1.6.2 Assessing risk
Dev Sharma’s arrival at the Durrants’ home, following an incident involving a knife, is an example of an ambiguous situation. The morning after the incident he has to visit the Durrants, having received a telephone call from the home carer, reporting a claim by Arthur that his daughter, who has learning difficulties, has threatened him with a knife. Dev has to initiate a risk assessment. But what exactly happened and how should he set about his duties?
As a social worker Dev Sharma is expected to follow guidelines. The General Social Care Council’s Code of Conduct for workers will need to guide Dev’s actions. For your convenience they are reproduced here.
Protect the rights and promote the interests of service users and carers.
Strive to establish and maintain the trust and confidence of service users and carers.
Promote the independence of service users while protecting them as far as possible from danger or harm.
Respect the rights of service users whilst seeking to ensure that their behaviour does not harm themselves or other people
Uphold public trust and confidence in social care services.
Be accountable for the quality of their work and take responsibility for maintaining and improving their knowledge and skills.
You can see that Dev is not required simply to arrive at his own personal interpretation of events in the Durrants’ home. He is expected to work within a code of practice, and also within a partnership of service users, carers and other professionals. Nevertheless, he has to begin by trying to establish the facts of the knife incident and to gather relevant opinions as to its meaning. Was there a genuine threat to attack, or was it just an angry gesture when Lynne happened to have a knife in her hand? Was this an early incident in a cycle of escalating abuse against a frail older person? Or was it a ‘normal’ dispute in a family where relationships are difficult – a brief moment of assertiveness by Lynne within a lifetime of oppression by Arthur? However, before he can find out anything, Dev’s first challenge on entering the Durrants’ home is to ‘communicate and engage’ (another core competency).