The experience of a social worker while ensuring patients’ rights in mental health care

Alina Petrauskienė, Romena Skrickaitė

Abstract


In the present article, the experience of a social worker in the field of mental health care is analyzed. The object of the present research is the experience of a social worker (contradictions, strengths, limitations) while ensuring patients’ rights in mental health care. The aim of the research is to highlight the characteristics of a social worker’s experience while ensuring the rights of persons under treatment in mental health care institutions. The authors address such questions as: how social workers understand the guarantee of patients’ rights in mental health care, what kind of contradictions, strengths and limitations exist in a social worker’s practice in terms of the guarantee of client rights and what the characteristics of social workers’ and patients’ interaction are.
For the collection of data, the interview method was used. Six social workers working in mental health care institutions participated in the research. Respondent selection criteria: high professional education in social work; no less than three years of experience in social work; direct offering of social services to persons (adult group) under treatment in mental health care institutions.
As the results of the research show, social workers perceive the guarantee of patients’ rights as compliance with the rules of their professional behaviour, ethics and law, but while implementing it in practice they experience both personal and inter-professional conflicts, hesitation and loss of determination. Inner contradictions are related to a client’s right to get ‘hundred per cent’ information and the consequences of its provision–receiving for the further development of the quality of life of a patient; interprofessional contradictions are related to the professional status and the lack of power in representing patient rights in a mental health care specialists’ team.
The research allowed indicating the main strengths of a social worker, which include the recognition of patient/client rights’ limitation or the need of violation control, as well as the limits: the lack of professional courage and self-reliance and the lack of experience in indicating the problem issues regarding the guarantee of patients’ rights and in their collegial analysis.

Keywords


mental health care; guarantee of patients rights; social worker

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"Social Work" ISSN online 2029-2775 / ISSN print 1648-4789