Working with risk

Supporting the safety of your social workers  

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Social work is based on transformational interpersonal relationships. This means social workers are well placed to work alongside people who use care and support to enable positive risk taking. The international definition of social work references the need for social workers to understand, assess, balance and work with risks.

The social work capabilities within the international definition are embedded at all experience levels within the Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF).

The roles and functions of social workers in England provides examples of safeguarding and risk management situations in which social workers should be the lead professional.

 The Care Act guidance shows social workers have a key role in adult safeguarding, planning and reviews for people who lack capacity. 

Supporting personalised risk management

For personalised risk management and safeguarding to be realised, it is important that practitioners have a real sense of ownership and are able to take calculated risks in their thinking.

Organisational and professional approaches to risk

An organisational culture that supports your staff is central to the development of practitioner confidence in sharing responsibility for risk. For this to happen a whole system approach towards a “no-blame” culture and a positive learning environment is needed.

This can be achieved by:

Practitioner confidence in sharing responsibility for risk

Practitioner confidence is further supported by your commitment to the following:

  • Shared decision making.
  • The Standards for Employers of Social Workers of Social Workers in England which provide guidance on the conditions needed to support social workers as autonomous professionals.
  • The ASYE which provides a platform for your NQSWs to embed a critically reflective approach to the supervisory process throughout their professional career.
  • Clarity of procedure for recording. Even though your social workers are working in a person-centred way, they still need to use their professional judgement and record their views. This is particularly relevant when they are at odds with those supporting the person in need of care and support and recording systems will support them to do this. This is also especially important in safeguarding cases where people in need of care and support choose to make a decision which the social worker feels is not in their best interest. 

Evidence based approaches to risk assessment and management

Developing an evidenced based approach to risk assessment and management is an important strategy which enables your social workers to balance the management of risk with innovative and personalised practice.

Further advice and guidance

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