Explore the legal framework within which health and social care practitioners operate

Unit 1: Law, Policy and Ethical Practice in Health and Social Care

Unit code T/616/1636
Unit type Core
Unit level 4
Credit value 15

Introduction
Health and social care practitioners are regulated by, and must adhere to, a range of law and policy when working within the most common settings of health trusts, primary care and other public authority settings. Even those working in voluntary, non-profit and private organisations will require a sound understanding of law and policy in order to practice proficiently, safely, ethically and legally. This unit develops students’ knowledge and appreciation of the need for them to be thoroughly informed about relevant law and policy. Further to this, the unit presents opportunities for students to apply relevant law and policy in practice settings, both actual and realistic, and to consider the place of codes of practice and ethics in their day-to-day work.

The Learning Outcomes in this unit build progressively from core underpinning legal principles and perspectives to national and international law on key topics such as rights and equality, and subject-specific law and policy, within health and care practice. Students will investigate the legal and policy framework related to health and care practice in different settings, leading to opportunities to demonstrate their knowledge and skills through targeted assignments.

Students will evaluate the relative weight of, for example, statute law, case law, codes of practice and organisational policy, and will develop an understanding of how to access advice and guidance if unclear about a path to follow. Students will consider how legal and ethical frameworks are interpreted and applied to different settings within the community, hospitals and other areas of health and care.

Students will apply this learning to explore the relevance of statute, case law, codes of practice and organisational policy to their own and others’ practice. The knowledge and skills developed in this unit will support students in understanding how and when to access advice and guidance on legal issues relating to health, care and support service practice and provision. On completion of this
unit, students will have acquired a good working knowledge of the way that legislation supports the development of policy and underpins ethical practice in health and care settings. This will support progression in employment and continuing higher education in areas related to health and social care.

Learning Outcomes
By the end of this unit students will be able to:

  1. Explore the legal framework within which health and social care practitioners operate
  2. Describe key legislation, national and organisational policy of fundamental importance to the health, care or support service practitioner
  3. Interpret the law in relation to key ethical and professional Practice Themes in health and social care
  4. Apply law and policy in line with regulatory and ethical requirements in a relevant practice setting.

Essential Content

LO1 Explore the legal framework within which health and social care practitioners operate

Key political concepts and theories that impact on legal frameworks
Creation of law through statute – how a bill becomes law
Law of precedent – historical perspectives
Brief history of the reform of law
Taking in to account changes as a result of:
demography, e.g. migration patterns technology, e.g. advent of digital technologies in record-keeping values and rights, e.g. women’s right to vote, female genital mutilation national emergencies, e.g. emerging diseases and conditions.

Legal framework

The role of the legislature (Parliaments and Assemblies), Executive (e.g. Cabinet Government, Local Authorities and Health and Social Care Trusts) and the judiciary (courts and tribunals)
Introduction to case law and the role of the courts Differences between civil law and criminal law Legal responsibility and liability, e.g. vicarious liability and negligence Tutors should deliver with reference to the legal framework as currently applicable in own home nation Ethics and ethical practice Relationship of ethics to law Conduct and consent generally Regulatory and Professional Bodies’ Standards of Conduct, Performance, Ethics and Occupational Proficiency, International Occupational Standards and Codes of Ethics

Key features of, and differences between legislation, statutory guidance, codes of practice, and national and organisational policy
Enforceability
Ease of reading and application
Relevance to health and social care practice
Currency
Process to amend and update
Country-specific examples of each of the above

LO2 Describe key legislation, national and organisational policy of fundamental importance to the health, care or support service practitioner

Introduction to key legislation (at the time of publication):
Health and Safety
Safeguarding and/or Protection
Equality and human rights
Structure and function of health and social care
National policies
Health, social care and community support policies situated on the country-specific government policy page
Procedure for determining national policy
Effects, enforcement and sanctions of national policy
Organisational policies
Organisational policy usually located on public domain website of relevant
health, care or support service provider
Principles of organisational policy development, subordination to national
policy and law, subject to judicial supervision, principles of natural justice, etc.
Examples of common organisational policies, equality, confidentiality, health and safety, conduct, lone working, disciplinary and grievance, etc.

LO3 Interpret the law in relation to key ethical and professional Practice Themes in health and social care

Key Practice Themes
Health, Safety and Safeguarding
Valuing and Promoting Diversity, Difference and Inclusion
Promoting Physical and Mental Health, and Emotional Wellbeing
Overview of Practice Themes as related in national and international law and impact on specific groups
Common law protections, the rule of law, residual liberties
Universal human rights instruments, ‘claim rights’ and the accompanying duties and responsibilities: e.g. Human Rights Act (1998) and relationship to the European Convention on Human Rights (1950)
Relevant human rights, e.g. the right to life, prohibition against inhumane and degrading treatment, right to privacy and family life, prohibition of discrimination
Review of key features of national legislation identified in LO2 in relation to safeguarding and protecting users of health, care and support services

Country-specific safeguarding and protection legislation
Review of key features of national legislation identified in LO2 in relation to
health and safety in the workplace
Country-specific health and/or safety legislation
Review of aspects of national legislation identified in LO2 in relation to promoting physical and mental health, and emotional wellbeing
Country-specific legislation related to health and social care practitioners’ responsibilities in this regard
Equality legislation protecting the rights of specific individuals or groups e.g. United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2008), UN Convention on the Rights of a Child (1989), UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (2001), protected characteristics, prohibited acts, other current country-specific equality legislation.
Aspects of Codes of practice interpreting the law
Responsibilities and duties (of health, social care and support service practitioners)
Adopting a holistic approach to promoting an individual’s overall wellbeing e.g in the UK, as per the principles of the Care Act 2014 Being competent (professional and informed), demonstrating nondiscriminatory, ethical, effective and safe practice that enhances individuals’ wellbeing

Maintaining confidentiality, data protection principles, sharing information, statutory overrides
Links between legal frameworks and demonstrating professional values, attitudes and behaviour
Ensuring currency and compliance by keeping up-to-date with codes of practice and other practice requirements including Continuing Professional

Development and training
Fitness to practice referrals and proceedings

LO4 Apply law and policy in line with regulatory and ethical requirements in a relevant practice setting
Regulatory and ethical requirements
Professional practice regulators/regulation, e.g. EU Professional Qualifications
Directive (2005/36/EC), in the UK, Health and Care Professions Council
(HCPC), Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)
Codes of Professional Practice and Ethics
Regulators of service providers
Impact of a lack of regard for regulatory and ethical requirements, e.g.
unwarranted variation
Relevant practice setting
In hospital:
statutory and independent sector health services, in or out-patient services.
Close to home or at home:
nursing homes other assisted and supported living services community health or social care setting, e.g. mental health crisis housing public health service information, advice and support services
domiciliary care services Charitable end of life or health and wellbeing support services Other health and social care services provided in own nation

Learning Outcomes and Assessment Criteria

Pass Merit Distinction
LO1 Explore the legal framework within which health and social care practitioners operate D1 Evaluate own national system of government in relation to its effect on health, care and support service practice and practitioners
P1 Describe how the legislature, the executive and the judiciary set the legal and policy landscape for health and social care practitioners

P2 Summarise key features of legislation, statutory guidance, codes of practice, and national and organisational policy

M1 Explain in detail how ethical considerations have informed the legal and policy landscape in own nation with respect to the work of health, care or support service practitioners
LO2 Describe key legislation, national and organisational policy of fundamental importance to the health, care or support service practitioner D2 Analyse the impact of equality legislation, policy and the notion of equity on the practice of safeguarding individuals in health, care or support services
P3 Describe the relationship between key legislation and national policies, of direct relevance to health and social care practice

P4 Compare national and organisational policies against national professional standards in terms of their impact on health and social care practice

M2 Reflect on ways in which specific tasks in health, care or support service practice meet national professional standards of safe and non-discriminatory practice
LO3 Interpret the law in relation to key ethical and professional Practice Themes in health and social care LO3 and LO4

D3 Critically review ways in which health, care and support service practitioners can ensure currency and compliance with relevant legislation and national policies through ethical practice

P5 Explain how specific national and international human rights law influence and inform the equal and fair treatment of others in health, care and support services

P6 Implement different and relevant legislation and policy in regard to safe and healthy conduct in own practice

M3 Analyse recent health and social care legislation or national policies in relation to their importance in informing rights and responsibilities of health, care or support service practitioners
LO4 Apply law and policy in line with regulatory and ethical requirements in a relevant practice setting  
P7 Describe the relationship between law, policy and ethical requirements in relation to a real case scenario in a health or care setting

P8 Explain the impact of relevant law and policy on the outcome of a real case scenario

M4 Explain in detail how chosen law, policy and ethical considerations might result in difference outcomes to the case scenario taking into account unwarranted variation

 

This unit maps to the qualification Practice Themes as below:

  LEARNING REQUIREMENTS (UNIT CONTENT) ASSESSMENT REQUIREMENTS (ASSESSMENT CRITERIA)
THEME 1: LAW, REGULATION AND ETHICAL PRACTICE LO1-4 All assessment criteria
THEME 2: PROFESSIONAL VALUES, ATTITUDES AND BEHAVIOURS LO1-4 P1, P3-P8
THEME 3: HEALTH, SAFETY AND SAFEGUARDING THROUGH THE LIFESPAN LO2-4 P4, P7, P8
THEME 4: VALUING AND PROMOTING DIVERSITY, DIFFERENCE AND INCLUSION LO3 P5
THEME 5: PROMOTING PHYSICAL AND MENTAL HEALTH AND WELLBEING LO3, LO 4 P6, P7, P8
THEME 6: NUMERACY IN PRACTICE LO1 P1, P2

 

Essential requirements
Case study material is essential and can be provided by the tutor or based on students’ work situations.

Delivery
Tutors must be appropriately qualified and experienced in the health and social care sector to cover the principles and skills development aspects of this unit.

Assessment
Students must be given time to develop their workplace experience, knowledge and understanding before assessment of this unit. They will be expected to present evidence based substantially on their work in health, care and/or support services. Evidence against practice-based criteria can be collated in the Practical Learning and Development Portfolio (PLAD).

Employer engagement and vocational contexts
A letter to employers that briefly outlines the Learning Outcomes of this unit may be helpful to support students’ workplace learning needs. An exemplar letter is given in the PLAD that accompanies this specification.

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