when the social worker's assessment fails to identify any grave risks that the client may experience if their right to self-determination is upheld. It is important to note that social workers should hold with a high esteem the client’s confidential information and their ability to dictate the direction of their life as clearly indicated in the AASW Code of Ethics (Australian Association of Social Workers 2010).

Explaining the Impact of Old Age and the Importance of Care

However, despite the mandate of respecting the opinion of the client, the workers have the professional mandate to offer the best advice to the clients to ensure they get the best service to help them in their day to day walk. Mrs. Peterson is underestimating the impact of her old age on her ability to take care of herself. She feels she is in control yet from her explanation she has escaped more than two disastrous events that’s calls for additional care on her part. It is necessary for the worker to explain to Mrs. Paterson the impact of the would-be accident in her life had it happened or should it happen in life.

Understanding Concerns and Recommending Managed Care

It is also important to understand her concerns regarding the daughter taking over her savings. Engaging her further with concerns directed at making her accept being cared for the worker should clear the air on the intentions of her daughter to have her in a managed care facility (Brodaty et al. 2005). Sharing this with her will enable both of them to clear the air paving the way for them to deliberate on managed cared. Deliberation form her recent ordeals all shows the necessity of care placement which definitely will not be taken immediately by the client. The worker has, therefore, the obligation to recommend the option having Mrs. Peterson taken into managed care. This will be done by further explaining the different scenario necessary for her health and safety.

Protecting the Client's Life and Safety

It will be a high level of incompetence for any social worker to do nothing in the case of Mrs. Peterson. Despite her adamant refusal for outside care, the worker should use all means to help the client understand the value of aged care. The client seems to be having misconceptions concerning the same, and it’s, therefore, the responsibility of the worker to help her appreciate the role of assistance in her life (Stella 2006). It is paramount to have someone care for the client due to her age as well as her increasing instances of forgetfulness. Through this consideration, it is therefore inappropriate for the social worker to fail to do anything regarding the client’s situation. This will jeopardize her life despite attributable to the clear evidence of past events that point to her inability to live alone.

Consideration of Involuntary Placement

Another course of action can include the recommendation of Mrs. Peterson for involuntary placement citing her impaired judgment in the recent past as the main reasons for taking such a decision. It’s quite clear that Mrs. Peterson is suffering from the consequences of impaired judgment that evident through her recent event of forgetting to switch off the gas tap. Although she pushes this a common issue with many people, this is an issue that risked her life and that of her other neighbors (Kerridge, Lowe and Stewart 2009). The increasing forgetfulness instances testify to these claims calling for further emphasis for Mrs. Peterson to be placed under involuntary placement. Form one view this might be seen as an infringement into her rights as a citizen, but rather it’s a move to preserve her life. The code of ethics calls for workers to place the life of the clients before anything else and are therefore mandated to offer the best course of action to the client. It further empowers the worker in section 5.2.3 under informed consent, to limit the ability of the client to make a free decision if they feel that the client does not have any understanding capacity of their situation. This further allows the worker to advise the course of action that will be helpful for the client.

Consultation with Mrs. Peterson's Daughter

Due to her recent ordeals, it’s prudent to refer Mrs. Peterson for involuntary placement under in care management. This will help reduce her chances of escaping accidents by whiskers. It will also be peaceful for her daughter who is worried about her health and safety. Although her concerns regarding her money and valuables should be looked into she still needs to be put in involuntary care (Plath 2007). This worker is justified in undertaking this action since it has the life and safety of the client at heart. Although the client downplays the recent forgetfulness, it’s clear that danger is imminent if she continues living alone. Involuntary care will ensure that Mrs. Peterson is with the help of a third party who will assist her in household chores. It is possible that in an endeavor to remain active Mrs. Peterson has continually underestimated the impact of her forgetfulness.

Improving Contact with Mrs. Peterson's Daughter

The decision to recommend for involuntary care for the client is the understanding of the impact of her forgetfulness to those around her. Mrs. Peterson lives in an apartment that houses other elderly residents. In the event of a fire, it would have a catastrophic impact on the residents as not many of them would be able to escape. Her apartment at the ground floor would further intensify the impact of the fire on the rest of the building making it impossible for evading the disaster. Ensuring that the client is in the hands of an aged care professional is therefore paramount for the stability of the community she is living in (Gillingham 2007). Despite the clear signs that the client has the correct orientation on space, time, and place her forgetfulness is a threat to her safety as well as her neighbors.

Rebuilding Relationship with Mrs. Peterson's Daughter

The third course of action stipulates that client should contact Mrs. Peterson’s daughter to improve the number of times that she checks on her. Form her conversation, it’s clear that the client is adamantly in conflict with her daughter. She is under the impression that the daughter bent on taking away her money and valuable if she joins an aged care facility. This may just be a misunderstanding between the two based on past interaction. Her daughter seems to be more caring than being interested in her personal belongings. This, however, can affect the process of acquiring aged care for her (Brodaty et al., 2005). It is therefore crucial for the worker to inform the daughter concerning the situation and recommended further visit. Perhaps the client has developed an unwelcome attitude towards her daughter may be due to her absence.

Maintaining Constant Contact

It's possible that if Janice gave her best to reconnect with her mother her heart would soften up. This would help in clearing the air concerning the fears that Mrs. Peterson has over her valuables. Showing her that she is concerned about her well-being will help in enhancing the ability to accept aged care. Coming from a daughter, she might be more willing to listen to her on the issue. The worker will then act as a mediator on the issue if both parties fail to understand each other. It is necessary for the worker to adopt a neutral view on the same to bring both parties into a mutual understanding (Kerridge, Lowe, and Stewart 2009). The role of the worker is crucial in enabling both parties to make an all-inclusive decision that embraces all the parties. The worker respects the confidentiality of both parties and their right to self-determination (Reamer 1983).

Convincing Mrs. Peterson of the Need for Assistance

However, the worker seeks to provide an avenue for the making of the most appropriate decision that preserves the lives and safety of both parties. The worker tires all their bets to restore any broken relationship that may contribute to conflict. Whenever the worker is involved in a conflict between two parties who cannot find common ground, he or she ends up taking the role of a mediator. This facilitated by the ability of the worker to remain neutral and provide objective views regarding the issue (Stella 2006). Helping Janice understand the issue raised by her mother concerning her valuables and money. This will enable her to set things straight on her motive of suggesting care for her mother. This will facilitate easier movement to residential care or an appropriate plan that will ensure the safety of Mrs. Peterson.

Maintaining Constant Contact

Staying in contact is essential for Mrs. Peterson before any assisted are plan is implemented. There is a need for the creation of new contact by Janice as the daughter through maintaining contact with her mother. Due to her old age, she needs to be constantly checked upon by her daughter as a way of improving their relations as well as her wellbeing. Having contact can assist in eliminating any fear and mistrust she might be having (Plath 2007). This will help her gain trust with her daughter paving the way for the easier movement to residential care. The maintenance of close contact will also enable Janice to understand the challenges she is going through appreciating the role of aged care and its urgency (Australian Association of Social Workers 2010). It is important to note that people care much about the relationship they have more than any physical substances. It is paramount for her to rebuild the relationship through maintaining constant contact with her mother.

Ensuring Safety Measures and Persuasion

The fourth course of action attributes that it is important for the social worker to convince Mrs. Peterson of her condition and her inability to take care of herself due to the recent events. The code of ethics stipulates the need to uphold the client’s role of self-determination up to the point that her decisions are based on limited information (Australian Association of Social Workers 2010). Mrs. Peterson alleges that she can take care of herself and does not need any help. She cites baking cake for her friends as well as taking care of her poodle as sings of her stability and ability to take of herself. However, her recent instances of forgetfulness prove otherwise. They point at signs of someone who needs aged care. It is, therefore, the role of the worker to convince Mrs. Peterson of the impact of the instance she is downplaying both to her and the neighbors (Corey, Corey and Callanan 2007). According to the assessment, it is clear that the client needs urgent help in her day to day encounters. Her recent forgetfulness might prove to be disastrous in the near future if not taken care of well. This fails to convince anyone of her ability to take care of herself.

Installing Safety Measures and Suggesting Caregiver Assistance

The worker can recommend immediate measures that will be geared towards ensuring her safety before she accepts to move for residential care. It is clear that the client has an issue with the usage of electrical appliances as well as the gas stove. It’s paramount for safety gauges to be immediately installed on these appliances to ensure their safe usage. The electrical appliances can be fitted with automatic switches that turn off in the event of inactivity (Brodaty et al., 2005). This will ensure that there is no event to worry about even if she forgets to turn off the appliances. This will safeguard her before she accepts aged care. The client further seems to have a bad attitude towards aged care. She seems to enjoy being in her premises where she is able to control her won activities. This can be used as an avenue for introducing aged care to her. The worker should seek to convince the client of the advantages of having a person living with her to assist in the daily chores. This can be done on a part-time or full-time basis. Helping the client with her daily chores will ensure minimal interaction with the electrical appliances that may have put her life at risk.

Ensuring Caregiver Vigilance

The caregiver will be cautious about the client’s interaction at home and be ready to act in the case where she forgets to do something (Gillingham 2007). This will be an appropriate solution for the client and will reduce the worries that may grip her daughter concerning her safety. This has the potential of enhancing the quality of life that the client leads due to the improved safety.


It is important to note that in all the above course of actions, the safety and preservation of the client’s life are paramount (Australian Association of Social Workers 2010). The worker should recommend only the actions that have the long-term benefit to the client for their wellbeing. A thorough assessment should ensure the identification of the various challenges that the client faces and further recommendation of the best options. It is clear that the client needs a short-term and along term option. The short-term option will assist her before she accepts and recognizes the need for aged care. This will involve undertakings to limit the occurrences of accidents that may prove fatal due to her forgetfulness. This will be done in line with the continuous convinces the client of the seriousness of her case and the need for aged care. This will comprise the long-term plan that can take various options such as a part-time or a full-time caregiver living with the client. Further with the client’s consent, she can be moved to a residential care facility.


Australian Association of Social Workers, 2010. AASW: Code of Ethics. Australian Association of Social Workers.

Brodaty, H., Thomson, C., Thompson, C. and Fine, M., 2005. Why caregivers of people with dementia and memory loss don't use services. International journal of geriatric psychiatry, 20(6), pp.537-546.

Corey, G., Corey, M. and Callanan, P., 2007. Issues and Ethics in the Helping Professions, Brooks/Cole Cengage Learning, Belmont, USA

Gillingham, P., 2007. The Australian Association of Social Workers and social policy debates: A strategy for the future?. Australian Social Work, 60(2), pp.166-180.

Kerridge, I., Lowe, M. and Stewart, C., 2009. Ethics and Law for the Health Professions.

Plath, D., 2007. Independence in old age: The route to social exclusion?. British Journal of Social Work, 38(7), pp.1353-1369.

Reamer, F.G., 1983. The concept of paternalism in social work. Social Service Review, 57(2), pp.254-271.

Stella, J., 2006. Ethics and Law for the Health Professions. Emergency Medicine Australasia, 18(4), pp.411-412.

March 15, 2023

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