Health and Social Care

Ethics, values and anti-oppressive practice

The intention of this chapter is to focus on the ethics and values which are central to personalisation and the impact for service users, carers and front line social work practitioners. Personalisation has a multi-layered framework of political, financial and cultural contexts which will be explored initially, in order to understand contemporary practice in adult social care more clearly and to identify the drivers which influence personalisation. First it is important to clarify what we mean by values. Values are essentially a set of beliefs, ideas and assumptions that individuals and groups hold about themselves and their society. Ethical values indicate whether an action is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. Social work values and ethics are professional values enshrined within the professional code of practice and are centred on the importance of respecting the rights and needs of service users and carers and the importance of anti-oppressive practice. Personal values are those held by individuals and may be shared or kept as private and confidential. Personal and professional values may conflict or compete with each other and different people may prioritise different values, which can create the tensions and challenges within social work practice. We will now briefly explore the broader framework of personalisation, as it is essential to recognise that personalisation is a concept spreading far beyond the remit of social work and can be seen as a ‘whole system change’ for health and social care. The socio-political context driving the personalisation agenda emerged as a strong force under the Conservative government in the 1980s from the principles of the postwar welfare state and the arrival of care management and a dispersal of state controlled provision. The purchaser/provider mixed economy of care became a feature of the 1990 NHS and Community Care Act and encouraged a shift from the statutory to the private and...