Case Studies / Activities


Thinking about risk –iIt is sometimes argued that professionals have a tendency to be over-cautious or over-protective when working with service users who may be at risk or want to do something which might be considered risky; the so-called ‘risk averse’ perspective. Yet alongside this there is a view that the social work profession is adept at working positively in situations where there is a high degree of risk and that practitioners are able to navigate the complexities of finely tuned risk decisions. In addition, as stated in the chapter, risk can be both positive and negative. Consider the risks you regularly take in your own life. What are the positive benefits for you? Think about whether you are free to take these risks as you choose or whether you need permission or support to be risky. Secondly, consider situations where a service user wanted to take risks.

  • Was he/she enabled to do so?
  • If yes, what do you think were the key factors in promoting the service user’s wishes? If no, what prevented the risk being taken?
  • Did you agree with the decision made?
  • How difficult do you find such situations? In your experience is there anything that assists to make judgements less difficult?
  • What are your attitudes towards risk taking when working with different groups of people, e.g. children, people with mental health problems, older people and so on?
  • Do you think you have ever obstructed a service user from doing something because you felt the risk was too great? Was your decision justifiable?

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