Support for a person should address different needs; those which are important to a person and those which are important for a person. This is a crucial differentiation to make.
Support which provides those things which are important for a person includes – for example – ensuring that medication administration is carried out correctly, that hoisting is carried out using the correct equipment, and that the risk from scalding water during a bath or shower is controlled. This is the first type of risk we must manage.
These things are – quite obviously – essential, and it is crucial for the person supported that staff get them right. However, it’s important to recognise that such activity does nothing to support a person’s hopes and dreams. How dull would life be if your most fervent wish was to receive the correct dose of medication each day?
Nevertheless, getting what is important for a person right can be complicated and difficult. Because of this organisations that provide support should put in place guidelines around the identification and management of these types of risk. Managing risks in the ‘important for’ area is the day job. These risks are what organisations such as United Response are paid to control. It’s a profound responsibility which we take very seriously.
But at the same time, we mustn’t lose sight of what is important to an individual. This is the second type of risk we must manage.
Positive risk taking must be about what is important to people; a home, friends, a job, a relationship, a social life and a place in the community.
Because, let’s be honest, lots of the things we desire, aspire to and wish to fulfil involve risk, inherently. We all take risks, every day. Who hasn’t ever had their heart broken or regretted partying just that bit too hard? As professionals, with an important duty of care, it’s tempting to just say ‘no’ and avoid the problem completely, but this denies individual s their right to enjoy a full – and fulfilled – life.
Lets not allow risks which we must control to stifle the rights of an individual to exercise control over their life and to seek the things that are important to them, as we all do.
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.