What is Ethics?

Ethics is about right and wrong and the reasons we give for our choices and actions. In ethics, we address the questions: “what ought we to do and why?” It involves a set of rules, principles, and values of a group of people. At ESS, we have adopted this Code of Ethics to guide our client care.

Ethical Client Care

Good client care requires ethical client care. Ethical care involves reflection and making ‘right’ choices and decisions in the delivery of care. It is not always clear what the ‘right’ decision is. In seeking answers to such decisions, the ESS Ethics Committee works with staff members, volunteers, clients, and family members to discuss and support ethical issues in care.

When to contact the ESS Ethics Committee?

Some examples of ethical issues that the ESS Ethics Committee can assist with are:

  • Informed consent.
  • Competence or capacity for decision making.
  • Confidentiality and privacy.
  • Choosing to live ‘at risk’.
  • Medical assistance in death.
  • Continuation or withdrawal of services.
  • Resource allocations and limitations and service delivery.

What Does the ESS Ethics Committee Do?

The ESS Ethics Committee is involved in:

  • Supporting ethics training and education for staff, volunteers, clients and families.
  • Policy and procedure development and reviews (as related to ethical issues).
  • Reviewing and recommending requests to participate in any research projects ensuring the highest ethical standards are met.
  • Consultation and client case reviews regarding specific ethical issues in providing care or services.
    • The purpose of consultations and case reviews is to identify and analyze ethical issues and to support decision-making.
    • A request for an ethics consult may be initiated by anyone who has an ethical concern about a particular situation (including clients and families).

The ESS Ethics Committee is not the moral police, the decision-makers, legal experts or the only people who ‘do’ ethics (everyone has a responsibility to act ethically).

Ethical Decision Making

Ethical decision making is:

  • Deciding what we should do.
  • Explaining why we should do it.
  • Describing how we should do it.

When approaching an ethical issue, ESS uses the IDEA Decision Making Framework as a step-by-step tool to help resolve ethical issues.

The IDEA Decision Making Framework can be used:

  • By staff, volunteers, clients and family members on their own when faced with an ethical dilemma.
  • During formal and informal consultations and client case reviews.
  • For information sharing and educational purposes.

ESS is a member of the Community Ethics Network.