Duty of care is an essential aspect of healthcare and social care, and it is the responsibility of professionals to take reasonable steps to protect service users from harm. This means providing services with due care and attention, ensuring that any risks are minimised, and being aware of the rights and dignity of service users at all times.
When a professional fails to exercise their duty of care, the outcome can damage all parties involved, including service users and organisations. That’s why it is so important for health and social care professionals to ensure they remain vigilant when delivering services, and adhere to their duty of care when dealing with vulnerable individuals. By exercising the utmost care and respect in all duties related to health and social care, we can ensure that we are protecting the welfare of service users, as well as our own.
The duty of care unit is included in the Health and Social Diploma at Level 2 and 3.
1.1 Define the term ‘duty of care’
Duty of care is a term used to define the moral or legal obligation of an individual or organisation to ensure the safety and well-being of others. It is a concept that has been recognised in law for centuries, and it holds us accountable for exercising reasonable care when interacting with or providing services to others. This includes being mindful of risks, acting within our levels of competence and expertise, making sure we are not causing harm to any individuals, and always acting in their best interests. In essence, it requires us to act responsibly and with due diligence.
1.2 Describe how duty of care relates to duty of candour
Duty of Care is the legal obligation for care providers to ensure that the people in their care have a safe, secure, and comfortable environment. Care providers must act in a way that ensures the safety and well-being of those in their care, as defined by applicable law and professional guidelines.
Duty of Candour is also critical to ensuring safe and effective care. This involves healthcare professionals being open and honest with patients in the event of any unintended harm. Healthcare professionals should provide accurate information promptly and openly, including an explanation of what happened and how it will be addressed. Transparency and accountability are key components of providing quality care, especially when something goes wrong.
1.3 Describe how the duty of care affects own work role
As a care worker, it is your responsibility to ensure that the individuals you are caring for are always receiving the best quality of care. This includes being aware of any unsafe practices and reporting them immediately according to your organisation’s established ways of working. You must also not take on tasks beyond your scope of competency or qualifications, as this could lead to accidental harm. All company policies and procedures should be followed at all times, and all equipment should be used for its intended purpose. Finally, it is important to be mindful of your actions, inactions, and behaviour, and to justify them if asked.
2.1 Describe dilemmas that may arise between the duty of care and an individual’s rights
Dilemmas often arise between an individual’s rights and the duty of care. For example, when caring for an individual who is obese and overeating, it’s difficult to balance the dual goals of respecting their right to make their own decisions while also looking out for their best interests by encouraging healthier food choices. In other cases, such as with individuals who exhibit dangerous behaviour or have mental health issues, it’s difficult to uphold their right to decide while still protecting them from potential risks.
An individual’s rights take precedence over a duty of care, except where they have been mentally assessed and deemed unable to make their own decisions, or if they are subject to a deprivation of liberty safeguard. In these situations, best practice is to consult legal advice and base decisions on the latest research and evidence about how best to provide care without compromising an individual’s rights.
2.2 Explain where to get additional support and advice about how to resolve such dilemmas
Care workers face a range of difficult dilemmas in their daily work, from ethical questions to complex legal issues. To ensure that these challenges are addressed with the best possible outcomes, it is important for care workers to connect to additional support and advice. You can seek support and advice from senior employees, such as your manager or supervisor.
Organisations such as the UK’s National Care Forum provide access to resources, such as codes of ethics, guidance for handling professional disputes, and information about employment law. National charities such as Social Care Institute for Excellence provide detailed guidelines on best working practices.
Care workers should also explore local services and support networks provided by their region or county councils, which often include access to specific advice and live help lines, as well as training programmes aimed at developing an understanding of relevant laws and regulations.
A successful resolution to problem-solving scenarios depends on having timely access to reliable expert advice. By connecting to the right support networks and sources of information, care workers can make sure they have the knowledge and resources needed to confidently handle any challenge they may face.
3.1 Describe the process to follow when responding to complaints
Care workers responding to complaints should be sensitive, professional and approachable. The first step is to listen closely in order to fully understand the complaint before responding.
It is important to respond to each individual complaint with respect and understanding. Responding quickly and appropriately can help maintain relationships between workers and those they are caring for. Accurately recording details of the complaint can also help rectify any issues.
Following a complaint, care workers should provide an appropriate solution that meets the needs of all parties concerned. This may involve resolving the issue, providing further guidance or training, or escalating it if necessary.
Workers must ensure that their actions are under organisational policies and procedures. Finally, care workers should follow up regularly to ensure that the issue has been resolved adequately.
3.2 Identify the main points of agreed procedures for handling complaints
It is important to ensure that complaints from residents, their loved ones or staff members are handled proactively and professionally. To ensure optimal outcomes from each complaint scenario, here are the main points of agreed procedures:
- Listen actively and with empathy to the complainant. Acknowledge feelings of frustration or dissatisfaction, even if you cannot answer the grievance at the time.
- Show respect for all parties involved and be patient. Avoid getting into any arguments or disagreements.
- Try to ascertain all the facts and gather relevant information. Ask questions and take notes while remaining objective and open-minded.
- Find a suitable resolution and attempt to defuse any potential conflict. Suggest potential solutions and involve all parties during the process.
- Resolve any misunderstandings or miscommunications before taking appropriate action. Communicate clearly and respectfully throughout the entire process.
- Document all steps taken as part of the complaint procedure, including details of any decisions made, to use as reference material later on.
- Finally, follow up with the complainant(s) to ensure they are satisfied with the outcome.