Case study 1
Mrs Halah is 58 years old and lives alone in a small unit. She has smoked for 35 years and has been diagnosed with advanced emphysema. She has tubes providing oxygen directly through her nostrils at all times and has an oxygen tank on a trolley if she needs to move more than a couple of metres. Mrs Halah cannot walk more than 10–12 steps without getting breathless, and has difficulty with tasks of daily living, such as washing or dressing, without assistance. She is overweight and this is contributing to her problems. However, she enjoys her sweet biscuits and understands the risk of putting on more weight.
Mrs Halah has been told she cannot attend a planned activity group in her local area because the staff running the group feel that, as she does not speak a lot of English, she will not be able to join in.
Support workers from the Commonwealth Home Support Programme assist Mrs Halah every morning to get up, washed and dressed, and to get ready for bed each night. They also prepare some of her meals. She has meals delivered five days a week and home help for cleaning, laundry and shopping. She spends most days sitting in a chair watching television.
Even though it is not written on her individualised plan, the support workers also like to help Mrs Halah out by walking her dog once a week.
The support workers keep a copy of her individualised support plan on the fridge, so that it can be easily accessed. They write into the plan each day about what they have done, as part of their reporting requirements.
A new support worker, Joy, who commences working with Mrs Halah is upset that she is allowed to continue eating sweet biscuits for morning tea, given that she is overweight. Joy feels she has a duty of care to her client, and acting in her best interests, refuses to allow her to have the biscuits, replacing them with a cut up apple every morning instead.
Mrs Halah tells Joy that life is not worth living anymore. She has been saving up some of the sleeping pills her doctor has given her and plans to take them. She asks Joy not to tell anyone about this.
Identify which of Mrs Halah’s human rights are not being respected, and explain why this goes against the legal requirements of the organisation.
What example of discrimination can you identify? Is this organisation following its legal requirements in this example?
What are Joy’s responsibilities regarding keeping the information Mrs Halah has told her about the sleeping tablets confidential, given that Mrs Halah has asked her not to tell anyone?
What policy would the organisation be likely to have about storing the individualised plan and writing daily file notes, and do you think this is being complied with?
Does mandatory reporting apply to any of the situations described in the case study? Explain your response
What do you think about Joy’s approach to her duty of care in withholding the sweet biscuits? What is the term used to describe Mrs Halah’s right to choice in this situation?
What work role boundaries have been crossed by the support workers, and what could be the consequences for working outside of their limitations?