Risk assessing in social work



hello my name is David goosey I'm one of the authors of law for social workers this is a short talk about risk assessing in social work much of Social Work practice is taken up with assessing what might occur in the future it's a profession which is in the prediction game the task is to avoid something harmful or dangerous happening to a service user and this is the business of assessing risk strictly speaking risk is actually about probability the probability of something happening whereas in common parlance risk is synonymous with the danger which is to be avoided as in the saying manage the risk it's useful then to separate out what you think should be avoided an order person falling a mental health service user harming themselves we call this the danger from the likelihood of that happening it would be helpful if we could provide a numerical indicator for likelihood for example there's a 70% likelihood that James will be abused but we don't have the research evidence to help with this what we can judge though is whether something is more likely than not this is the issue which Baroness Hale contends with in rebe children care proceedings standard of proof 2008 you'll find a discussion of this on pages 288 to 290 in the 14th edition in summary she says at the standard of proof about whether a child is likely to be significantly harmed is the balance of probabilities is something more likely than not rebe is a case concerning children but the standard can equally be applied to adults when assessing risk this is straightforward but in practice deciding whether something is more likely to happen than not is notoriously difficult on what basis do we decide in the same case Baroness Fowler says of the court needs to consider existing facts often from a multitude of such facts about what has happened in the past about the character and personalities of the people involved about the things that they've said under here she's emphasizing evidence and rightly say the basis of prediction should always be made by an examination of evidence rather than because of worries anxieties or concerns although these can sometimes help you to decide what evidence to collect the following stages in the assessment of risk provide a helpful guide what is or has been happening what might happen how likely are these outcomes how desirable are they overall judgment of risk is the combination of the likelihood and the seriousness your overall judgment needs to be carefully thought out and it's likely to be influenced by the perspective you take up about the service user it's easier then to become biased and to misjudge the evidence therefore you might wish to use the tier model tier stands for theory evidence evidence testing and reflection a good theory helps you to understand what evidence to collect and what the evidence might mean being clear about the evidence itself is the next step often that evident least evidence needs to be tested for its reliability and validity and finally it's useful to reflect your analysis

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