Ethics of Care

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This essay will discuss the view that the service-user’s rights to autonomy and dignity should outweigh all other considerations. Autonomy is the right to chose or refuses care. The service users (and their workers) have the right to dignity

The government’s Dignity in Care initiative highlights that ‘High quality health and social care services should be delivered in a person-centred way that respects the dignity of the individual receiving them’. One crucial element of achieving dignity is for providers to understand the significance of human rights legislation. The legal framework of human rights and anti-discrimination law requires that health and social care workers, alongside other providers of public services, respect the dignity of people using services. As the Department of Health points out in ‘Human Rights in Healthcare – human rights ethos is an important way to improve services: Quite simply we cannot hope to improve people’s health and well-being if we are not ensuring that their human rights are respected. Human rights are not just about avoiding getting it wrong, they are an opportunity to make real improvements to people’s lives. Human rights can provide a practical way of making the common sense principles that we have as a society a reality. Human rights principles are very closely related to other principles of good professional practice that have underpinned public service provision for a long time. Human rights and health and social care practice share an ethical basis of concern with the autonomy, privacy and dignity of people using services. So, even before the vocabulary of human rights was developed, good practice in the delivery of social and healthcare recognised needs for privacy and dignity, and also recognised the tensions between these requirements and the need sometimes to protect people in vulnerable situations from harm.

However, the introduction of the Human Rights Act provided a real opportunity to look...
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