Code of Ethics and Conduct for Members

This Code details the obligations and rights of Social Care Ireland members in relation to ethics and conduct.

Introduction

Social care is a broad profession with practitioners working with individuals, families and groups who are experiencing disadvantage, marginalisation or vulnerability. The primary goal of social care work is to contribute positively to the lives and experiences of such individuals, families and groups. This may involve advocating for and with, supporting, enabling and empowering individuals, families and groups. As such, social care work is underpinned by respect for the dignity and worth of every individual, the promotion of social justice and equality, honesty and integrity, and the recognition that human potential is most often realised within the interplay between the independence and interdependency of individuals, families, groups and, indeed, societies.

The main objective of Social Care Ireland is to ‘benefit the disadvantaged, marginalised and vulnerable through promoting the development of an
understanding of social care practice, education and management throughout Ireland, and to act as a representative and support organisation for members’ (SCI Constitution, Memorandum of Association, section 3). It is the values of social care, the principles of natural justice, and the main objective of Social Care Ireland that inform this Code.

Obligations and Rights of Social Care Ireland Members

Members of Social Care Ireland are obliged to engage with others in a manner that is open and honest and which reaffirms respect and dignity for the
intrinsic worth of all people. Members are also obliged to behave in a manner that maintains high ethical standards, the good name of Social Care Ireland and social care work, and that ensures that Social Care Ireland can meet its ethical, legal and statutory obligations.

Members of Social Care Ireland will act in the best interests of those who use their professional services. They will make themselves aware of new and
emerging laws, policies, procedures and regulations governing social care work.

Members of Social Care Ireland are obliged to continuously work to keep their professional knowledge up to date and regularly engage in Continuing
Professional Development, such as, inter alia, undertaking further education and training; research; attending/presenting at seminars/conferences.

Members of Social Care Ireland have the right to freedom of thought, speech and action, so long as these freedoms are exercised with due regard to the rights of others. In addition, members of Social Care Ireland have the right to enjoy the presumption of innocence and the principles of natural justice, namely to have a fair opportunity to input into decisions that may adversely affect them, to be treated without prejudice or bias in instances where a judgement is to be made, to procedural fairness, and to have any such judgements made on the grounds of evidence rather than speculation or suspicion.

Section 3.5 of the Social Care Ireland Constitution reaffirms these rights and members may be sanctioned or expelled by Resolution of the Directors
provided that he shall have been given notice of the intended resolution for his expulsion and shall have been afforded an opportunity of giving orally or in writing to the Directors any explanation or defence as he may think fit’ (Social Care Ireland Constitution, 3.5).

Procedures in the Case of an Allegation of Misconduct or Behaviour Unbefitting Member/s of Social Care Ireland

Allegations of misconduct or behaviour unbefitting a member may be made to the Chair of the Board of Directors.

Where the allegation is not considered vexatious1, Social Care Ireland shall

  • Provide to the member, in a timely fashion, all information in relation to the allegations, including relevant documentation.
  • Afford reasonable time for the member to consider those allegations.
  • Provide the member with the opportunity to reply to those allegations.
  • Provide the member the opportunity to have another individual present at any meeting to support him/her.
  • Provide the member the opportunity to call witnesses on their behalf and/or to provide relevant documentation.
  • Provide fair and impartial individuals to adjudicate on the case, including (but not limited to) three members of the Board of Directors.
  • Consider both the intent of the member and the context within which decisions were made and actions undertaken, as well as the consequences and outcomes.
  • Provide written confirmation of the decision of the adjudication panel and the reasons for it. Such decisions may include (but are not limited to) rejection of the complaint; oral caution; written caution; suspension; or expulsion.

1 Vexatious or malicious complaints by members are unbefitting of the behaviour expected of members and Social Care Ireland reserves the right to initiate misconduct proceedings against the complainant in such instances.