Extract from the Ethical Framework

50. We will take responsibility for how we offer our clients opportunities to work towards their desired outcomes and the safety of the services we provide or have responsibility for overseeing.

51. We will discuss with clients how best to work towards their desired outcomes and any known risks involved in the work.

52. We will ensure candour by being open and honest about anything going wrong and promptly inform our clients of anything in our work that places clients at risk of harm, or has caused them harm, whether or not the client(s) affected are aware of what has occurred by:

a. taking immediate action to prevent or limit any harm
b. repairing any harm caused, so far as possible
c. offering an apology when this is appropriate
d. notifying and discussing with our supervisor and/or manager what has occurred
e. investigating and take action to avoid whatever has gone wrong being repeated

53. We will consider carefully in supervision how we work with clients – see 60–73.

54. We will monitor how clients experience our work together and the effects of the work with them in ways appropriate to the type of service being offered.


What if a client is so concerned to get on with resolving their problems that they are not interested in discussing how we will work together?

Putting a client first means we should take into account their wishes about how we work with them, but we can’t force this discussion on them. If a client is reluctant to engage with this, then we have to watch out for their best interests as part of the work we are undertaking. But we should look for opportunities to re-engage them in discussions about how we work together.

Why is an obligation of candour included in the Ethical Framework?

An obligation of candour is the logical consequence of putting clients first. This creates a higher expectation that we work proactively to protect them from harm, particularly when we know something has gone wrong. It is our responsibility to put things right as best as we can, but also to inform the client at the earliest opportunity so that they are in the best position to protect themselves.

How does the duty of candour work with children and young people who may not have the capacity to consent themselves?

Where children and young people don’t have capacity to give consent, or to understand the consequences of what has gone wrong, then we need to engage with someone with parental responsibilities. Or, if that’s not appropriate, with someone who can act in their best interests. So duty of candour still applies, but it may need to be worked through with someone else.

How should monitoring be undertaken? Must it always be in writing, perhaps using questionnaires, or can it be discussed less formally with clients?

Monitoring can take place in many different ways. What really matters ethically is that we are attentive to how the client experiences our work, so it's finding the best way of achieving this. In some services, formal questionnaires are an appropriate way of gathering knowledge of clients' experiences individually and collectively. In other situations, monitoring may be no more than an open question which gives clients the opportunity to express their views in a way that feels safe. What’s not acceptable is to carry on in ignorance of how a client is experiencing a service, or to override the wishes of a client about how they would like to receive their service, without some clear justification for doing so.