CORU Domain 3, Safety and Quality, outlines the requirements for graduates in terms of assessment of needs, planning interventions and the evaluation of practice with an emphasis on safe practice. Some of the standards are very specific, such as SoP 3.7, “Be able to prioritise and maintain the safety of both service users and those involved in their care”, while others promote a broader understanding of quality assurance and improvement. Other proficiencies in Domain 3 emphasise the role of risk management, quality assurance and safeguarding.
It is evident that risk and safeguarding are core duties of the social care worker. Developments in relation to safeguarding both children and vulnerable adults, such as the Children First Act 2015 or the HSE's Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults Policy, have been necessary and welcomed. Over time, risk management systems have become increasingly important in social care and approaches to risk, and consequently models of care, differ not just from sector to sector but organisationally. Risk assessment has become a core feature of the work and social care workers dynamically assess risk (in relation to an individual needs, to environments, to activities) in an on-going way.
Some have voiced concerns around how this focus might impinge on other elements of the work. Brown's (2016) research with social care workers working in residential childcare settings concluded that risk management can make staff overly concerned with self-protection and prevent workers prioritising relationship building with the children. Furedi, (2006, p. 153) cautions against the “worship of safety” and advocates for thought to be given to what is sacrificed by complying with generic safety policies. Therefore, while risk and safeguarding is an important aspect of our duty of care, it is essential to adopt a “risk sensible” rather than “risk adverse” approach (Munro, 2011, p. 43). Payne (2009) reminds us that some risk is normative within human relationships and human services, therefore it is important to balance risk and safeguarding with providing opportunities for growth and development.
The chapters in domain 3 of the eBook A Guide to the Standards of Proficiency for Social Care Workers (2020) address these issues and offer a broad range of discussion, ideas, case studies and reflections on assessing and managing risk, and balancing that with capacity building and creating opportunities for growth.
A Guide to the Standards of Proficiency for Social Care Workers Chapter 3 Domain 3: https://socialcareireland.ie/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Guide-to-Domain03v3.pdf
Tusla guide for reporting welfare concerns: https://www.tusla.ie/uploads/content/4214-TUSLA_Guide_to_Reporters_Guide_A4_v3.pdf
Tusla Website on risk assessment : https://www.tusla.ie/children-first/organisations/what-is-a-risk-assessment/