SCIE Report 36: Enabling risk, ensuring safety: Self-directed support and personal budgets
'[Local authorities should] review their formal safeguarding procedures with [risk] issues in mind as they think about the role and remit of their workforce' (Tyson et al, 2010)
Self-directed support and staying safe: the In Control perspective
In Control has suggested that consideration of positive risk taking and safeguarding needs to be an integral part of the self-directed support process, including support planning and review and decisions on how best to manage a personal budget.
The organisation has argued that self-directed support has the potential to make people safer than traditional social care and support services. This is because it:
- provides a model for responding to complex cases of vulnerability and abuse where careful risk management and person-centred practice are essential
- creates a framework for preventing abuse by strengthening communities – connection with friends, neighbours and other local people who know and care about us are usually the best way to stay safe and we should strengthen those connections.
While risk enablement as part of support planning and review is critical, In Control recommends that local authorities should also review their formal safeguarding procedures with these issues in mind as they think about the role and remit of their workforce.
They also recommend the following points for risk enablement and safeguarding and particularly highlight the importance of the social worker role:
- Clearly define the role and responsibilities of professional social work staff and others in terms that reflect the positive role they play in risk enablement for individuals, and for the detection and prevention of abuse.
- Make it clear that it is the responsibility of all staff to be aware of adult and child protection procedures and to provide alerts through the agreed channels with appropriate urgency.
- Make it clear that suspected or actual incidents of abuse will be investigated and potentially prosecuted by the police and criminal justice system.
- Set out the important role that professional social workers have in many situations, especially in instances where criminal prosecution is viewed as inappropriate. Social workers are well equipped to work alongside the police to solve complex social and family issues, and to bring into play gentler measures through planning and problem solving approaches.
- Play a part in the creation of a no-blame culture – one which provides a collective response to abuse and does not scapegoat individual members of staff.
The In Control 'Supporting safely' guide for all those involved in supporting people using self-directed support and personal budgets outlines some key things to consider:
- When you are providing care and support to someone, you must think about health and safety issues for yourself, the person you are supporting and anyone you might come into contact with while you are providing support.
- Identifying risks: the person you are supporting should be very specific about anything harmful that they think might feasibly happen given their particular circumstances, paying special attention to any problems that have occurred before.
- Responses to risks: you need to work with the person you are supporting to think about anything you could reasonably do to reduce or remove any risks that have been identified. Think about all the possible responses and be imaginative.
- Evaluate the options: you need to think carefully through the potential consequences of all of these responses in turn with the person you are supporting. Consider whether the response does actually reduce risk, and make sure that in doing so, you are not compromising their independence. It will help to talk these issues through with other people who know the individual well, and any professionals who might be able to provide advice or guidance, such as the person's social worker or a health professional. It is important that the person you are supporting is enabled to weigh up the pros and cons of all the possible courses of action being considered before any final decisions about how the risk is to be managed are made.
- If you have been involved in these discussions, it is important that you keep a record of this thinking and decision making process, so that you can refer back to it if anyone questions why you are taking the approach that is eventually decided upon to manage any risks.