2.1 Describe dilemmas that may arise between the duty of care and an individual’s rights

2.1 Describe dilemmas that may arise between the duty of care and an individual’s rights

Duty of Care Answers

Care Learning

6 mins READ

This guide will help you answer The RQF Level 2 Diploma in Care Unit 2.1 Describe dilemmas that may arise between the duty of care and an individual’s rights.

In health and social care, we often face complex situations. It’s our duty to protect the well-being of individuals we care for. However, sometimes this responsibility clashes with their rights.

Balancing duty of care with individual rights isn’t easy. Let’s explore the dilemmas that may arise between these two crucial aspects.

Defining Duty of Care and Individual’s Rights

Duty of Care means we must act in the best interest of the individuals we support. This includes ensuring their safety and well-being at all times. It’s about taking necessary steps to prevent harm to them.

Individual’s Rights refer to the freedoms and entitlements every person has. This includes making their own choices, expressing themselves, and maintaining their autonomy.

Common Dilemmas

1. Autonomy vs. Safety

At times, individuals may wish to make choices that might seem unwise or unsafe to us. For example, a resident may want to go for a walk alone. While it’s their right to independence, it could pose a risk if they have mobility issues or dementia.

Mrs. Green, a care home resident, insists on walking outside by herself. Her carer, James, worries about her falling. James faces a dilemma between respecting Mrs. Green’s independence (her right) and ensuring she doesn’t harm herself (his duty).

2. Privacy vs. Protection

Maintaining an individual’s privacy can sometimes conflict with our responsibility to protect them. This often occurs in matters of personal care or when handling sensitive information.

Laura wants to manage her own medication. She has the right to privacy in her healthcare decisions. However, if she has a history of forgetting doses, there’s a risk to her health.

3. Freedom of Expression vs. Harmful Behaviour

Individuals have the right to express themselves freely. But what if their behaviour is harmful to others or themselves? Balancing respect for their freedom and the need to prevent harm can be challenging.

Tom, a young adult with mental health issues, exhibits aggressive behaviour. His right to express himself clashes with the carers’ duty to ensure the safety of other residents.

Real-life Situations

Case Study 1: Medication Management

Maria wants to store and take her own medication. She values her independence and dislikes the idea of carers administering it. However, Maria has a history of missing her doses, which has led to health complications in the past.

Allowing Maria to self-administer her medication respects her autonomy but poses health risks. To balance this, the care worker might set up a supervised medication plan that gives Maria some control while ensuring she takes her doses.

Case Study 2: Social Media Use

John, a resident in a care facility, enjoys using social media and wants to share photographs and updates about his day. However, he has poor judgment when it comes to online privacy and has posted sensitive information before.

John has the right to use social media and express himself online. Nonetheless, the care team has a duty to protect his personal information and prevent potential exploitation.

Potential Solutions

Promoting Communication and Consent

Ensuring individuals understand the risks involved in their choices is vital. Hold discussions where you explain the potential dangers. Seek their consent with clarity.

For Mrs. Green’s walks, discuss the risks and suggest compromises like walking with a buddy or using a mobility aid.

Risk Assessments

Conduct thorough risk assessments to understand the potential consequences of an individual’s choices. This helps in making informed decisions that respect their rights while maintaining safety.

Before allowing Laura to handle her own medication, assess the risks and develop strategies to mitigate them, like scheduled checks by carers.

Empowering Through Education

Educate individuals on safe practices without limiting their rights. This can include training sessions or providing resources.

For John’s social media use, offer guidance on online privacy and the hazards of sharing certain types of information.

Mediation and Compromise

Often, the best solution lies in finding a middle ground. Mediation can help balance the duty of care with respecting individual rights.

For Tom’s aggressive behaviour, involve a counsellor to mediate. Introduce structured activities that allow him to express himself safely.

Documentation and Policies

Maintain clear policies that outline how to handle such dilemmas. Documentation ensures accountability and provides a reference for best practices.

Develop a policy for managing residents’ social media use, clearly stating the support available and the responsibilities involved.

Examples answers for Unit 2.1 Describe dilemmas that may arise between the duty of care and an individual’s rights

Certainly! Below are example answers from the perspective of a care worker who is addressing the dilemmas that may arise between duty of care and an individual’s rights.

Example Answer 1: Autonomy vs. Safety

Mrs. Green, an elderly resident, wishes to go for a walk alone despite having mobility issues which increase her risk of falling.

“One of the most common dilemmas I encounter is balancing residents’ right to autonomy with my duty to ensure their safety. Recently, Mrs. Green expressed a strong desire to go for walks by herself. She values her independence and enjoys her time outdoors. However, given her mobility issues and the increased risk of falls, I am concerned for her safety.

To address this, I had a thoughtful conversation with Mrs. Green. I explained the potential risks involved and suggested alternatives that would still respect her desire for independence. One solution we arrived at was for her to walk with a buddy or use a walking aid when she goes outside. This way, she still enjoys her walks, but in a safer manner. We also agreed on specific routes that are less risky and keep her close to the facility in case she needs assistance. By finding a compromise, I was able to honor her rights while fulfilling my duty of care.”

Example Answer 2: Privacy vs. Protection

Laura wants to manage and self-administer her own medication, but she has a history of forgetting doses.

“A significant dilemma I face is respecting a resident’s privacy while ensuring their protection. For instance, Laura expressed a clear desire to handle her own medication, citing her right to privacy in her healthcare decisions. However, Laura has a history of forgetting her doses, which could lead to serious health risks.

In such situations, communication is key. I had a detailed discussion with Laura about the potential dangers of missing her medication doses. To respect her privacy while ensuring her safety, we agreed on a supervised medication plan. Laura keeps her medication in a secure, but accessible place, and I check in at set times to remind her and ensure she has taken her medication. This approach respects her autonomy and privacy, while also fulfilling my duty of care by preventing potential harm.”

Example Answer 3: Freedom of Expression vs. Harmful Behaviour

Tom, a resident with mental health issues, exhibits aggressive behaviour that can be harmful to others.

“A challenging dilemma is balancing an individual’s right to freedom of expression with the need to prevent harmful behaviour. Tom, a resident with mental health issues, tends to express himself aggressively, posing a risk to other residents.

In this situation, my primary goal is to safeguard both Tom and others around him. I arranged for mediation sessions involving Tom, a mental health counselor, and myself. These sessions aim to help Tom find safer ways to express his feelings and manage his aggression. Additionally, I introduced structured activities that allow Tom to channel his energy positively, like art therapy and guided physical exercises.

By providing safe outlets for his expression and involving mental health professionals in his care, I support Tom’s rights while ensuring the safety of the entire community. This balanced approach helps manage the complex dynamics of such dilemmas.”

Example Answer 4: Freedom of Movement vs. Security

Mr. Brown, a resident with mild dementia, wants to leave the care facility to visit local shops alone. There is a risk he may become disoriented or lost.

“I often encounter dilemmas involving an individual’s right to freedom of movement versus their security. Mr. Brown, who has mild dementia, enjoys visiting local shops independently. However, there’s a significant risk he could become disoriented or lost on his way.

To address this dilemma, I engaged in an open conversation with Mr. Brown and his family. I explained the risks and collaborated to find a solution that accommodates his desire for independence while ensuring his safety. One effective compromise was using a tracking device that Mr. Brown could wear. This device allows us to monitor his location and ensures we can assist him promptly if he gets lost. Additionally, I suggested he undertake his outings at designated times when staff or family members can be nearby without intruding on his autonomy.

This strategy respects Mr. Brown’s right to move freely while aligning with my duty to safeguard his well-being.”


Balancing duty of care with individual rights is a delicate task. It’s essential to respect the autonomy and preferences of the individuals we support while ensuring their safety and well-being.

By promoting communication, conducting risk assessments, educating, mediating, and having clear policies, we can better navigate these dilemmas.

Remember, the goal is to provide care that respects and empowers those we look after.

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