Ethical Principle of Humanistic Care

Humanistic care is an ethical principle relevant to many sudden crisis events that create victims.

Humanism is a philosophic tradition and value system that takes the human individual as its starting point, emphasizing the uniqueness and inherent worth of human beings.

Therefore “the ethical component remains a cornerstone in humanism in that it attributes unalienable rights to everybody, independent from ethnicity, nationality, social status or gender.” The ethics of care concerns the duty of all humans to others, specifically requiring a supportive response to individuals in suffering and in need.  The notion can also be extended to the care of natural environment, as it is essential for human flourishing and our general well-being.

Based on the humanistic care principle, the first priority in any crisis is to protect stakeholders from harm, not to protect the organization reputation. All victims or potential victims should receive instructing information, including recall information. Instructing information tells stakeholders what they must do to protect themselves from the physical threat of a crisis. Examples would be telling consumers not to eat contaminated foods or warning messages alerting the public to a chemical leak. All victims should be provided an expression of sympathy, any information about corrective actions and trauma counseling when needed.

When a crisis brings harm to individuals and leads to sufferings and loss, disaster victims need to receive medical assistance, food, shelter, counseling, and short-term financial assistance. From a humanistic perspective, organizations have an ethical duty to avoid any action that could harm others. They also have a duty to be supportive to those harmed by crises. If an organization encounters a natural disaster or industrial accident that caused deaths, family members of victims and others affected could be offered memorial services and other forms of support. Post-crisis communication should include counseling and follow-up messages.

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