Balancing Duty of Care and Dignity of Risk



There’s a fine balancing act at Melba. One that’s important to each and every person we support, and that’s why we strive to get the balance right.

Firstly, ‘duty of care’ is the obligation to ensure a person’s safety and to manage any foreseeable risks and dangers. In any situation, Melba support workers must have a duty of care to people we support, to ensure their safety thereby managing any foreseeable risks and dangers which may arise. Secondly ‘dignity of risk’ is the principle of allowing each person the right to control his or her destiny and to fully experience life, both good and bad. The basis of both principles is each person has a right to make choices and to express themselves, and that human rights are important to people supported as individuals. Support workers support each person in their journey.

At Melba, there are some guiding principles to help achieve this fine balancing act:

  1. Support people to try new and different things! Situations of risk are not the same - some can have small impacts and others can have significant impacts. Melba support workers assess the impacts of failure as they arise.

  2. For any new experience, support workers minimise any foreseeable risks through discussion and education. This helps to develop a shared understanding of what level of risk may be involved.

  3. Having plans in place is important – support workers discuss and inform all the “what if” in any new situation.

  4. Provide people we support with the opportunity to learn from small mistakes. People do not learn without the experience of making mistakes. It is human nature!

Good support entails staff providing people we support information and exposure to opportunities which they have identified, in a safe environment.

It is from education and exposure to both existing and new activities that the people we support experience a fabulous life of their choosing.