OALibJ  Vol.8 No.8 , August 2021
A Brief Analysis of the Ethical Dilemma Encountered in the Elderly Social Work and Thinking—Taking Jinhua City G Social Work Agency as an Example
Abstract: This study takes the perspective of ethics and values as the entry point to explore the ethical dilemma of social work in the implementation process of social work service projects for the elderly due to various reasons. By studying the moral dilemmas in the process of project implementation, this paper tried to analyze the causes of these moral dilemmas and the impact of these moral dilemmas, find out the countermeasures to solve the moral dilemmas, help the follow-up activities more smoothly, and provide better solutions for social workers who encounter the same moral dilemmas.

1. Introduction

From the perspective of ethics and values, this study explores the ethical dilemmas of social work in the implementation process of social work service projects for the elderly due to various reasons. This paper is about the author’s practice experience, using the method of literature and participation observation, the author as a social worker practice fully involved, the field participation and observation of all the process of project implementation, consulting relevant literature, the profound reflection on himself in to participate in the project implementation of ethical dilemmas encountered, causing thinking and researching [1] .

2. Basic Information of the Organization

Founded in 2019, G Social Work Agency is a professional social work service agency approved by the Ministry of Civil Affairs. The organization consists of several social work professionals dedicated to the research and service of social work. Adhering to the tenet of “helping people to help themselves, and using their lives to influence their lives”, the organization tries its best to help vulnerable groups with its professional knowledge of social work. The agency currently mainly serves the elderly and cancer patients, up to now, we have served about 200 elderly people and about 80 cancer patients. The organization has been around for a while and now has six social workers and 50 volunteers.

3. Project Services

“Joy Moves Without Care” Community Post-epidemic Activation Project for the Elderly is to serve the elderly in Honghu Road Community and surrounding communities [2] . This project is a public welfare venture capital project of Wucheng District of Jinhua City in 2020. It is sponsored by the Civil Affairs Bureau of Wucheng District of Jinhua City and undertaken by Jinhua G social work agency. In 2020, due to the outbreak of the epidemic, the rhythm of life of many people will be disrupted. The project aims to help the elderly in the community to alleviate the sequela of the epidemic and adjust their rhythm of life. Through the combination of “point, line and surface”, it will promote the physical and mental health of the empty-nesters and promote community governance. The forms of service mainly include case work, group work and community work. The services include spiritual consolation, psychological counseling, rights and interests protection, safety lectures and recreational activities.

Honghu Road community and the surrounding communities belong to the old community, there are many old people, special old people and so on. The project will be carried out for one year from October 2020 to October 2021 for Honghu Road Community in Wucheng District. Before the activity, the project team went deep into the Honghu Road community in March and April 2020 through interviews, community visits and observation, etc., to contact the elderly in the community who live in empty nests and live alone. Four research activities were carried out successively, and a total of 50 interviews were conducted to assess the needs of the elderly in the community. Planed for the elderly in the epidemic times my life river, epidemic times my network, health knowledge lectures, smart phone learning, health care finger exercises, basic disease prevention and treatment, first aid knowledge, handmade and tea party group activities [3] . In addition, combined with the traditional festivals and the basic characteristics of the elderly, we have organized the Double Ninth Festival garden party, New Year party and other large-scale characteristic activities for the elderly. Social workers carry out case counseling activities for some elderly people in need by going into the community and actively contacting the elderly. Adhering to the professional concept of “helping people to help themselves” in social work, the project focuses on tapping the potential of the elderly, training community leaders and driving the vitality of the community.

4. Ethical Dilemmas in Project Service

Social workers in carrying out the practice will always encounter a variety of ethical dilemmas in the process, the author mainly adopts participation observation, will be encountered in the process of internship of ethical dilemmas and ethical issues encountered by carefully, in order to promote activities smoothly play a little help in the future, also for other similar problems of institutions providing a little inspiration [4] .

1) The ethical dilemma arising from the confusion between professional and personal relations

People are the people in the scene, and they play a variety of roles, and the corresponding relationship between people is also complex and diverse. In social work, there is only one and only one relationship between social workers and service objects, that is, the professional relationship in which social workers provide professional services to service objects. There is no other inappropriate relationship between the two. Only by adhering to this concept can social workers better solve problems. However, this principle is not feasible in mainland China, especially for the elderly, it is difficult to distinguish social workers from volunteers. Social work is introduced from abroad, at present in mainland China also belongs to a relatively new professional, a lot of people don’t know much about the social work profession, especially the old people, they think that social workers and volunteers is to help us, is a good man, and can’t distinguish social work is a profession, is the job of the social workers to help vulnerable groups, Is typical of human society in our country, the old people feel accepted others help to give some rewards, so social workers while leading sports easily torn in dilemma, for example, encountered in the work service object to keep social workers at home have a meal, bring a small gift for social workers, etc. The good intentions of those who refuse service will be regarded as indifferent and indifferent, and the good intentions of those who accept service will easily confuse the professional relationship with the personal relationship, thus causing the ethical dilemma.

2) The ethical dilemma of cultivating community leaders

Social work with the attitude towards the service object of equality, acceptance, adopts advantages perspective, explore potential of service object, social workers in the service to provide the service object, adhere to the value neutrality, equal to treat every service object, intention is committed to the growth of the service object, to help the service object digging their own potential, Try to let every service object have equal opportunity to participate in the activity, but this is often difficult to achieve in the practical practice of social work. The institution where the author works pays great attention to the cultivation of community leaders. In the activities, some active elderly people will have more opportunities to show themselves consciously. However, after several activities, other service objects will regard community leaders as authority figures. In red lake road community, for example, the old people are very like singing, so the usual activities and cater to the old man’s interests will also increase in singing, part of the old man is a member of the elderly choir before, there is an old man led the team before, when the social worker in singing link let the old people take turns to lead singer, some people would pass before the microphone fronting the old man, Take the old man as the authority old man, dare not try oneself. Social workers treat all the clients equally and expect everyone to have an equal opportunity to participate. However, the elders will take the community leaders as their authority, while others are afraid to speak up and show their opinions. Faced with such ethical dilemmas, social workers sometimes don’t know how to deal with them.

5. The Impact of Ethical Dilemma in Project Service

1) Social work professional relationship is difficult to maintain

The premise for social workers to provide relevant services to their clients is that they need to establish a relatively stable professional relationship with mutual trust. In the society of acquaintances “relationship”, human relationship is a key to the success of things, as a result, a social worker from providing services to the service object will always face the problem of human, one is the service object of the social work profession itself has no cognitive, 2 it is affected by the local environment, always feel good is mutual, can’t owe human feelings, social workers to help them, They also have to give something back, and if the social worker doesn’t accept the kindness, it’s a loss of face, it’s a loss of respect, it’s a failure to treat the social worker as one of their own. For example, in the Honghu Road community, some of the service objects follow the principles of “human kindness” and “acquaintances society”, and will invite social workers to have meals at home and bring some small gifts to social workers. At this point, the social worker to social work values refused the invitation of the service object and refuse to accept the small gift, such as the service object will feel “social worker does not put me as their own” “social workers are not willing to help me to solve difficult” and so on, in this way, the service object will feel like an outsider, slowly trust can reduce the social workers, The next time I see a social worker, I will be more polite. I dare not directly trouble the social worker for something, and I will not respond strongly to the enthusiasm of the social worker. Moreover, the follow-up plans that the social worker makes to solve the problems for the service objects can not be well implemented. In the face of such a dilemma, one side is “human society”, the other side is social work ethics, poorly handled will lead to the service object’s trust in social workers decreased, affect the maintenance of professional relationships.

2) Decreased professional identity of social workers

The sense of professional identity of social work is to have positive and positive feelings towards the profession, and to internalize the values and professional ethics of social work into their own norms of behavior in dealing with people and applying them to social work activities. However, in the process of project implementation, social workers do not have some good methods to deal with ethical dilemmas, and do not have a correct guidance, which can easily weaken social workers’ sense of identity and enthusiasm for social work. Social work values for win-win, for example, use the scientific method to help disadvantaged groups, in institutions in the elderly group activities those introverted, dare not to speak of the service object is the most vulnerable groups, but social workers in dealing with these problems often encountered an ethical dilemma, also have no a good solution, the disadvantaged community leader not only as the authority, Only by daring to express themselves and truly participating in the group can they help others and help themselves.

3) Occupational burnout of social workers

In the helping industry of social work, it is very important to have the passion for the profession and the feelings of helping others and helping themselves. However, in specific projects, front-line social workers often face some dilemmas which cannot be solved in time, for example, as mentioned before, human relations, community leaders and so on, these problems can not be solved in time, so they tend to have a negative mood towards the profession. In the comparison between the activities carried out in the later period and the earlier period, it is obvious that social workers are not as enthusiastic as they were at the beginning of the project implementation. When they carry out activities for service objects, they are only limited to completing tasks.

6. Countermeasures and Suggestions for Ethical Dilemma in the Process of Project Implementation

1) Pay attention to the needs of service objects

Before social workers get involved, they should first conduct precise research and analysis on the needs of the service objects, closely follow the needs of the service objects and modify the activity planning in time based on the satisfaction of the service objects. As the recipients, the needs of the service objects are the core concern of the whole activity. As a service provider, social workers should pay attention to the needs of the service objects and solve the problems they face, which is also the responsibility of social workers. If the demand of the social work service object in the first place, the ethical problem in the process of contact with the service object, also will be more understanding of the service object behavior, first of all thank you for the service object and introduce the ethical principles of social work, social work is a profession, to provide the service is the responsibility of social work, ethical dilemmas will be easier to solve.

2) Pay attention to professional values of social workers

Social work is a specialty of value orientation, social work knowledge is value-based knowledge, and social workers are people who are full of value. Professional values of social work guide the practice of social work and serve as the practice standard for social workers to practice. If social workers do not have a deep understanding of professional values and do not learn enough, they are likely to be confused in the face of ethical dilemmas and make mistakes, thus harming the service objects. Therefore, social workers must fully internalize professional values in order to better deal with ethical problems encountered in practical activities.

3) Formulate ethical principles suitable for local social workers

The implementation of the project will encounter different ethical dilemmas, which will inevitably need to be solved by ethical principles suitable for China’s local. Relevant departments can base on Chinese traditional culture, draw lessons from western ethical codes and norms of social work, and combine with the practical experience of local social workers in China to form local ethical principles of social work with Chinese characteristics.

Ethical dilemma is an inevitable problem in social work. In order to make the development of social work more professional and efficient, a problem that social workers must pay attention to is to put the needs of service objects first, fully internalize the professional values of social work, and comply with the ethical principles of local social work.

Cite this paper: Zhang, Y.Q., Tang, Y. and Xue, L.X. (2021) A Brief Analysis of the Ethical Dilemma Encountered in the Elderly Social Work and Thinking—Taking Jinhua City G Social Work Agency as an Example. Open Access Library Journal, 8, 1-6. doi: 10.4236/oalib.1107573.

[1]   Liu, S.J. (2017) Ethical Dilemma and Countermeasures of Institutional Elderly Service. Shenyang Normal University, Shenyang.

[2]   Zhang, Z.Q. (2017) Ethical Dilemmas of Social Work for the Elderly. Legal Review, 13, 296.

[3]   Feng, W.X. (2019) Research on the Ethical Dilemma of Social Work. Journal of Liao- ning Radio and TV University, 24, 10-13.

[4]   Liu, J.F. (2019) Research on the Ethical Dilemma in the Implementation of Social Work Projects for the Elderly in Rural Areas. Jiangxi Normal University, Nanchang.