So much of our work is concerned with keeping our clients away from risks, but sometimes taking well-calculated, managed risks can lead to enjoyable experiences for our clients and help them retain their independence as much as possible. Positive risk-taking is an approach which focuses on what people CAN do, not just how they’re limited. Taking time to plan an activity with their carer and assess the risks and what-ifs can be a great way to help our clients regain their confidence when it comes to mobility and independence. An example of positive risk-taking could be the client taking the bus into town to visit a café or the shops on their own, giving them the chance to have valuable social interactions and to explore at their own pace. Positive risk-taking involves consideration of what could go wrong, and what to do if something does, so that the client, their carer and their family can all have confidence that the risk is worth taking. Precautions might include an easy-to-use mobile phone, some money for a taxi or even a tracking device, to address the specific risks identified.
When planning activities, it is essential to keep the client at the centre of the process, so that they can understand the risks involved and decide for themselves that it is an activity they are willing to positively take risks to achieve. Spending time together planning these exciting activities fosters a trusting relationship between the client and the carer, which helps the client to feel more secure and comfortable in positive risk-taking. Planning with the strengths of the client in mind, their weaknesses a hurdle to overcome later in the planning process, helps to create a positive atmosphere where the person can enjoy making the most of the abilities they have.
When positive risk-taking, it is important to consider not only the concerns of the client themselves, but also those of their family and professional carer. The aim is to strike a balance between keeping the person safe and away from risks, while also ensuring some planned risks are taken to give them an enhanced quality of life and allow them to live their life they way they have always liked to. It is in no one’s interest to put the client through any unnecessary risks, but risk is ever-present and, when well prepared for, risk-taking can go a long way to bring joy and independence to our clients.
Understanding the client and their life is at the centre of positive risk-taking; many of our clients have lived incredibly active lives and it is important that they get to spend their old age in the spirit of their earlier lives. An understanding of the activities people have always loved comes from a close relationship with their carer and family who know them beyond the medical understanding of the health services. In consultation with the client’s GP, physiotherapist or other practitioners, the client, family and carer can work together to plan appropriate activities to make the most of the person’s abilities and experience while satisfying the concerns of all involved.