A person-centred approach to support considers not just an individual’s simple needs, but also the more complex things they may wish to attain in life – the important things.
These ‘important things in life’ can be just about anything. Maybe it’s finding a job. Or, it could be making new friends or forming a loving relationship. Perhaps it involves moving to a home of your own and exercising the right to live exactly the way you wish.
Now, the complication with these ‘important things’ is that working towards and attaining them typically involves taking risks. This is inherent, and reflects the fact that they are valuable.
Some folk seem to think that risk, in relation to people, can be calculated in the same way as one might measure risk in a factory or plant. However, it could be argued that risk is easier to gauge in relation to a nuclear power plant or a chemical reaction.
At least in those situations physics or chemistry will make results more objective and a body of evidence can be built to accurately measure the likelihood of harm.
Where people are concerned the predictability of risk is much more difficult, as they do not always act, or react, in an objective or replicable way. As such, risk assessment and management is usually a best guess when it comes to people.
This presents a huge challenge to service providers as every aspiration has the potential to go wrong; falling in love can lead to heartbreak, a new job doesn’t always work out. An organisation’s mettle will be tested when a risk is taken and backfires, rather than succeeds.
There is an expectation that if a risk does backfire, then society, relatives, regulators, the courts and the media will blame the people paid to support the person involved.
Despite this, in a person-centred approach to support, care providers must strive to include positive management of risk and the attainment of the ‘important things in life’.
It certainly makes things tricky, but otherwise, it is simply not ‘person-centred’. And anyway, when has anything easy to get been worth having?
Shonagh Methven, Director of Learning, Quality and Risk Management.
This blog is part of a series on the topic of person-centred organisations and approaches. It is also tied in to the release of Creating Person-Centred Organisations, by Stephen Stirk and Helen Sanderson – which heavily features United Response.
If you are new to person-centred thinking, we have a series of videos in which our managing director explores different facets of the topic.
You can access the full playlist of videos on the United Response Youtube Channel.