Risk management paradigms in health and social services for professional decision making on the long term care of older people

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Abstract

Risk management systems and structures are developing rapidly within UK health and personal social services. However, the risk management strategies of organisations need to take into account the conceptual frameworks used by professionals. This grounded theory study used data from 19 focus groups and 9 semi-structured interviews (99 staff in total) to explore perspectives on risk and decision-making regarding the long term care of older people. Focus group participants and interviewees comprised social workers, care managers, consultant geriatricians, general medical practitioners, community nurses, occupational therapists, home care managers and hospital discharge support staff. Social work and health care professionals conceptualised risk and its management according to six paradigms that appeared to be in a state of reciprocal tension: (1) Identifying and Meeting Needs, (2) Minimising Situational Hazards, (3) Protecting this Individual and Others, (4) Balancing Benefits and Harms, (5) Accounting for Resources and Priorities, and (6) Wariness of Lurking Conflicts. The effective translation into practice of risk management strategies needs to address the complex and often contradictory issues facing health and social services professionals.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1411-1429
Number of pages19
JournalThe British Journal of Social Work
Volume36
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2006

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