Working with Human Worries…A person centred approach to working with Outcomes and Risk

We work in an ever changing environment in human services. We are trying our best to focus on personal outcomes in our work with people – to align our support to people with what really matters to them. This entirely positive move to understand the people we work alongside as partners, allies and co-producers rather than clients – as citizens rather than service users – challenges many of the systems and practices which have come to be seen as ‘common sense’ in health, social care and other professions which strive to support community members.

Challenging the approach

We think it is time to challenge that service- led ‘common sense’. This course questions the ethics and efficacy of a risk assessment model which we suggest has been imported almost wholesale from general industry to human services in the last decades of the Twentieth Century. This risk assessment model has become a barrier rather than enabler of citizenship in many of our current support services.

An alternative person centred, citizen centred model needs to be constructed alongside the people we seek to serve with policy initiatives such as Self-Directed Support and Health and Social Care Integration. We hope this course is a modest contribution to that urgent task.

Asking different questions in a different way

This 1-day course suggests we need to ask different questions and ask them in a different way. Can we initiate good conversations alongside partners about what matters to them and what worries they may have about this – rather than ‘risk assess service users’? If we genuinely want to work alongside individuals to support them to have lives of meaning and contribution as citizens we need to be clear about what we need to think about in order to enable people to be healthy and safe – but we equally need to be clear about what is really none of our business.

If we take this approach things will go wrong. Things go wrong within the current risk-averse culture. The big difference will be more people whose contribution is present and valued, more people who are able to live life as they choose and whose wellbeing is improved as a result. Individuals who try things and maybe don’t succeed at first – but who learn and go on to try again or try something different and in the process emerge as genuine citizens.

As Helen Keller famously said ‘Life is either a daring adventure or it is nothing.’

Learning Outcomes:

  • To understand the difference between human worries and risk assessment
  • To place risk in the context of personal outcomes and citizenship
  • To explore what influences assessment (of risk in particular)
  • To explore person centred frameworks for considering risk
  • To apply these ideas to your practice situation.

Course Facilitators:

Stephen Finlayson author of ‘Stop Worrying About Risk’ (Centre for Welfare Reform 2015) and Quality Assurance Manager, Thistle Foundation

Steve Coulson author of ‘The Big Plan – a good life after school’ (Inclusion Press 2006), ‘Co-production and Person Centred Planning (Jessica Kingsley 2007) and Lead training Consultant, Thistle Foundation.

Course venue:  Thistle Centre of Wellbeing, 13 Queen’s Walk, Edinburgh EH16 4EA

Date: Friday 7 October 2016, 10am – 4pm

Cost: £100 + VAT (lunch included)

To book onto the course or for any other enquiries contact Nichola Ma on 0131 661 9287 or email

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