4222-305 Understand positive risk taking for individuals with disabilities (LD 305) 1. Understand that individuals with disabilities have the same right as everyone else to take risks 1.2 Explain why, traditionally, people with disabilities have been discouraged or prevented from taking risks. In Social Care there is an accountability for the welfare of the individual, whether they are being cared for or enabled to be independent. The enabler has responsibility for the individual, and the Company that provides the service to the client has responsibility towards both the enabler and the individual. They are answerable to families, CQC, the local council, social care workers and the police. An individual, who has the mental capacity to know and understand what they are doing and the consequences, is bound by British Law. Risks are not just about accidents that may happen; they are also about behaviour and social awareness. When a person is not acting in a socially acceptable manner, members of the public may complain or at least interfere. They may get hurt, or their belongings damaged. There is a tension between the concept of “duty of care” and “empowerment and inclusion”. It is not legal under British Law to put vulnerable people into a place of risk. However, it is not legal to imprison them either. There has been, and still is confusion and tension between the concepts of safeguarding, responsibility, duty of care, inclusion, empowerment, and enablement. In past generations, there was less inclusion for people with learning disabilities, and if a person is not included in everyday life, then they are not included in the risks taken in everyday life. Thinking about my own life - I cook: I cut my finger with a knife by accident. I iron: I catch myself and endure a shallow burn. I cross the road: I take safety precautions, but a random car may speed up, or a motorbike turn without signalling. These are risks I take several times daily. Why is a person with learning difficulties exempt? They are not exempt, but there is the understanding that their concept of risk could be quite different to mine.
Because they have learning difficulties, they may not learn that the knives cut, the iron is hot, and vehicles kill. Therefore they are at greater risk if allowed to cut with sharp knives, iron with hot irons and cross roads alone, than I would be.
Do we experience an over-bureaucratisation of care in the Western part of the world? Is there a blame culture, arising from an increasingly litigious society? One mistake and a company is sued. The temptation is to do nothing that incurs risk; with no risks taken there is no chance of an accident. There is no chance of investigation, court proceedings, compensation, increased insurance charges and negative reputation adhering to the company.
Companies who deliver Social Care are accountable. They need to follow British Law. Risk assessments should be put in place for activities that incur reasonable risk, and these need to be followed. The individual with learning difficulties should be supported so that risks are minimal, documented, prepared for and no unnecessary risks take place through negligence. Andy Alaszewski et al (1999) Empowerment and Protection: a conclusion from this study was that organisations and agencies need to develop risk policies that embrace both protection and empowerment issues if individuals with a learning disability are to enjoy full lives in the community. Another aspect of risk in the community is the right of people who do not have diagnosed learning difficulties to live their life with minimum disruption. I have taken a person with learning disabilities to a cafe where he put his hand in a person’s salad, and tried to sit on their knee. Thankfully the salad had been left by the customer, but they did not want anyone sitting on their knee. I had put risk assessments in place, and thought it a positive place to enter the community,...
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