Human Services Ethics

Human Services Ethics


M1 Case Study Discussion: Derek

When working with clients in the human services field, there will be situations that require
you to make difficult decisions. Often, there is not a right or wrong answer, but instead it
becomes a matter of determining what is best for that particular situation and for the
individuals involved.
For this discussion, we will look at a case example that involves this type of difficult
decision. To begin, review the following case:
Fifteen-year-old Derek Ferguson has severe autism. Cognitively, he functions on the
level of a five year-old. While he is often fairly placid and content to engage in stimming
(self-stimulating behaviors), Derek also has a long history of self-injurious behavior. In
the past, his injuries were relatively minor. Recently, however, Derek’s injuries have
required medical attention.
Kelley Ferguson is Derek’s mother. She is a single parent with three younger children,
ages 2, 6, and 9. Kelley works at two jobs, one full-time and one part-time job, and relies
on her elderly aunt, Sandra Coleman, for childcare. Ms. Coleman has become
increasingly fearful of Derek and therefore, she and Ms. Ferguson have approached the
Autism Training Center (ATC) for assistance. A thorough assessment of the situation has
been made, including interviews with family members and formal testing as well as
observation of Derek. Per ATC protocol, the treatment team is now meeting with the
family to consider how best to proceed.
You are Randall Hernandez, LPC, Derek’s case manager. Based on interviews, you
know that the family is severely stressed. Because she has missed so much work due to
Ms. Coleman’s fear of Derek, Ms. Ferguson may lose her primary job, which would be
financially devastating and likely to result in homelessness. As the case manager, you
have two choices:
Choice 1: Given the severity of Derek’s behavior and the fact that he is sometimes a
danger to himself and others, you recommend immediate hospitalization.
Choice 2: While Derek’s behavior is sometimes dangerous, he is often quite placid. You
recommend a specially-trained in-home aide to assist Ms. Ferguson and Ms. Coleman in
caring for Derek and suggest the addition of a respite provider once a week.
Now, develop a main response in which you address the following:

 Discuss the possible consequences of each choice.
 Identify which choice you believe would be best for Derek and his family.
 Explain why you believe this course of action is the best


Answer Preview……………..

Human service professionals usually find themselves in situations, in which they have to make choices that even though they may not like, is for the good of the clients. The example of the situation of fifteen-year-old Derek Ferguson shows the hardships that people in the professions encounter while dispensing their duties to the people. Usually, before making important decisions that cannot be classified as right or wrong, but can also cause unforeseeable harm to the patients and their families, it is important to consider all the factors. In the case study, Randall Hernandez, the manager of the case of Derek has to make a choice that will help Derek and his family to handle the autism that he suffers from. Randall Hernandez should recommend that Derek is committed to a specialized institution. Several factors influence the decisions. The first factor is the well-being of the patient, the health of the family, the financial condition of the family and other factors…………….

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