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17th May 2016

Value Based Principles

Do you know your organisation’s mission statement of values? I’m sure they’ve got one, perhaps you were involved in writing it. I’m asking that because I’ve been asking students on a mental health course the same question, to see if those values are ones that they adopt in their work, and whether it has an effect on their decision making.

Sticking to your principles

First of all what I mean by value statements are those words and phrases that sum up the principles by which we live and work. As individual workers we’ve got our own values that hopefully we try and stick to at all times. They may be our own personal values, inherited from our families or maybe ones we have developed through our own life experiences. They may be values gained through professional training. So these might be things like wanting to do the best for people we work with, treating people like we would want to be treated, and being conscientious about our work. How do these compare to the value statements of our organisation? Here you might find statements such as to deliver a high quality service or to ensure that each service user’s needs and values are respected. There’s nothing wrong with those! The difficulty arises if the organisation advertises these and doesn’t meet these bold aims. Sometimes they are difficult to measure, and sometimes there are competing factors such as the resources of the organisation that means they are not achieved. If these aims aren’t met then workers in the organisations, and service users and families can become quite cynical and start thinking these are just words without real meaning or commitment.

Advertising your values

We’ve got value based statements in the Mental Health Act Code of Practice as well- are mental health workers able to say they are meeting them in all their interventions? You see going back to our own individual values we tend not to wear them as a badge. We know what they are and we try and live and work by them. When mission statements are attached to care home walls everyone can see them and check they are being followed.

Value based statements are only any good if we can we show we are sticking to them, and where we aren’t then we need to be honest about it. Ideally value statements shouldn’t be just a copy of the latest buzz words in the field of social and health care – they should come with real meaning, and ideally from genuine consultation with staff and users of the service.

David Beckingham – QCS Expert Mental Health Contributor

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