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Working with patients and the public

The Scottish Executive has recommended a number of codes of conduct for working in healthcare, whether in healthcare settings such as hospitals or in the local community or participants’ homes. These codes of conduct can provide a helpful guide for those involved in the delivery of arts in health interventions.

They include:

  • 1. Accountability—those delivering arts in health projects must ensure that their actions can be justified with sound reasons. Making a note of important conversations with participants can be a way of monitoring activities, especially when there is more than one person involved in a project for whom handover notes could be of value
  • 2. Awareness—people involved in the delivery of interventions should be honest about what they can and cannot do, seeking help for things that are beyond their area of expertise
  • 3. Integrity—those delivering interventions should always do what is right to protect participants, doing their best to ensure that anything they do does not harm participants’ mental or physical health, or delay their recovery
  • 4. Advocacy—in delivering interventions, workshop leaders and project managers should promote and protect the interests of participants, putting participants’ needs first and acknowledging participants’ equality and diversity
  • 5. Sensitivity—those delivering arts in health projects should respect participants’ feelings and emotions, always being polite and considering situations from participants’ perspectives
  • 6. Objectivity—all participants should be treated the same way. Personal feelings should not get in the way of delivering an arts intervention. Activities undertaken should reflect participants’ needs, whatever their race, sex, sexuality, age, disability, or religious belief. Those delivering arts in health projects should also maintain professional relationships with participants
  • 7. Consideration and respect—participants should always be treated with dignity, and thoughtfulness should be shown for participants’ feelings and needs, protecting them if they are unnecessarily exposed to an embarrassing situation
  • 8. Consent—workshop leaders should work in partnership with participants, explaining what activities are going to be undertaken and confirming they are happy to be involved. Chapter 12 explores consent in more detail as part of ethical responsibilities in research
  • 9. Confidentiality—participants’ privacy should be respected and confidential information requested or accessed only when absolutely necessary. This is explored more in the next section ‘Patient confidentiality’
  • 10. Cooperation—workshop leaders should strive to work effectively with colleagues as part of team, working to meet the shared goals of the project
  • 11. Protection—participants and colleagues should not be made at risk of harm. This is explored more later in this chapter
  • 12. Development—workshop leaders should look for ways to increase their knowledge and skills, such as through attending training sessions and refreshing knowledge of essential information
  • 13. Alertness—workshop leaders should observe participants and report any important observations to an appropriate person to safeguard the best interests of participants

/'"N The Scottish Executive ‘Code of conduct for healthcare support workers’, which contains further details on working with patients and the public, can be accessed via the website www.healthworkerstandards.scot.nhs.uk.

In addition to certain recommended codes of conduct, there are also regulations that may need to be followed. For example, depending on the participant group and the setting of the project, it may be necessary for people involved to undergo police checks or criminal record checks. Although rules vary between countries, these are generally compulsory for work with children or adolescents, or work with vulnerable adults. Clarification will also need to be sought from the organizations involved as to whether checks are required for people shadowing a session or taking on any supervisory role. In addition to these checks, there may be other reference checks and mandatory training before an individual can commence working in a healthcare setting or delivering a project working with vulnerable people. It is important that all of these necessary checks are completed prior to a project starting, and that the time required for these checks to be undertaken and any associated costs are factored into project design.

For more information on criminal record checks, individual countries host their own webpages, such as www.gov.uk/disclosure-barring-service-check/overview for the UK.

 
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