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Why Risk Assessments Are So Risky

March 23, 2013

photo (12)We’ve just got back from a week’s break at Center Parcs. It was a wonderful experience. There was me, Steven and two of his support workers. We had an “exclusive executive villa”, which meant we had our own spa pool, steam room and games room. Four bedrooms, each with their own en-suite facilities (bath, toilet, a grazing yak). Too bad that we had the villa at the furthest point of the site, meaning a good 35 minute walk to any of the facilities. We needed the exercise and by crikey, we got it. By the third day, Steven was flagging and he wanted a day in. So, we just had two two-hour sessions in the spa pool, with his new Muriel’s Wedding Soundtrack CD seranading our bubbling.

The support workers were fantastic – they wouldn’t let me lift a finger. They took charge of night-times, so for the first time in about two years, I had some unbroken nights sleep. I can’t tell you how stange it feels to wake up feeling sprightly, having had seven hours un-interupted sleep. I also observed the support workers as we were going about our business on the park (or accessing the parc community). They know exactly what to do when faced with situations that Steven might find anxiety provoking. He’s always troubled by screaming babies and in order to enter the Subterranean Water Paradise, we had to walk through the “Buggy Bay” – literally over a hundred buggies parked, of course alerting us to the possibility that they were probably going to be over a hundred toddlers inside the Subterranean Water Paradise. And there were.

Of course, if Steven had still been in the positive behaviour unit, he wouldn’t have got beyond the buggy park. In fact, he probably wouldn’t have even been allowed to set foot in the whole park. On their assessment scale model, a buggy park would have scored “an intolerable risk”. End of activity. He wouldn’t have been allowed to do his favourite holiday activity; going down the water slides and flumes because the risk assessment would have considered the possibility of a meltdown at the top of the flume, putting others at risk. He wouldn’t have been allowed to go out for a meal at the wonderful Forresters Inn – they served their drinks in glasses (not plastic beakers) and glasses would have been classified as a potential weapon. The village shop would have been out of bounds – too confined a space. A walk around the lake would have been out of the question – Steven might have decided to run into the lake and he is too big and strong for anyone to stop him. And climbing up two steps (slippery ones!) to get into the spa pool would ahve been a complete no-no.

If you think I’m exaggerating, one day I’ll post a copy of one of Steven’s many risk assessments and you’ll see that no stone is left unturned in assessing the risk of Steven living a life.

Needless to say, nothing untoward happened. Myself and the support workers know that if we are walking along a footpath and a howling baby starts coming in the opposite direction, you engage Steven in an in-depth conversation about Take That and he doesn’t even notice the child. He’s not going to have a meltdown on the wild water rapids because he is too busy singing “Yes Sir, I Can Boogie” in his excitement. Etc etc etc.

But when everything is assessed so microscopically for its potential risk, of course a risk is going to be found. Thankfully, I’m prepared to take the risk of finding a grazing yak on my personal snooker table and being subsequently head butted by said yak. And in the process, Steven might just have a life worth living.


From → Social Care

  1. Jo Curphey permalink

    I’m so pleased you got to take Steven away for such a lovely holiday – and managed to have a bit of break yourself. Steven looks like he is in seventh heaven in that spa! Best wishes Jo

  2. swanarchie07 permalink

    Reblogged this on voices4parents.

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