Assessment 2: Case Study Analysis (45%)
The assessment will require you to analyze one of six given case studies that feature an ethical dilemma for a community service worker in a professional context. The case study will require you to:
PART 2A - Oral presentation (15%)
Case study one
You work as a case worker in a drop-in women’s centre. Your client Jenny (aged 28) has been using the service to access food and other welfare services. You are aware that Jenny is married and has a 6-year old son. Over the last few weeks, you have noticed that Jenny has become increasingly quiet while accessing services. One day, you notice that Jenny has brought her son to the women’s centre. When you sit and try to talk to Jenny, you notice that she does not introduce her son to you. He appears to be quiet, withdrawn and does not make any eye contact with you. You also notice several severe bruises on her son’s arms and legs, which Jenny says is due to rough play with other children in school. Jenny discloses that they are in financial difficulty at the moment but hope that situation will change when her husband finds a job soon. You also become aware that her husband lost his job due to significant drug use. What should you do?
Case study two
You work as a youth worker in residential centre. Your client George (aged 18) has mental health and substance addiction issues. You have formed good working relationship with George and he has been very honest with you. Over the last few weeks, you notice that George is increasingly been paranoid of both staff and other clients of the residential centre. Whenever George interacts with them, he accuses them of persecuting him and withdraws into his room. In a session, George discloses to you that he has plans to take revenge on your colleagues and other clients of the centre. When you explore this further, George discloses that he has not been taking his medications and he has been hearing strong voices all the time. He requests you to keep the information confidential. What would you do?
Case study three
Kristina is a client with a community housing organisation who has been supported by her case worker John. She and John are of similar ages, and through conversations they have in their professional interactions; it seems that Kristina and John share several interests including similar taste in food.
John is able to find an independent community accommodation for Kristina and is soon she is no longer a client of the community housing organisation.
A few weeks later, Kristina visits John in his office. During that a meeting, Kristina mentions that she has also found work in an entertainment company. In her work she receives many free expensive vouchers to restaurants. She invites John as a date to an upcoming opening of a new restaurant because she remembered John taste in food. She states that as she is no longer a client of the organisation, them seeing each other socially or casually should not be a problem. What should John do?
Case study four
You work as a youth case worker in a Youth Refuge. Cleo, a 16 year old Aboriginal youth, who has experienced significant family loss and displacement has come to your organisation for refuge.
During your interactions, you notice Cleo is very intelligent, talented and skilled. You encourage his skills and work with him providing ongoing case support. After working together for well over a year, Cleo is able to join an apprentice program and a distant relative has taken Cleo under his wing.
A few months after his departure from the refugee, Cleo visits you and thanks you for your support as a case worker during his time in the refuge and hands over small wood carving which he sculpted as a gift. What should you do?
Case Study five
You work as a case worker in a local community mental health service. For the past six months, you have been helping your client Maree in supporting her with her mental health issues. You have arranged counselling and specialist care for Maree. You are also aware that Maree recently left her spouse due to domestic violence, moved into independent accommodation and launched divorce proceedings against her partner.
You receive a subpoena to provide case records of your engagement with Maree and provide a testimony to the court in relation to the divorce proceedings. You are asked to disclose information about your professional interactions with Maree. When you discuss the subpoena with Maree, she asks you to keep the information confidential and not to disclose anything to the court. What do you do?
Case study six
You work for an organisation which provides support services to clients under NDIS. Jack, a 26 year old client for the last six years has run out of his NDIS funding for the year. Jack a talented painter, offers to paint the interior of your house for free provided you find him some additional funding through other organizations. Your house interior is in desperate need for a new paint and Jack assures you that he will keep it a secret. What would you do?
PART 2B – Written Report (30%):
Word Count: 1700-2000 words
You must complete a written report on your chosen case study, fulfilling the specific requirements outlined on page 13.
Use APA 7 referencing. Your written report should include at least 8 peer reviewed (scholarly) journal articles in addition to any textbook references. The format of your essay will be discussed in greater detail during tutorials.
PART 2B- WRITTEN REPORT
CASE STUDY 1
The social service sector in Australia has its foundation in the early 1900s; it was probably one of the earliest nations to recognize social services as a profession. Since then, it has made advanced progress in improving service standards, and several bodies were established to guide the entire system (Week 1 Journal). The Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) is considered one of the most important institutions in this regard (AASW, 2021). Case Management is one of the elements that form the core of the social service sector. It involves assessing, planning, implementing, monitoring, and reviewing the plans designed to engage with the clients (Reilly et al. 2010). Case workers or social workers are responsible for upholding the practice standards while delivering the services to the clients and are guided by the principles of case management (Kalliath et al. 2012). This report aims to discuss and assess Case Study one (Jenny) based on case management principles. While finding the solutions for the case study, some ethical dilemmas will be dealt with, keeping into consideration the practice standards and eventually, a decision will be reached out that will suit the client's needs and ensure service delivery optimally. I will also discuss the two possible outcomes of the decision taken, that will have an impact on Jenny and her son’s future life.
Overview and Analysis of the Case Study
As per the case study, I am a case worker in a drop-in women's centre. Drop-in centres are the places where the services to the vulnerable section of people are provided with either for free or charged minimally. I have a client named Jenny, who is aged 28 and has a son. As per the information available, it is known that her husband has lost her job recently, and the possible reason is his significant drug usage. When Jenny visited the centre to access food and other services, her son came along with her. Jenny did not introduce her son to me, who has some bruises on his hands. Even his son did not look at me, and it seemed he was lost in some other world. After sharing few words with Jenny, she disclosed the financial difficulty her family faced and how things might improve once her husband finds a suitable job.
The moment I looked at her son, having bruises marks and not behaving like a happy and energetic children, I felt uneasiness. I got the urge to intervene and investigate the actual situation. The child goes to school and might have got hurt, which is quite normal for children of his age. However, I am still not convinced that the injuries were due to his rough play. I am somehow connecting his injuries to his father's significant drug use and the family's financial crisis. There are possible chances that Jenny's husband might have hit the child in an unconscious situation. We have learned that some factors are established under the children's vulnerability, like at-risk behaviours, safety, and security. In such a scenario, if the child is at risk of harm by her father, if we believe that his injuries are due to his father's substance use, the results can be devastating in the short-term and long term. Children are sensitive, and if they are exposed to such cruelties, they might not be able to get over them, even when they grow up as adults (Frederico et al. 2008). However, the fact that Jenny did not bother introducing her son to me is also putting up questions in my mind. A mother would always protect her child from possible harms. If my suspicion on her husband hitting their child is correct, then she is covering the cruel act committed by her husband, even in the unconscious situation. There might be chances of her trying to cope with the case, hoping that things might improve when her husband gets a job.
The discussion and analysis of the case study put an ethical dilemma in front of me. Ethical dilemma is a situation where the person finds it difficult to make an informed decision (Mattison, 2000). After analyzing the case study, I am of the opinion that due to significant drug use, Jenny's husband might have hit their son in an unconscious state. However, the lack of substantial information from Jenny's end prevents me from intervening in the matter. Being a case worker, I need to make an informed decision that is well within the guiding principles and professional standards of practice (Week 5 Journal).
On the one hand, I believe Jenny's son suffered bruises due to his father's violent act; Jenny's husband. As per the 1994 Case Management Principles, I must follow the duty of care and empower the client (Rapp & Goscha, 2004). Woodside and McClam (2011) mention the contemporary themes; establishing a supportive relationship with the client and helping them out with the issues they face. Also, while learning about difficult clients, we came across various attitudes that clients hold. It seems that Jenny is not able to make the needed decision (Week 3 Journal). As she discussed that her family is dealing with a financial crisis as her husband lost her job due to significant drug usage; she is opportunistic that once her husband starts working again, things will be good.
However, the fact that Jenny did not reveal anything from her own and pretended as if things are normal except for financial crisis, I feel restricted to intervene in the matter and come out with a solution to the problem; that the family is facing. Moreover, case management's guiding principles also pitch the need to define the boundaries while engaging with the clients (Week 3).
Decision Making and Possible Outcomes
After facing an ethical dilemma, I have decided that I will intervene in the matter and investigate to ensure that both Jenny and her son are safe at home. I would not be able to forgive myself if I do not take note of it and something awful happens later. Being a case worker, it is my responsibility to ensure my clients are safe. The Professional Responsibilities and Practice Standards mention some critical aspects like Empowerment. It means that an individual must be empowered to gain control over his life (Robbins & Birmingham, 2005). In the current scenario, both Jenny and her son need empowerment, and thus, I would make every attempt to ensure they are in a position to protect them from any abuse. The standard ‘protection of human rights and freedom from abuse’ also requires the social workers to ensure, different kinds of abuses are prevented (Week 3 Journal). My first action would be to meet Jenny at a place where she is free to talk to me. I will follow the intake process under which the engagement must be conducted in such a manner that the client is offered a welcoming environment. Next comes the communication part. The properties of a good conversation include intimacy, interactivity, inclusion and intentionality (Nobel, 2012). I would take all of them into consideration and communicate with Jenny about her situation. I would calmly ask her if she has any issues with her husband or his significant drug usage is causing any harm to her or her son. I might come across a situation where Jenny turns out to be a difficult client and does not make a needed decision, standing against the wrong if her husband is responsible for abusing their son (bruises marks on his hand). She might tend to withdrawal if I stress too much on her distress condition. In that case, I will have to be cautious and adopt a balanced approach. Being case workers, we have to ensure there is a boundary while communicating with the clients (Week 3 Journal). I will keep calm and cooperate with her by agreeing with what she says. However, I would communicate about her son’s condition and inform her that generally, children behave in such a socially disadvantaged manner. I would stress that the child may be vulnerable and thus does not like to get along with people. Without using a direct reference to her husband, I will convey that the child is suffering some vulnerability with her that may be at school. I will make every attempt to ensure that I investigate the situation and come out with some data that can help me resolve the issues faced by Jenny and her son. As case workers, we need to ensure that there is a duty of care in all sorts of services (Week 2 Journal).
The possible outcomes of the decision that I have made will vary as per the situation. One possible outcome is that Jenny’s husband did abuse their son when he was unconscious. It is expected that Jenny would break down and share all her miseries with me. As stated in the case study, she does talk to me about her husband and the financial crisis faced by her family; she might share how her husband lost his senses and beat their son, which caused him bruises marks on his hand. In that case, firstly, I will have to ensure optimum care for Jenny and her son by coordinating with my seniors. We will take special care of the child, as he might have gone through the worst and has become quiet. Secondly, I will ensure that Jenny’s husband is treated well for his significant drug usage. The second possible outcome is that Jenny’s husband did not abuse their son, and he really got injured at school, as stated by Jenny when she met me at the centre. This outcome will give me a sense of peace that, at least, the child did not suffer any abuse at his father’s hand. My attempt in such a case would be to know more about Jenny’s child and learn why he does behave differently or what made him feel dull when he came along with her. If the child were suffering at school, my approach to dealing with it would be different by coordinating with my seniors and school authorities. I will ensure that the child does not suffer any vulnerability at home or at school.
While concluding, I would say that this assignment has helped me in realising how a social worker or care worker would react if caught in such a situation; where the truth is unknown. The case study did not specify the end situation and asked for an intervention from me being a case worker. I was faced with an ethical dilemma where it was hard for me to decide the right or wrong approach. Reaching up directly to Jenny would have diluted my responsibility to respect the boundaries that we have with our clients, and not intervene in the situation would have been even worse; not helping the client if they are suffering and unable to share them. I then decided to intervene and balance the situation by not directly blaming her husband and enquiring about her son. Thus, I came across the two best possible outcomes of my intervention that will not just help Jenny and her son but I will also ensure duty of care in the service provided to her. The weekly journals' reference helped me greatly in learning about various aspects and, thus, preparing this assignment.