As Helen Keller famously said ‘Life is either a daring adventure or it is nothing.’
We work in an ever changing environment in human services. We are trying our best to focus on personal outcomes in our work with people – to align our support to people with what really matters to them. This entirely positive move to understand the people we work alongside as partners, allies and co-producers rather than clients – as citizens rather than service users – challenges many of the systems and practices which have come to be seen as ‘common sense’ in health, social care and other professions which strive to support community members.
We think it is time to challenge that service-led ‘common sense’. This course questions the ethics and efficacy of a risk assessment model which we suggest has been imported almost wholesale from general industry to human services in the last decades of the Twentieth Century. This risk assessment model has become a barrier rather than enabler of citizenship in many of our current support services.
An alternative person centred, citizen centred model needs to be constructed alongside the people we seek to serve with policy initiatives such as Self-Directed Support and Health and Social Care Integration. We hope this course is a modest contribution to that urgent task.
This 1-day course suggests we need to ask different questions and ask them in a different way. Can we initiate good conversations alongside partners about what matters to them and what worries they may have about this – rather than ‘risk assess service users’? If we genuinely want to work alongside individuals to support them to have lives of meaning and contribution as citizens we need to be clear about what we need to think about in order to enable people to be healthy and safe – but we equally need to be clear what is really none of our business.
Things still go wrong within the current risk averse culture. The big difference a more human approach could offer will be more people whose contribution is present and valued