What does "duty of care" mean?


Duty of care refers to a person's responsibility toward the people in his care, in his responsibility, and engaging in his services or activities. According to the Social Care Institute of Excellence, duty of care is a legal requirement always to act in the best interest of those in a person's care and to never act or fail to act in a way that harms others.

Duty of care is most commonly used with reference to medicine and health care but also relates to employers and any person or business working with the public. The Collins Dictionary defines duty of care as the legal requirement to safeguard those in a person's care to the best of that person's ability. The Social Care Institute for Excellence, or SCIE, describes duty of care as the provision of the best possible care for an individual, with the individual's consent. The SCIE also notes that there is an exception in cases where the practitioner knows without doubt that the individual lacks the capacity to provide informed consent. In this instance, if a suitable guardian is not available, it is the role of the caregiver to make the decision. It is important to note that duty of care requires a caretaker always to act in the best interest of an individual, but it also requires him never to fail to act. Failing to act is negligence and dereliction of duty, as described by the SCIE.

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