Our Ethical Code
AIVuk members carry out professional activities. AIVuk members have obligations to clients, to contractors, to one another and to colleagues in other disciplines. In order to discharge these obligations they should be afforded certain complementary rights.
AIVuk is the professional association for AIVuk members in the United Kingdom. It has a duty to ensure as far as possible that its members discharge their ethical obligations and are afforded the professional rights which are necessary for the safeguarding and promotion of the rights of clients.
The primary objective of the Association's Code of Ethics is to express the values and principles which are integral to the work and to give guidance on ethical practice. The Code is binding on all members, and the Association also hopes that it will commend itself to all contractors of AIVuk members.
AIVuk members are committed to basic values:
- Human dignity and worth
- Social justice
- Service to humanity
Their practice promotes respect for human dignity and social justice, through giving good service and offering integrity and competence.
AIVuk members agree to:
- place clients' needs and interests before their own beliefs, aims, views and advantage, and not to use professional relationships to gain personal, material or financial advantage;
- ensure that their private conduct does not compromise the fulfilment of professional responsibilities, and to avoid behaviour which contravenes professional principles and standards or which damages their integrity;
- be honest and accurate about their qualifications, competence, experience, achievements and affiliations;
- be clear when making public statements whether they are speaking as private individuals or as representatives of AIVuk
- set and enforce explicit and appropriate professional boundaries to minimise the risk of conflict, exploitation or harm in all relationships with current or former clients.
- avoid any behaviour which may violate professional boundaries, result in unintentional harm or damage the professional relationship;
- Not to engage in any form of intimate or sexual conduct with current clients
- Not to enter into an intimate or sexual relationship with a former client without careful consideration of any potential for exploitation, taking advice as appropriate.
AIVuk members have a duty to:
- identify, develop, use and disseminate knowledge, theory and skill for their practice
- maintain and expand their competence in order to provide quality service and accountable practice, appraising new approaches and methodologies in order to extend their expertise
- use available supervision or consultation and engage in continuous professional development, taking active steps where necessary to secure appropriate supervision
- reflect on the nature and source of health and social welfare problems and on ways of addressing them
- facilitate and contribute to evaluation and research
- contribute to the education and training of colleagues, sharing knowledge and practice wisdom;
- contribute to the development and implementation of human welfare policies and programmes;
- contribute to promoting culturally appropriate practice and culturally sensitive services
- recognise the limits of their competence and advise contractors and clients when referral to a more appropriate professional is indicated;
- provide clients with information about the benefits and implications of multi-professional working and about their rights in relation to the sharing of information, and, subject to their consent, work to promote their wellbeing by sharing responsibility with other relevant professionals;
- take appropriate action if ill-health or any other factor is likely to interfere with their professional judgement or performance of duty.
AIVuk members recognise that the client may be an individual, a family or other group or a community.
AIVuk members will:
- Give priority to maintaining the best interests of clients, with due regard to the interests of others;
- In exceptional circumstances where the priority of the client's interest is outweighed by the need to protect others or by legal requirements, make clients aware that their interests may be overridden;
- Seek to safeguard and promote the rights and interests of clients whenever possible;
- Endeavour to ensure clients' maximum participation in decisions about their lives when impairment or ill-health require the AIVuk member or another person to act on their behalf;
- Not reject clients, even when obliged to protect themselves or others against them or to acknowledge their inability to help them.
AIVuk members will be alert to the possibility of any conflict of interest which may affect their ability to exercise professional discretion or bias their judgement. If such a conflict arises, they will declare it and take appropriate action to ensure the professional relationship is not prejudiced. They will help individuals, families, groups and communities to explore the options for resolving or balancing conflicting or competing needs and interests.
AIVuk members will help clients to reach informed decisions about their lives and promote their autonomy, provided that this does not conflict with their safety or with the rights of others.
AIVuk members will not act without the informed consent of clients, unless required by law to protect that person or another from risk of serious harm. Where clients' capacity to give informed consent is restricted or absent, AIVuk members will as far as possible ascertain and respect their preferences and wishes and maintain their freedom of decision and action, whether or not another person has powers to make decisions on the client's behalf. Where the law vests the power of consent in respect of a child in the parent or guardian, this in no way diminishes the AIVuk member’s duty to ascertain and respect the child's wishes and feelings, giving due weight to the child's maturity and understanding.
AIVuk members will:
- Acknowledge the significance of culture in their practice, will recognise the diversity within and among cultures and will recognise the impact of their own ethnic and cultural identity;
- Obtain a working knowledge and understanding of clients' ethnic and cultural affiliations and identities, and of the values, beliefs and customs normally associated with them, recognising that the client's own values and beliefs may differ;
- Communicate with users, other than in exceptional circumstances, in a language and by means which they understand, using an independent, qualified interpreter where appropriate.
AIVuk members will:
- Respect clients' rights to a relationship of trust, to privacy, reliability and confidentiality and to the responsible use of information obtained from or about them;
- Observe the principle that information given for one purpose may not be used for a different purpose without the permission of the informant;
- Consult clients about their preferences in respect of the use of information relating to them;
- Divulge confidential information only with the consent of the client or informant, except where there is clear evidence of serious risk to the client, worker, other persons or the community, or in other circumstances judged exceptional on the basis of professional consideration and consultation, limiting any such breach of confidence to the needs of the situation at the time;
- Ensure, so far as it is in their power, that records, whether manual or electronic, are stored securely, are protected from unauthorised access, and are not transferred, manually or electronically, to locations where access may not be satisfactorily controlled;
- Record information impartially and accurately, recording only relevant matters and specifying the source of information.
The sharing of records across agencies and professions is subject to ethical requirements in respect of privacy and confidentiality. Clients have a right of access to all information recorded about them, subject only to the preservation of other persons' rights to privacy and confidentiality.
AIVuk members will in both their private and their professional life avoid any behaviour likely to damage the public image of the Association or bring the Association into disrepute.
In applying the general provisions of the Code, AIVuk members engaged in education, training, supervision or evaluation will observe the following specific ethical responsibilities:
- Possess and maintain the requisite knowledge, skill and methodology.
- Maintain professional relationships in their work which are constructive and non-exploitative.
- Foster in students and supervisees a knowledge and understanding this Code, emphasising the relevance of this knowledge to their practice.
- Inform students of their ethical responsibilities to agencies, supervisors and clients.
- Take all reasonable steps to ensure students and AIVuk members under their supervision act in accordance with the principles of this Code.
- Adhere to the principles of privacy and confidentiality in the supervisory relationship.
- Evaluate the performance of students and supervisees fairly and responsibly.
- Recognise that the supervisor's role is educational, supportive, developmental and work-focused.
AIVuk members, being in independent practice, will observe the following specific ethical responsibilities.
- To practise only within their areas of competence and offer suitable referral when clients' needs fall outside them.
- To arrange, or offer to arrange, appropriate temporary or substitute service for clients when unavailable or unable to continue practice.
- To maintain practice records in accordance with the requirements of this Code.
- To maintain adequate professional indemnity and public liability insurance cover as appropriate, to protect clients.
- To advise clients of all fee rates and charges before beginning to provide professional service, and to charge only for hours and services contracted and provided.