Monday 28 May 2007

Case Study--Ethics in Member Care

The Case of John Fidelity

One useful way to explore the relevance of ethics in the care of staff is to use a case study approach. The following fictitious account includes at least 25 unethical or potentially unethical practices. Read through this study and try to identify as many of them as possible.
The Fidelity Family
John--Anne (parents)
Angela, Jerome (children)

John is a 28 year old member of a European sending agency. On the average he works 10 to 12 hour days and is almost always available to help out when there is a need in the office. He is the type of person who doesn't say no to those over him, sometimes at the expense of his own needs. He often uses part of his vacation time for helping others.

John was raised in the Middle East and went to a university in Europe for two years where he met his wife, Anne. He married at age 24 and has two healthy children, Angela (age 3) and Jerome (age six months). Currently he and his family live and work in Asia at the regional office.

During the last three months John, who is usually very friendly, has become increasingly irritable with his colleagues and somewhat withdrawn with his family. His supervisor noticed these changes and talked to John's wife about what he viewed as "pride and independence" in John. She confided in him that they both feel apathetic and that she has little energy to take care of her home and work responsibilities. The supervisor shares some Scripture with her. He then encourages her to talk to John about taking some time off to "get back into work shape" and for him to talk to someone about his problems. She follows his advice.

John was too busy to take time off but he did agree to contact the Director of Training, Ms. Bartell, for counseling. She is a European woman who has taken some counseling courses at a Christian University and is recognized within the agency for her ability to listen and offer appropriate advice. She also provides counseling to Christians from some of the local churches to supplement her income.

Ms. Bartell works on a fundraising committee with John and three others which meets once a month. John approaches her after a meeting and schedules a time with her to talk and pray about his problems. She also begins to pray regularly for Jean with the Pastoral Care Committee.

Ms. Bartell obtained John's files from the temporary secretary in the Personnel Department to better acquaint herself with his background. John had taken a personality test as part of the screening process to be accepted on staff. He scored high on the "depression" scale, so she wondered if he had tendencies towards a serious emotional disorder.

Ms. Bartell also decided to speak to John's wife and supervisor to better understand his struggles. The supervisor recommended that Ms. Bartell borrow a "temperament analysis" test and administer it to John in order to further explore his strengths and weaknesses. She administered the test and then spoke with the supervisor, recommending that John be placed in a department where he can have less paperwork and more people contact.

John and Ms. Bartell meet for four counseling sessions. They spend most of their time talking about the challenges of raising his two children, his past relationship with his father, and his apprehension to openly talk about his work frustrations with leaders. Ms. Bartell spends time listening for what might be the "root" of his problems, and subsequently advises him to work fewer hours, spend more time with his family, and be more assertive with colleagues.

After the fourth session, Ms. Bartell tells John that she feels led to send him to an agency leader who has come to the regional headqurters in Asia to give two weeks of seminars. She feels this person can encourage him and possibly give him more insights into his current situation. John gives her a small honorarium for her services, and a few days later approaches the agency leader.
Reflection and Discussion
This fictitious case study contains at least 25 ethical or possibly unethical items. Try to find as many as you can. This study is slightly adapted from the original article (Ethical Concerns in Providing Member Care Services) in Missionary Care (1992). To get the article and its commentary contact us at Member Care Associates:
Consider these questions too:
1. How would you go about dealing with this case? List three things that you would do to help John and his family.
2. What suggestions would you make to the sending agency in this case to improve its member care programme?
3. Which ethical issues are most common within your sending organization?

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