Friday, September 17, 2010

Keeping details from clients

So one of my people who had bed bugs, also received a bill for close to $1000.00 for the treatment.

They of course (as I knew they would) flipped out and refused to pay because in their eyes, either the apartment complex or our agency should be responsible. I knew I could recommend they go to DSS and ask for a "one-shot-deal" to pay, however, they do have a special needs trust as a result of the settlement of their accident, with a decent (not huge) amount of cash in there that would most likely make them ineligible for this "emergency" money.

As a tax-payer in this county, I personally agree with this rule. It sucks, but if you do have $$$$ available you need to tap into that (again IMO) first, before you request tax-payer money to pay. Especially because there are people in worse situations that need access to these kinds of emergency funds.

SO......I decided to call their trustee and ask if they could take the $$$$ out of the trust as well as purchase them a new piece of furniture that they threw out as a result of the bed bug infestation. The trustee agreed on the condition that I not inform my client where the $$$$$ came from. (Again because the client will FREAK knowing this is her $$$$$$).

I talked it over with my supervisor, who felt that this was okay, because as this client's social worker, I really do not have a say how the funds in their trust be spent.

I've been telling my client that I found a resource in the community that would pay their bill and purchase them new furniture.

I also am not sharing the resource with most of the rest of the team because I don't want to take the chance that someone tells them where I came up with the $$$$$$.

What do you think? Am I being deceitful? Should I have kept this info from my client? One of my co-workers told me I was overthinking this too much and that I should feel grateful that my client has a trust they can tap into when needed.


  1. We're learning about Ethics right now in school, and I've learned my opinion is not normally ethical! Haha. So take this however you want.

    Personally, I think you have to think about the kind of harm this could bring to your patient in the long run and would it be possible for them to sue you over something like this? I honestly don't see how that could be, although you can be sued for anything nowadays. I feel like because the client has gained something and you are working on behalf of them and another party, anyone would probably laugh this out of court. I'd just make sure you document the "deception" in your notes to be safe and write down that you did discuss it with someone too.

  2. Yup. I did document the conversation with the person who oversees the trust. :)

  3. Greetings!

    I am a graduate research assistant for Dr Emily Douglas at Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts. Dr. Douglas is conducting a new study on child maltreatment fatalities. She has studied, taught, and published regularly on this topic, which is also the focus of her year-long fellowship in 2010-2011. We are actively recruiting participants for this online, anonymous survey. I write to inquire if you would be willing to post a recruitment statement about the study. Please email me if you would be interested in helping out:

    We thank you in advance for your consideration.


    Sean McCarthy, MSW Candidate

  4. Sean:

    I do not have a lot of contact with children in my day to day work, but I do have my opinions on this topic. I also have had to involve CPS a handful of times. I don't know if that is enough to participate in a study like this.