Main Principles of Implementing Duty of Care in Health and Social Care

Last Updated: 21 Mar 2023
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Duty of care is a legal obligation for each individual in the health and social care setting that requires them to adhere to a standard of reasonable care. Ensuring they don’t put their service users or themselves in any danger.

In the workplace there are policies and procedures, agreed standards, codes of practice and other legislation a care worker should follow.

In a care workers job role, you would be responsible for making sure the service users’ needs are met to the best of your ability making sure the service user does not come to any harm and also making sure they are involved in their care plan. Promoting services user’s choice and rights to the best of your ability. You would be responsible for assessing possible risks.

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You must remain professional throughout your role making sure you are ad-hearing to confidentiality, keeping up to date and accurate records of the care you have or are providing to service users.

If you are not sure about any part of your work you or have concerns then you must speak to the manager straight away to make sure that no mistakes are made.

Duty of care is central to all that you do at work, it is not something extra.

How the Duty of Care Contributes to the Safeguarding or Protection of Individuals?

Duty of care contributes to the safeguarding or protection of individuals by keeping individuals safe whether it is illness, abuse, harm or injury. We can do this by involving families, health care professionals and other external agencies into the individuals care plan.

Duty of care is a legal requirement and there are policies, procedures, code of conduct and legislation around safeguarding and protecting your service users. Following these guidelines is showing that we are providing the best care possible.

If you are doing activities with service user you should always do risk assessments making sure that the service user is aware of any risks also.

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Potential Conflicts or Dilemmas that may Arise Between the Duty of Care and an Individual’s Rights

Potential conflicts or dilemma’s between the duty of care and individual rights is about enabling service users rights to do what they want to do but making them aware of risks and the harm to others. You cannot stop the service user from making a choice. We all take risks in everyday life, for example, walking across the road.

When there are concerns about and service user’s capacity to understand the risks and consequences of their actions there is an “Incapacity Test” to assess the capacity. If the service user does not have the capacity then it is down to the people caring for the service user to make decisions. It is easy to assume that a service user does not have the capacity to make decisions based on their disabilities.

A potential conflict or dilemma that may arise is if a service user wishes to smoke. The service user has the right to smoke and for an area to be set up for them to smoke but you can also make them aware of the risks involved or harm to others that can be caused.

Another conflict or dilemma which may arise is if a mental health patient is refusing to take medication. The patient has the right to refuse to take medication but as a care worker, your duty of care is to try and explain the risks and harm that can be caused by the patient not taking their medication. You can seek help from other professionals i.e. Psychologist, GP, Mental health nurse, Family members (as they may listen to the family more than professionals because they may feel that professionals are trying to harm them.).

When dealing with dilemmas or conflicts it helps to seek advice and guidance from other people such as colleagues, manager, service users family members, and other professionals connected with the individual.

How to manage risks associated with conflicts or dilemmas between an individual’s rights and duty of care?

You can carry out a risk assessment that involves the service user so they fully understand the risk/s they are taking. If the service user still wishes to take the risk then you have to try and make it as safe as possible for them to do so, by doing this you are meeting your obligation to provide the duty of care. Update care plans and paperwork to show that you have explained the risks to the service user.

Where to get additional support and advice about conflicts and dilemmas?

There are many different ways to receive extra support to help with dilemmas and conflicts. You can ask colleagues as they might have had to deal with a similar situation or may have other ways to help. Line manager as they are more experienced, other professionals working with your service user i.e. doctor, social services, schools or colleges, counselling service who may know how to. You are never alone in making a decision where there are conflicts or dilemmas.

How to respond to complaints?

  • Explain to the service using the procedure for making a complaint.
  • Listen to what the individual is saying without interruption and assure the client that you are interested in their concern.
  • Reassure the person that you are willing to do something about their complaint and are glad that they have brought it to your attention.
  • Never make excuses, get angry or blame other staff.
  • Provide the service user with information and advice on how you are going to deal with the complaint and in what timescales. Making written details of this also.
  • Report the complaint to your line manager and reflect on the complaint to improve your professional development.

The main points of agreed procedures for handling complaints

There are two ways to make a complaint verbal and non-verbal. If a complaint is made verbally you should usually deal with this complaint straight away unless you are unable to do so, at this point you would ask your line manager or another colleague for help to deal with the complaint.

If someone makes a non-verbal complaint there is usually a procedure in place to respond to the complaint within a certain timescale usually 2-3 days. Usually, the manager will respond to this type of complaint. However, it is important to find out what went wrong and how this is usually done in a meeting with the complainant and the investigating manager. The next phase would be about putting the complaint right and making sure that they do not occur again. When complaints are handled in this way it is referred to as local Resolution.

If the complainant is not satisfied with how the complaint has been resolved they can complain to the Local Government Ombudsman to be investigated further. Complainants can also complain to the care quality commission.

As a care worker, you will be given a policy and procedure on how to handle complaints this is usually in your code of practice.

Related Questions

on Main Principles of Implementing Duty of Care in Health and Social Care

What is meant by duty of care?
Duty of care is a legal obligation to act in a certain way to ensure the safety and well-being of others. It requires individuals and organizations to take reasonable steps to protect people from harm or injury. Duty of care is an important concept in the law of negligence, which is the basis for most personal injury claims.
How does the duty of care contribute to the safeguarding or protection of individuals?
The duty of care is a legal obligation to ensure that individuals are protected from harm or abuse. It requires that professionals take reasonable steps to protect individuals from harm or abuse, and to ensure that their rights and safety are respected. This helps to ensure that individuals are kept safe and their rights are respected.
What are the roles of a carer?
The roles of a carer can vary depending on the individual they are caring for, but generally they involve providing physical, emotional, and practical support. This can include helping with daily activities such as bathing, dressing, and meal preparation, as well as providing companionship and emotional support. Carers may also be responsible for managing medications, arranging appointments, and providing transportation.
What is duty of care social care Scotland?
Duty of care in social care Scotland is the responsibility of care providers to ensure that the people they are caring for are safe and well looked after. This includes providing a safe environment, ensuring that the person's rights are respected, and providing appropriate care and support.

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Main Principles of Implementing Duty of Care in Health and Social Care. (2016, Aug 28). Retrieved from

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