People who have not been diagnosed with reduced capacity have the “right” to make risky and potentially self-defeating choices without intervention from authorities, clinicians or service providers wishing to protect them from the consequences of their choices.
The concept of the dignity of risk acknowledges the fact that accompanying every endeavour is the element of risk and that every opportunity for growth carries with it the potential for failure. All people learn through a process of trial and error. We learn through taking risks and trying new things and we often learn as much from our mistakes as we do from our successes (Deegan, 2001).
Supporting a person to improve or maintain their independence can & does mean that some risks are taken. As Nurses we strive to keep the people we support safe. By keeping a person “too safe ‘we can limit a person’s opportunities to learn and enjoy a fulfilling life.
As Nurses we take on a caring role when supporting someone who requires our assistance. We often bring to work our own values from our family and culture. This may mean being cautious in supporting someone to take risks. As Nurses we are also aware of our duty of care and that it is a significant legal responsibility. However as Community Nurses we also have a responsibility to take on an education role – working with the person so that they can be as independent as possible.
How can we achieve the balance?
Develop an understanding of what Duty of Care means for you, with the knowledge that it does not exists to create restrictions for a person with a disability.
Work with the person to understand what is important to them and provide them & assist them with the means and the skills to make informed choices.
Work as a team so that all decisions are discussed.