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Code of Ethics

CODE OF ETHICS

Each employee, intern, volunteer, or contractor of UCS is required to subscribe to the following set of standards.

UCS staff are committed to respecting the dignity of each client and to increasing each client’s level of independence. Staff assist in promoting the full development of each client’s potential.

All employees and other individuals providing services on behalf of UCS are required to conduct themselves in an ethical and professional manner at all times. Supervisors, senior management, the corporate compliance officer, and the director of Human Resources are all responsible for maintaining these standards.

I. GENERAL RESPONSIBILITIES

A. I will facilitate services that effectively meet the individual needs of our clients. I will seek required guidance and assistance from staff and others to ensure the highest quality of service delivery and to resolve any problem that may impair my performance.
B. I will promote a respectful and therapeutic atmosphere, demonstrating through my actions and involvement, my unique skills to assist client with a healthy adjustment to life.
C. I will always maintain professional objectivity and self-discipline so that each client’s needs remain my primary focus.
D. I am aware of the sensitivity of my work, its social impact, and the need to continually maintain appropriate boundaries. I will make every effort to avoid relationships that could impair my professional judgment or impact the trust of the public or my colleagues. If I become involved in such a relationship, I will immediately notify my supervisor or the director of Human Resources.
E. I will continually offer and participate in professional training, as is appropriate to my profession and position with UCS, understanding that I have an obligation to remain proficient and competent in the delivery of my professional services.
F. I will not discriminate against or refuse professional services to anyone on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, national origin, place of birth, ancestry, age, disability, uniformed services/veteran status, marital status, sexual orientation, having a positive test result on an HIV related blood test or any other category or characteristic protected by law.
G. I will not participate in or condone any form of harassment or discrimination. Should I witness any form of harassment or discrimination by another employee or individual performing services on behalf of UCS, I will immediately report it to the director of Human Resources, unless the offending party is the director of Human Resources, in which case I will report it to the executive director.
H. I will not assume professional responsibility for clients served by a colleague without appropriate consultation with that colleague except in cases of clinical emergency and when consultation is not indicated or available.
I. I will, should I be called upon to supervise other employees, evaluate their performance in a responsible, fair, considerate, and equitable manner. J. I am aware of cultural and ethnic differences and respect the diversity and individuality provided by these differences.
K. I will complete all documentation, including but not limited to, consumer records, billing records, and timesheets in an accurate, timely and complete manner. Furthermore, I will not knowingly permit others to falsely submit records and, if I obtain such knowledge, I will notify my division director and the corporate compliance officer.
L. I will engage in safe work practices and promote health and safety in the workplace and will comply with all UCS policies, rules, and regulations pertaining to health and safety.
M. I have reviewed and will comply with the UCS Personnel Policies and Procedures, in particular the policy on Professional Conduct found at Section IV Division H and Section IX related to Health Safety and Security requirements.
N. I have reviewed and will comply with my Division’s Operations Manual.

II. ADVOCACY OF RIGHTS OF CLIENT

A. I will work to ensure that the legal rights of each client are not violated or denied in any way. I will act in accordance with standards of professional integrity, including any ethical requirements related to any professional licensure or certification that I hold.
B. I am dedicated to the development of each client’s independence and inclusion in the community.
C. I will do my best to ensure that co-workers, fellow professionals, and UCS respect the rights of the client.
D. I will do my best to ensure all clients’ rights to privacy, including those rights presented in UCS’s Notice of Privacy Practices are followed. I will report any violations to my manager, division director or privacy officer.
E. I will provide assistance to a client wishing to register a complaint relating to the quality or quantity of services and will ensure that no retaliation occurs against that client for registering the complaint.
F. I have reviewed and will comply with both the UCS Bill of Rights for Clients and the UCS Personnel Policies and Procedures, in particular Section VIII related to Administration and Section X related to Compliance requirements. These sections relate to the rights of clients, including but not limited to privacy rights.

III. ETHICS

A. I will, when disseminating or sharing non-consumer information, acknowledge and reference any sources of published information.
B. I will not place myself in a position where I am under obligation to any person who might benefit from special considerations or favors. I will not seek in any way to gain special treatment from other clients which could compromise UCS. This includes other health care providers, outside vendors, community members, and any other business-based relationships.
C. I will avoid giving or receiving gifts or entertainment if there is likelihood that they may be intended to improperly influence my judgment in dealing with or for UCS. The term gift, as used here, includes, but is not limited to, cash, goods, entertainment, services, loans, trips, or the use of property. I will notify my manager of any gifts offered to or received by me.
D. I will make no payment, gift or favor to any person in a position of trust in order to violate their duty or to obtain favorable treatment in negotiations or the award of contracts.
E. I will avoid any situation or action that may create or appear to create a conflict of interest with clients, staff, vendors or the community in general.
F. I will, upon termination of my employment for any reason whatsoever, immediately return to UCS all property, inventions, writings, files, memoranda and documents (includes computerized material) that are in my possession or are under my control as a result of my employment with UCS.
G. I realize that any violation of ethical or legal standards will damage relationships and tarnish the reputation of UCS. As such, I will adhere to all such standards and will encourage and support my fellow employees to do likewise. Should I have a question about a conflict of interest or become aware of any violation of ethical or legal standards, I will immediately ask about the situation or report the violation to UCS’ corporate compliance officer.

IV. RESPONSIBILITY TOWARD ORGANIZATION

A. I recognize the necessity of adhering to the policies, procedures, and ethical standards of UCS and agree and commit to do so. Towards that end, I have reviewed and agree to comply with the UCS Personnel Policies and Procedures, particularly those set out in Section VIII Administration, Section IX Health Safety and Security, and Section XI Management Information Systems.
B. I have the responsibility to promote the most positive reputation possible through our relationships with individuals and the community. In this regard, I understand that spreading rumors, gossiping, or making negative comments about UCS, its employees, and clients does not advance the reputation of UCS.
C. I will accurately represent myself (education, license/certification, training, experience, and competencies), treatment techniques and the mental health and developmental service professions at all times. Should others misrepresent my credentials, qualifications or other information about me, I will take immediate and appropriate action to have this misrepresentation corrected.
D. I will represent UCS and the services it provides in a straightforward and honest manner, thereby avoiding the real or perceived use of deceptive or ambiguous marketing practices.
E. I understand and agree that all ideas, inventions, discoveries and improvements whether written, drawn, photographed, recorded or otherwise produced, whether or not capable of being patented, trademarked or copyrighted, made, devised or discovered in connection with my employment and the services that I render are the sole property of United Community Services.
F. I will not utilize UCS resources for non-UCS purposes or transact other than UCS business during working hours.
G. I will not participate in any lobbying efforts during working hours unless I receive specific permission to do so from the UCS executive director.
H. I understand that I am not to make any political contributions on behalf of UCS. Any political contributions that I do make are strictly made on a personal level.
I. I will act in an ethical and professional manner when representing UCS regardless of circumstances.
J. I will maintain a respectful relationship with all co-workers, support their efforts to reach their full potential as a professional, and promote a healthy and collaborative working environment.
K. I will strive to maintain professional behavior and demeanor in all situations. If my behavior is other than professional, I will remove myself from the situation if possible, or will respond cooperatively if I need to be removed from the situation.
L. I have reviewed and will comply with my Division’s Operations Manual.

V. CONFIDENTIALITY

A. I will abide by all federal and state laws, as well as UCS rules and regulations regarding confidentiality. I understand that I am prohibited from releasing or revealing any information, electronic, written or oral, about clients without their or their guardian’s expressed written authorization. I understand that these rules and regulations, as described in United Community Services “Notice of Privacy Practices”, and/or United Community Services policies and procedures regarding confidentiality and release of information, apply to all programs and activities including, but not limited to, treatment, training, rehabilitation, administration, education, and finance. Records and information covered by confidentiality rules and regulations include, but are not limited to, client’s identification and status records and information, diagnostic records and information, prognostic records and information, treatment, training, and rehabilitation records and information, attendance records and information, and payer and fee records and information.

B. I understand that there are certain instances where information may be disclosed without the authorization of the client. I have reviewed and will comply with Section X, Division N of the UCS Personnel Policies and Procedures which sets out requirements related to the Disclosure of Protected Health Information to Others Involved in an Individual’s Care. If I am required to share information I will do so in a respectful manner adhering to the client’s legal and human rights and will follow all UCS policies and procedures relating to the release of information, including those set out in Section VIII Administration and Section X Compliance of the UCS Personnel Policies and Procedures. Instances where I may be required to share information are as follows:

1. When there is a bona fide medical emergency, information may be given to medical personnel.
2. When a person suffering from a serious medical condition is incapable of rational communication, the family or others may be notified.
3. When authorized by a court order, information may be released. Such an order would release the disclosure prohibitions but could not, of its own force, require disclosure.
4. When communication of information does not constitute disclosure, i.e.:

  • Those that do not identify the client in any way;
  • Those within UCS that are between staff having a need for such information in connection with their duties or in the case of an emergency;
  • Those between a program and a qualified service organization. A “qualified service organization” is a person or organization that provides services to a program such as data processing, laboratory, legal, medical, accounting, or other professional services. To be qualified as a “qualified service organization” it must agree by signing the “Business Associate Agreement” and be bound by these regulations.

C. I will follow UCS policies and procedures when storing or disposing records or other information about clients.
D. I will refer all media inquiries and other inquiries of a general nature to the executive director or his or her designee. The executive director must approve all press releases, publications, speeches, or other official declarations by designated personnel in advance.
E. I will refer inquiries seeking information concerning applicants for employment, current employees, or former employees to the director of Human Resources, who will identify the reason for the inquiry prior to releasing any information. This includes all requests for references. I have reviewed and will comply with Section VII Division D References of the UCS Personnel Policies and Procedures.
F. I understand that my responsibility for maintaining confidentiality is not limited to clients but also includes colleagues, programs, and UCS.
G. I will ensure that all of my communication, whether verbal or written, will be conducted in an appropriate and discreet manner thereby ensuring that information and identification regarding clients is protected.
H. I will not use or disclose to anyone not affiliated with United Community Services or its affiliates or subsidiaries any confidential or unpublished information that I may obtain as a result of my employment.
I. I will abide by all confidentiality and privacy laws, rules, regulations, policies and procedures both during my employment with UCS and for all time following termination of my employment with UCS.

VI. DISTRIBUTION AND ENFORCEMENT

A. I understand that should I become aware of or suspect a violation of this Standard of Ethical and Professional Behavior that it is my responsibility to report the matter promptly to my division director or to the director of Human Resources.
B. I understand that if I am the initial point of contact for a client, it is my responsibility to advise the client that a Standard of Ethical and Professional Behavior exists and is available for his or her review.
C. I understand that on an annual basis I will be required to confirm my compliance and understanding of this standard and HIPAA privacy regulations.
D. I understand that the director of Human Resources may present any significant suspected violations to the Ethics Committee for review. The Ethics Committee, comprised of the executive director, the medical director, the director of Human Resources, and a division director (from an area not involved with the suspected violation), will assess compliance and issue a written determination within five (5) business days to the Human Resources department for final action. Violations of this code may be cause for prompt and appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including termination and possible legal action.
E. I understand that the Ethics Committee will provide a forum to review various issues relating to ethical practices to assist in determining the appropriate response to issues arising through the interaction with the community and UCS’ employees.
F. I understand that this standard applies to United Community Services, its subsidiaries and affiliates. It may be appropriate that any division adapt this code to meet their specific needs. Any adaptation will be in conjunction with this standard. In such circumstances, it would be the duty of the appropriate division director to alert the executive director and the director of Human Resources of such special circumstances.
G. I will, if uncertain as to the interpretation of this Standard of Ethical and Professional Behavior, seek advice from my immediate supervisor, division director, or the director of Human Resources.

Form HR.0003 Revised 04/06; rev. 4/07