CARP’s Code of Ethics is based on the fundamental aspects of caring, which include the respect for the dignity and autonomy of persons, responsible caring for the best interests of persons, integrity in professional relationships, and responsibility to society.
“The new Code of Ethics is aspirational in striving for the best and inspirational in the belief that the best can be achieved,” says Jean Pettifor, Ph.D., Past President of the Canadian Psychological Association, and Adjunct Professor at the University of Calgary. Dr. Pettifor was the facilitator for the initial review process to determine the need for a revised or new Code of Ethics, and was principally responsible for drafting the new document.
“A Code of Ethics that is aspirational,” says Dr. Pettifor, “promotes and encourages respect for individuals and assists professionals to think about doing what is in the best interests of their clients. This differs from mandatory or prescriptive codes, which focus on promoting or protecting public welfare by specifying ethical behaviour expected of a profession and may serve as the basis for processing complaints through legislative authority.” CARP does not have the legislative authority to enforce compliance, but it does have authority to suspend membership and registration for what it deems as inappropriate behaviour.
Dr. Pettifor contends that disciplinary committees have an important role in investigating complaints of misconduct and imposing sanctions against a small number of erring practitioners. However, disciplining professionals is no substitute for individual practitioners’ accepting responsibility to maintain competent and ethical services on a daily basis.
The code promotes and recognizes that each professional brings their own life experience and personal skills to the rehabilitation process and to their role in ensuring that the process is facilitative and collaborative. Other codes for professionals working in the helping field are not as clearly focused on these themes.
Early in 2001, the CARP National Board appointed an Ad Hoc Committee on Ethics to review whether the Code of Ethics that was in place reflected the ethical needs of a diverse, interdisciplinary membership and its diversity of practice.
“The consensus of the committee, following discussion and investigation,” says Susan Cran, chair of the committee, “was a recommendation that Canadian rehabilitation professionals required a code that reflected Canadian practice and the views that consumers’ total well-being and quality of life in the community are as important as achieving vocational and financial independence. We needed a code that would define the multi-disciplinary professions represented by the association and assist rehabilitation professionals in serving the needs of persons with a disability or disadvantage.”
The Ad Hoc Committee, comprising CARP members from across Canada, responded to the challenge of developing a code that reflects their multi-disciplinary nature. Codes of professional ethics identify those moral principles and standards of behaviour that professions, institutions and organizations believe will assist them in distinguishing between right and wrong and ultimately in making good moral judgments.
CARP members as well as other professional associations and partners were consulted throughout the various stages of development. Ms. Cran views the ratified code as an agreement among members regarding what constitutes ethical conduct. “This is a living document,” she acknowledges,” that will be reviewed on an ongoing basis as members adapt it in their day-to-day practice.”
One of the features of the ratified code is the inclusion of guidelines or ethical decision-making steps, which assists members in the process of choosing the action that is most consistent with the ethical principles. “Ethical decision making based on moral values is especially important when working with persons who have traditionally been under-valued,” stresses Dr. Pettifor.
Future development and supports for CARP members include an educational companion manual or handbook, which will assist members in applying the code in their daily practice, on-line educational sessions, guidelines to support the rights of the consumer of rehabilitation services to include definitions of the services provided by a rehabilitation professional, the distribution of a large wall poster highlighting the four ethical principles and the ethical decision-making steps, and a Code of Conduct, which will translate ethical principles into enforceable behavioural standards.
The First Edition of the Code of Ethics was dedicated to Dr. Pettifor “for her extraordinary contribution to the field of rehabilitation.”
(CARP is a national, member-focused association that supports the interdisciplinary nature of the rehabilitation field and supports professionals by providing a national infrastructure that unites members practising a specialization within the rehabilitation continuum. A copy of the Code of Ethics may be obtained by visiting the CARP National website at www.carpnational.org or by contacting the national office at (416) 494-4700 or toll free at 1-888-876-9992.)