RISK – an essential ingredient of opportunity and quality, 04/11/2008

RISK – an essential ingredient of opportunity and quality, 04/11/2008

§ A margin of uncertainty lies at the core of pursuing currently relevant and quality arrangements. Uncertainty in this context is an open-ended orientation to the unfolding possibilities which life presents. Planning for certainty is an exercise in designing in stagnation, rigidity, non-responsiveness.

Parents, especially in their latter years, are often drawn by the need to copperfasten a secure future for their son or daughter. Security and safety can out-trump all other considerations. An exclusive locking on to security and safety can padlock the possibility of growth, development and a more rewarding vision of the future.

The challenge for us is to reframe uncertainty as an entwining of both positive and negative.

§ Safety is a bottom-line. However, it is not the ultimate aspiration and should not be the ultimate point of reference in helping to plan for a good life. (Safety first, by all means – but not safety only.)

§ Uncertainty and risk are ever-present. If one tries to eradicate them one inadvertently cuts off the oxygen of life. Moreover, there is a deep-seated paradox at the heart of the safety-at-all-costs quest. Risk cannot be eradicated. When we group people in congregate settings and segregate them from the world to provide them with a cordon sanitaire against risk, we end up introducing enormous opportunity-cost risks; we also end up introducing a whole host of other poorly recognised risks: life-wasting, increased risk to different kinds of neglect and abuse, even increased risks to particular kinds of infections (some of which can be life threatening).

§ At a certain point in their lives, parents yearn for guarantees. Responsible service providers cannot offer guarantees. They can however offer significant assurances. The confidence which parents can place in these assurances will depend upon the degree of preparation and care which the service provider has taken in trying to optimally balance the pursuit of opportunities and the safeguarding of the person.

§ One does need to be prepared thoroughly but one also needs to arrive at a point where one is open-endedly facing the future and engaging the moment. Until that point of engagement, one will not know if one is prepared enough. It is important to have confidence in our capacity to adapt to unanticipated twists and turns. However, it is only reasonable to ask parents to place this kind of confidence in service providers if they already have had manifest evidence of the service provider’s commitment to painstaking preparation.

§ Where parents and family members seek guarantees and vetoes a) they are either acting in the belief that a risk-free outcome can be secured or b) their experience to date of their service provider is such that they lack a reasonable basis for placing such trust in the service provider. (The onus is on the service provider to earn the trust and confidence of parents and families. It should never be presumed.)

If the service provider has made an appropriate and adequate investment in this kind of preparation, it may lead them to a point where they may need to say to the families: “trust us even though you are not convinced and still nervous”.

§ It is noteworthy that parents and family members often seek higher quality assurances when their son or daughter is an inclusive rather than a segregated setting. Perhaps this derives from an assumption that the segregated environment, for all its lack of dynamism, offers a safe and risk-sanitised setting. (Service providers are probably complicit to a point in allowing this erroneous view of the segregated setting to rest unchallenged. Generally, we are very reluctant to do anything that would shake the confidence of parents in an arrangement in which they are so heavily invested, particularly as they enter their later years.)

Signed: Brendan Broderick, CEO.

Leave a Reply

Moore Abbey, Monasterevin, Co. Kildare
Mainstir Ui Mhordha, Mainistir Eimhin, Co. Chill Dara
Tel: 045 525327 Fax: 045 525251 E-mail: info@scjms.ie
© 2008 Privacy Policy - Terms & Conditions - Site Map