Positive Risk Taking in Residential Care

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Introduction
“Nothing ventured, nothing gained” makes the point that unless someone takes a risk and tries new activities, they will never know of the positive benefits that might result. In our society, people are encouraged to travel widely, take part in regular leisure and sporting activities, go to college, develop careers and have families. These are all activities that don’t just happen, but mean people have to take risks to achieve their aspirations.

For many people taking risks is an accepted part of life. However people with an enduring illness or disability are often discouraged from taking risks, either because of their perceived limitations or fear that they or others might be harmed. In Craegmoor services we believe passionately that every person, regardless of the challenges they face, can accomplish extraordinary achievements with the right support. So we work imaginatively to help people overcome barriers, and empower them to exceed their own and others’ expectations

We know that everyone is unique, and ordinary everyday experiences can, for some, represent extraordinary achievements. So by encouraging people to take control and have belief in their potential, we can make positive outcomes a reality for everyone, regardless of their age or presumed ability. Above all, helping people to lead fulfilled, independent lives is what Craegmoor services are all about.

Historically, social care has been good at providing services that minimised risk. However, personalisation and person centred care planning and risk assessment means that residential care should always endeavor to always work towards providing choices rather than services.

What is Risk?
Risk within a Residential Care context is the possibility that an event will occur with harmful outcomes for a service user or others with whom they come into contact.

A risk event can have harmful outcomes because of:
* risks associated with impairment or disability such as falls * health conditions or mental health problems
* accidents, for example, whilst out in the community or within the residential care setting * risks associated with everyday activities that might be increased by a person’s illness or disability * the use of medication

* the misuse of drugs or alcohol
* behaviours resulting in injury, neglect, abuse, and exploitation by self or others * self harm, neglect or thoughts of suicide
* aggression and violence
* poor planning or service management

The type of outcome depends on the nature of the individual, their relationships with others and the circumstances in which they find themselves.

Risk is often thought of in terms of danger, loss, threat, damage or injury. But as well as potentially negative characteristics, risk-taking can have positive benefits for the individual service user, the residential care setting and the wider community.

Risk can be minimised by the support of others, this could be staff, family, friends or other service professionals involved with the individual. However, in promoting independence, individual responsibility for taking risks must be a balance between safeguarding someone from harm and enabling them to lead a more independent life where they effectively manage risks themselves.

A balance therefore has to be achieved between the desire of people to carry out everyday activities with the duty of care owed by residential care providers and Craegmoor as an employer to their staff and to users of their services.

In addition to considering the dangers associated with risk, the potential benefits of risk-taking have to be identified (‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’). Wherever possible, Craegmoor will attempt to involve everyone affected – service users, their families and professionals involved in the individuals care and support.

Principles of working with risk
A number of important issues need to be considered by Residential Care staff and...
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