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Risk Management among Older People

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The intention of this study is the concept of risk. McDonald argues that risk is quite a serious societal issue as demonstrated by more emphasis being placed in distribution of risks than in distribution of wealth. McDonald then explores several perspectives of the definition/concept of risk in the society as it relates to social work, beginning with the widely accepted legal view that risk is the likelihood of an event occurring and the existence of a duty of care that is owed to those who might be affected (in this case the elderly) by reasonably foreseeable consequences of another party’s actions. Another perspective of risk is the actuarial notion, where it is the probability of occurrence of certain events based on statistical analyses of whole populations or subgroups, where in this case we have the older people sub-group. McDonald also discusses the social constructivist aspect of risk, where certain risks have been granted cultural acceptance based on different societal dynamics. An example concerning older people is where certain risk-taking behaviours are out of question in a manner different to young people who may not be limited by such events. For instance, although the risk of injury from engaging in sport is present for all sub-groups, older people are more constrained from it differently from young people. Across all these concepts of risk, it is discernible that the shared characteristic is in the probability of an event occurring, and for the purposes of social work, an opportunity to pre-empt the event from occurring which forms a vital dimension of social work. The functional definition is that risk involves calculation of probability of and description of the likelihood of a future event given certain conditions, while at the same time recognising duty of care. Risk assessment is an issue related to the probabilistic aspect of the social workers knowledge base. hence it involves balancing out the outcomes for the service user in question (Hawkes 2003, p. 6). The role of the social worker here is to assess the probability of significant harm occurring, or assess that which has already occurred in a bid to prevent further/future harm from occurring. Assessment of risk occupies a pivotal position in social work since it occurs at the initial point of contact between the service user and the social worker, and hence the effectiveness of intervention mechanisms depends to a large extent on the outcomes of the risk assessment. Social Worker Duty, Reasons for Risk Assessment and Obsession with Risk Assessment The reasons behind the obsession of social work with risk assessment can be traced from the trends in the wider society. McLauglin (2008, pp. 3-6) first establishes that there is an ongoing preoccupation with risk in the society and its minimisation, with the primary concern of the contemporary society shifting from being after something good to instead preventing the worst (tendency towards self-limitation as opposed to pursuing self realisation). This shift is being driven by a shift from natural hazards to man-made ones especially in the developed world, where for example an older person