Topic 22: Addressing Ethical Concerns

Introduction: Navigating Ethical Challenges

In the field of medication assistance, support workers frequently encounter situations that pose ethical dilemmas. These challenges require a nuanced understanding of ethical principles, particularly when they intersect with practical care. Exploring these dilemmas and developing strategies for ethical decision-making are essential for providing holistic and respectful care.

Terminology Definitions

  1. Autonomy: This principle refers to the right of clients to make their own decisions about their healthcare, including medication choices. It recognizes the clients’ capacity to understand their treatment options and make informed choices based on their values and preferences.
  2. Confidentiality: The ethical and legal duty to keep client information private, sharing it only with other authorized personnel or as permitted by the client. This principle is vital for maintaining trust and ensuring that personal health information is protected.

Q and As on Ethical Concerns

  1. Q: What should a support worker do if they disagree with a client’s medication choice?
    A: The support worker should:
    • Respect the client’s autonomy, recognizing their right to make decisions about their own healthcare.
    • Ensure the client is fully informed about the risks, benefits, and possible alternatives to their chosen medication. This involves providing clear, accurate, and unbiased information.
    • Encourage open dialogue, allowing the client to express their concerns and reasons for their choice.
    • Suggest a consultation with a healthcare provider if there are significant concerns about the client’s choice, ensuring that professional advice is part of the decision-making process.

Scenario-Based Example: Balancing Autonomy and Health Needs

Scenario: A client, Mrs. Anderson, has decided to refuse a new medication prescribed for her chronic condition. As her support worker, you are concerned about the potential impact on her health.

How to Approach the Situation:

  1. Understand Mrs. Anderson’s Reasons:
    • Engage in a conversation with Mrs. Anderson to understand her reasons for refusing the medication. Listen actively and empathetically to her concerns.
  2. Provide Information:
    • Clearly explain the potential benefits and risks of taking and not taking the medication. Ensure that the information is understandable and respects her level of health literacy.
  3. Explore Alternatives:
    • Discuss possible alternatives or adjustments that might make the medication more acceptable to her. For instance, if side effects are a concern, explore whether there are other medications with a lower risk.
  4. Consult with Healthcare Providers:
    • Suggest or facilitate a discussion with her healthcare provider to address her concerns and explore options.
  5. Document and Report:
    • Document the conversation, her decision, and any actions taken. Ensure that relevant healthcare professionals are informed of her decision.
  6. Respect and Support:
    • Ultimately, respect her decision, even if it’s against medical advice. Provide continued support and monitor her condition, ready to assist if she changes her mind or if her health status changes.

Concluding Remarks on Ethical Concerns

Addressing ethical concerns in medication assistance demands a balance between respecting client autonomy and ensuring their health and well-being. Support workers need to navigate these dilemmas with sensitivity, keeping open communication channels, and always prioritizing the clients’ informed choices and rights. By doing so, they uphold the ethical standards of their profession while providing compassionate and client-centered care.