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Understanding values and behaviours

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We all have values and beliefs that shape the way we think and interact with others. These are influenced by factors such as how we are brought up, our culture, faith, education and the media.

Everyone is entitled to their own values and beliefs but social care work promotes a professional set of values that underpin the way we work and provide care and support to individuals and families.

Social care values are demonstrated by the way staff behave towards the people they care for (and other professionals). We refer to those as ‘behaviours’.

We can think of values as being both personal and professional. Personal values describe ways of thinking and behaving that we have learnt throughout our life. Professional values describe the ways of thinking and behaving that are accepted as best practice in social care.

There are different ways of expressing the professional values of social care, but broadly, they can be described as respecting and promoting:

  • Choice
  • Dignity
  • Inclusion
  • Independence
  • Privacy and confidentiality of information
  • Individuality and identity.

Let’s look at each of these values and consider how a social care worker’s behaviour can reflect these values.

Choice

You make choices every day – for example, about what to wear or what to eat. Imagine how you might feel if someone made those choices for you. You might disagree with the choice someone makes but in most cases they have the right to make that choice. A great social care worker listens to the individual and helps them to make their own decisions about how they live their life.

Dignity

Everyone should be treated with dignity. Social care workers often help with very personal care and need to ensure they do not treat a person in such a way as to embarrass or distress them.

Inclusion

Social care workers talk about ‘inclusive practice’. This means they do not discriminate against an individual because of their heritage, sexuality, age etc. A great social care worker ensures that people are treated fairly and that reasonable adjustments are made to ensure they can participate in the activity of their choice. It’s important to be aware of your own prejudices and try to avoid an unconscious bias that means you put barriers in the way of a person being treated fairly.

Independence

People should be encouraged to be as independent as possible. Social care workers try not to do things for people – rather they do things with people.

Privacy and confidentiality of information

Social care workers learn a lot about the people they care for. It is important to understand that the information you have is confidential and should not be shared outside of the workplace. It might be necessary to share some information with other professionals but in most cases the individual has to give their permission for their confidential details to be shared.

Individuality and identity

We all have our likes, dislikes and preferences. A great social care worker understands this and respects the individuality of everyone they care for and the special things that make them unique. In the next step we are going to learn more about a way of working called ‘person-centred practice’.

Social care workers need to be:

  • Compassionate – they need to care about the individuals as well as caring for them
  • Courageous – they need to be able to challenge others on behalf of the individual if necessary
  • Committed to the work and be reliable
  • Competent at the work they are asked to perform
  • Good listeners who can speak and communicate in a way that the individuals they care for can understand.

Something to consider…

Think about these values and behaviours.

Do they match your own ways of thinking and behaving? How might you feel about caring for someone with very different values to your own? Or someone who challenged your values?

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