“Some awful things will happen”: Sydney Dignity of Risk forum warns boards to step up now

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Board members, executives and Directors of Care have been urged to be proactive about embedding a culture around dignity of risk at a forum by Ansvar Insurance which I attended last week in Barangaroo.

Held at Marsh Care Solutions’ office, the ‘Balancing Dignity of Risk and Duty of Care’ forum saw an expert panel of speakers – Ansvar’s Senior Risk Consultant Anthony Black, Monash University Professor Joseph Ibrahim and Marsh Care Solutions’ National Practice Leader Lyle Steffensen – discuss issues around how providers can meet the new Aged Care Standards starting 1 July 2018 – just five weeks away.

Under the requirements, providers must ensure “each consumer is supported to take risks to enable them to live the best life they can” while providing “effective management of high-impact or high-prevalence risks associated with the care of each consumer” – competing standards that Mr Black warned can’t just be managed by care staff.

“People in leadership need to understand that dignity of risk is part of culture. I challenge you to start conversations about ‘what is your role?’” he told the audience.

Professor Ibrahim was equally blunt. “You can’t manage risk if you don’t know what’s going on. If you don’t do anything, the risk will remain hidden until something goes wrong.”

To make their point, the panel screened Professor Ibrahim’s award-winning short film ‘Dignity of Risk’ featuring an encounter between ‘Prof. Joe’ and a patient, Mr Jones, who has recently been diagnosed with dementia, that raises questions about protecting Mr Jones from harm versus intruding on his quality of life.

The three speakers then joined together to take questions from the audience covering issues such as how to manage the potential impact of trauma on staff when residents are given the right to choose – issues that will surely come up as the new Standards come into force.

Ansvar will be hosting more ‘Dignity of Risk’ forums so we will keep you advised of the next date and location if your team and board would like to attend.