2.1.1. Social Workers shall identify themselves to clients as a Social Worker. When asked, a Social Worker shall provide to the client an NSCSW membership card or a certificate of registration on a timely basis.

2.2.1. Social Workers shall maintain the best interests of clients as the primary professional obligation. 1

2.2.2. Social Workers shall not discriminate against any person on the basis of age, ability, ethnic background, gender, language, marital status, national ancestry, geographical location, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation or socio-economic status.

2.2.3. Social Workers shall inform a client of the client’s right to consult another professional at any time during the provision of social work services.

2.2.4. When collaborating with other professionals and service providers in the interests of clients, Social Workers do so with the client’s knowledge and consent and involve clients (or legally mandated client representatives when clients are not capable of giving consent) in such consultations as appropriate (See Section 2.3 of this document).

2.2.5. Social Workers shall limit their involvement in the personal affairs of clients to matters related to services being provided.

2.2.6. Social Workers shall seek to safeguard the rights and interests of clients who have limited or impaired decision-making capacity when acting on their behalf, or when collaborating with others who are acting for the client. (See Section 1.2 of this document)

2.2.7. When possible, Social Workers shall provide or secure social work services in the language chosen by the client. If using an interpreter, Social Workers preferably secure an independent and qualified professional interpreter.

2.2.8. A Social Worker shall provide a professional opinion about a client only when it is based on sufficient and substantial information about the client which may include documented interaction, assessment, observation and consultation.

2.3.1. Any action that violates or diminishes the civil or legal rights of clients shall only be taken after careful evaluation of the situation (See Section 2.4 of this document).  2

2.3.2. When a Social Worker is court ordered, or agrees to conduct a legally mandated assessment, the Social Worker’s primary obligation shall be to the judge or designate. The Social Worker shall also continue to have professional obligations toward the person being assessed with respect to dignity, openness regarding limits to confidentiality and professional competence.

2.3.3. In all cases, where the client’s right to self-determination is limited by duty of care (e.g. client intent to self-harm), the law (e.g. child abuse,) or court order, Social Workers shall assist clients to negotiate and attain as much self-determination as possible. In particular, involuntary clients shall be made aware of any limitations that apply to their right to refuse services and are advised how information will be shared with other parties. 3

2.3.4. Social Workers, wherever possible, shall notify clients regarding decisions made
about them except where there is evidence that this information may bring about,
or exacerbate, serious harm to individuals or the public.

2.4.1. Social Workers who have reason to believe a child, elder or other vulnerable person is being harmed and is in need of protection shall report their concerns to the proper authorities as required by legislation.

2.4.2. Social Workers who have reason to believe that a client intends to harm another person shall inform both the person who may be at risk, if feasible, and the police. (See footnotes 7 and 8)

2.4.3. Social Workers who have reason to believe that a client intends self-inflicted harm shall take appropriate action consistent with legislation, standards of practice, workplace policies.

2.5.1. Social Workers shall continue to provide the opportunity for a client to receive professional services from the Social Worker until:

  • Service goals have been met.
  • It is reasonably clear to the Social Worker or to the client that professional services are not achieving the agreed upon purpose.
  • Professional services are no longer required.
  • The client has had a reasonable opportunity to arrange to receive professional services from another Social Worker or suitable professional.
  • A conflictual dual/multiple role relationship exists or arises.
  • The contracted service period has ended.
  • The client is transferred to another Social Worker.
  • The Social Worker leaves the place of employment.
  • A client chooses not to continue the service.

2.5.2. Social Workers who anticipate the termination of services shall give reasonable notice to the client.

2.5.3. Social Workers shall provide referrals as needed or upon the request of the client.

2.5.4. Social Workers shall not terminate a professional relationship for the purpose of entering into a personal or business relationship with a client.

2.6.1. Social Workers shall make arrangements for another Social Worker or suitable professional to deal with emergency needs of clients during periods of reasonably foreseeable absence by the Social Worker.

2.6.2. Social Workers shall make reasonable efforts to refer a client to another professional, technical or administrative service when a referral is clearly in the best interest of the client.

2.6.3. Social Workers shall make a reasonable effort to appropriately refer a client when requested to do so by the client.

2.6.4. Social Workers shall not make or accept any payment or service in exchange for making or receiving a referral

2.6.5. Social Workers shall not refer clients to another professional for a fee, non-monetary reward or any other personal benefit.

2.6.6. Social Workers shall make reasonable efforts to collaborate with other professional services for a client, as appropriate, if the Social Worker knows that the client is receiving said services.

  1. In exceptional circumstances, the priority of clients’ interests may be outweighed by the interest of others or by legal requirements or conditions. In such situations, clients are made aware of the obligations the Social Worker faces with respect to the interests of others, unless such disclosure could result in harm to others. For example, Social Workers are mandated to report instances of child abuse and elder abuse.
  2. Social Workers recognize that, in some cases, their ability to promote self-determination is limited by client’s actions which may pose a serious threat to themselves or others or who are involuntary clients (have not freely chosen social work intervention). Caution must be taken when working with clients to ensure that the assessment process is transparent and that the recommendations of assessment are based on what is in the best interest of the client.
  3. Social Workers may, in this instance, take action to prevent client self-harm without the informed consent of the client. In deciding whether to break confidentiality, Social Workers are guided by the imminence of self-harm, the presence of a mental health condition and prevailing professional standards and practices.