The primary task of the social work profession is to promote human well-being and help meet the fundamental human needs of all people, with particular attention to the requirements and empowerment of people who are at risk, oppressed, and living in conditions of poverty [Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW, 2005)].
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A notable and defining attribute of social work is the profession’s focus on individual welfare in a social context and the welfare of society. It is imperative in social work that attention is paid to the environmental forces that cause, add to, and address problems encountered in living. In achieving this, the following six values are used to guide social workers, Inherent Dignity and Worth of Persons; Pursuit of Social Justice; Service to Humanity; Integrity of Professional Practice; Confidentiality in Professional Practice, and Competence in Professional Practice. Social workers in Canada abide by these values in accordance with Canadian law and the international conventions on human rights of the United Nations (CASW, 2005).
The first value, “Respect for the Inherent Dignity and Worth of Persons” is based on the premise that social work is established on a long-term dedication to respecting the intrinsic self-esteem and worth of all individuals (CASW, 2005). Social workers must therefore recognize the respect and diversity of society. This must put into consideration all aspects of the individuals, their families, groups, and all communities. In addition, social workers must ensure that they respect their client’s right of choice and ensure they protect anyone from all forms of violence (CASW, 2005).
The second value, “Pursuit of Social Justice” requires social workers to believe in the dedication to the people they serve, whether individually or collectively. Social workers have to provide incentives and opportunities for the overall benefit of humanity, without any form of discrimination (CASW, 2005).
Social workers also have to observe the third value, “Service to Humanity,” which requires them to be diligent in the provision of service to others (CASW, 2005). The workers have to balance individual needs and the freedoms and rights of the humanity that they serve.
Members of social work teams also have to uphold the fourth value, “Integrity in Professional Practice,” which entails the demonstration of respect for the profession’s other values as mentioned above. In this context, social workers have to achieve impartiality in delivering their services (CASW, 2005).
The success of social work lies in the ability to keep ideas confidential to avoid conflict. This is the essence of the fifth value, “Confidentiality in Professional practice.”
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The sixth value, “Competence in Professional Practice” entails the social workers’ respect for clients’ right to competent service. Hence, the workers have to ensure that they work diligently and provide the best services to their clients CASW, 2005).
Social workers are generally guided by self-determination and respect for all people that they serve (Compton and Burt, 1994). Self-determination is a prerequisite since the social worker handles people with different needs and wants. Hence, social workers must respect their clients, whether they are vulnerable or privileged. In addition, confidentiality is a vital guiding approach. Social workers have to ensure that they keep secretly any information from one client and ensure that there is no opportunity for such information to reach another client or unrecognized authorities. While delivering their services, the social workers are also guided by the approach that they must promote society’s welfare. This is achieved by appreciating the diversity of different societies and the needs of the different people that form these societies (Compton and Burt, 1994).
Social work is all about meeting people. Hence, the workers must be well equipped in research skills such as interviewing clients, assessment of situations and information collected, and be able to plan for such events adequately. Good interviewing skills entail being courteous, turning up on time for the interview, and speaking directly with the clients, not their carers or assistants (Compton and Burt, 1994). In addition, the social worker should not use technical jargon during the interviewing process. The social worker should also be able to pay full attention to what their clients say irrespective of the difficulties that the clients might have in expressing themselves. If the social workers have to provide anything to their client, they have to quote it s it is without overstating (Compton and Burt, 1994).
In the interview process, the social workers must ensure that they observe dignity and respond kindly to the clients. They should also understand the importance of privacy of both the clients and the issues discussed. In order to ensure that there is good communication between the social worker and the client, the social worker must ensure that that all points are clarified before proceeding to the next step (Compton and Burt, 1994).
Social workers are usually trained to gain the necessary assessment and evaluation skills in order to be able to determine the necessary steps to be taken in handling any kind of problem. The workers can thus assess emergency cases, humanitarian cases, and so on in order to come up with the best mechanisms to solve them and help the people involved (Compton and Burt, 1994).
From the evaluation plan, the best approaches to solving particular problems can be derived. For instance, they can suggest counseling for people affected with AIDS or propose to provide food aid to victims of war or floods. The planning process is done in collaboration with relevant authorities such as the central government of state governments (Compton and Burt, 1994).
Social workers form relationships with their clients and also act as advisors, advocates, or counselors. They listen to clients and help to motivate their clients to live successfully within their communities by helping them to find solutions to their problems. Social workers work closely with institutions and organizations such as schools, police, and probation services to ensure that all people are treated with dignity (Compton and Burt, 1994). Hence, they can help a great deal in restoring the functionality of prisoners at the end of their jail terms and ensuring that the prisoners are treated in a humanitarian manner while in prison cells. Professional social workers also provide psychosocial assistance to victims of various disasters such as war, floods, famine, and so on (Compton and Burt, 1994).
In summary, social workers provide important services to the people while maintaining a valuable code of ethics regarding service delivery. Social workers encourage social impartiality and social revolution with and on behalf of clients. Social workers are responsive to cultural and ethnic diversity and strive to end prejudice, coercion, poverty, and other forms of social injustice.
Social workers also promote fairness in society by the organization, supervision, consultation, and administration of policies that protect the vulnerable people in society. By ensuring fairness in the distribution of resources, social workers ensure the prosperity of all humanity.
- Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) Code of Ethics 2005.
- Compton, Beulah Roberts, and Galaway Burt. Social Work Processes. New York: Brooks/Cole, 1994