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Ostravská univerzita

Social Work Values and Ethics in Europe

Prof. Dr. Brian Littlechild

Social work is a profession not only because of its knowledge base and methods derived from theory and research, but also because as a profession it has a value and ethics base which is critical to the management and practice of social work.

Certain European countries have social work as a registered profession, which means that professional social workers must abide by the Code of Practice, or possibly be disciplined. Nearly all have a professional association which has codes which social workers are expected to comply with.

In order to provide a social work service, agencies, their managers and professional staff need to be able to clearly set out their ethical value base, and ERIS provides consultancy services in order for agencies to be able to make sure that ethics and values are considered properly within the different areas of management and practice of their agency. The institute provides knowledge, advice and services for agencies to be able to carry out audits of how far ethics and values are taken into account in their agency procedures, managerial practice, and professional practice and whether the requirement to continually improve services founded upon such an ethics and values base is leading to improved practice and services.

Taking as its foundation the ethical value base as stated by professional associations in the country in which the consultancy is undertaken, and also if required by the agency referring to the International Federation of Social Workers/International Association Schools of Social Work Code of  published in 2007, the consultancy can enhance the agency’s understanding and application of ethical practice. Such ethical practice includes such issues as updating on current research in the social workers’ area of practice, areas of management, monitoring and support of social work practice, and application of issues of risk assessment and risk management.

Professor Brian Littlechild of the University of Hertfordshire teaches courses at Bachelor’s and Master’s levels, and runs seminars for agencies on the understanding and application of ethics and values in practice. He is the chairman of the United Kingdom’s social work professional association the Code of Standards and Ethics committee. He has published book chapters and articles in refereed journals on the application of social work ethics and values in practice. As publications editor for the International Association Schools of Social Work, he organized the publication of the new 2007 Codes of Ethics referred to above. He has also edited a book by a German social worker based on a research study comparing the application of Codes of ethics in Germany and the United Kingdom.

He is currently undertaking research in the United Kingdom on how social workers understand and implement their Codes of Practice.

Updated: 29. 03. 2017

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