Treating people who use services with dignity and respect

Issue 4 – Fitness to practise newsletter for social service workers and employers

FtP workers and employers enewsWhat do we mean by dignity and respect?

People who use social services place their trust and confidence in social service workers and expect to be protected. This applies to every part of the social service workforce and in all social service settings.

Social service workers should always treat people who use services in the way they would want to be treated themselves.

When someone is not treated with dignity and/or respect it can cause distress and upset and have an emotional impact on them and their families. It can also lead to an SSSC fitness to practise investigation.

Some common issues that we have investigated are:

  • physical mistreatment of a person by inappropriate moving and handling, rough positioning and inappropriate restraint
  • making inappropriate comments and using intimidating or threatening language
  • failure to provide care when required or requested
  • not allowing a person the right to make choices and respecting those choices.

SSSC Codes of Practice

Each case is different and because of this different parts of the SSSC Code of Practice for Social Service Workers can be broken. However, our investigations about dignity and respect have shown some common themes with the following Codes:

1.1 treating each person as an individual

1.4 respecting and maintaining the dignity and privacy of service users

1.6 respecting diversity and different cultures and values

3.1 promoting the independence of service users and assisting them to understand and exercise their rights

3.8 recognising and using responsibly the power that comes from your work with service users and carers

5.1 abuse, neglect or harm service users, carers or colleagues.

Examples and the outcomes of cases about dignity and respect

We have selected some past fitness to practise cases that highlight failure to treat people with dignity and respect. Some decisions are made by SSSC officers with the consent of the registrant and others are made after a hearing.

We hope these examples will help you to understand how a worker’s behaviour can have an impact on the faith the public has in social services and the concern that it can raise, and that they help you improve your practice.

Case 1: Supervisor in a care home service for adults who failed to provide an acceptable level of care, poor verbal communication and multiple practice issues.

Case 2: Supervisor in a housing support service and a care at home service who displayed challenging behaviour and inappropriate verbal communication towards a service user.

Case 3: Practitioner in a day care of children service who roughly handled a child and used inappropriate verbal communication.

Case 4: Supervisor in a care home service for adults who used inappropriate verbal communication and unacceptable practice towards service users.

Case 5: Practitioner in a day care of children service who roughly handled a child and used inappropriate verbal communication.

Read our other fitness to practise newsletters

An introduction to fitness to practise for social service workers
An introduction to fitness to practise for employers
Issues around administration of medication
Why is how social service workers behave outside of work important?

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