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By James E. Thompson

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Is the outcome so serious that the risk cannot be countenanced? Can any action be taken to reduce the impact of the outcome if problems do occur? What will the person gain from the experience that requires this risk to be taken? How likely is it that this experience will be useful or pleasurable to the person? Does the likelihood of harm outweigh the likelihood of benefit? Is this in the person’s best interests? What would I choose for myself or my family members, and what do colleagues feel that they would choose?

Similarly, although eating and drinking may lead to choking, for most of us, this risk is not very great. Some individuals may have specific problems in eating or swallowing, however, which may make this a much greater risk for them. Thus, knowledge of the individual is essential in managing this type of risk. However, it is also important to try and obtain some realistic assessment of the true statistical probability of any given risk occurring. There is often a tendency to over-estimate risk for others and underestimate it for ourselves.

Only if that approach fails and they clearly are unable to understand what they are choosing, or we are seriously worried about their health or safety, should alternatives be sought. A structured approach to the assessment and management of risk will include consideration of the factors that relate to that particular person, their level of ability, their problems and their abilities. It will also consider the capacity of the person with intellectual impairment, the environmental factors, including the frequency that risks are taken, the level of risk in terms of its likelihood of occurring, and the possible outcomes, both good and 46 Risk Assessment in People with Learning Disabilities bad.

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Inspection Organization and Methods by James E. Thompson


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