Hanged if you do… hanged if you don’t!
Many people are confused about their duty of care. They think they’re somehow responsible for the actions of other people. This leads them to try and prevent people from doing things that they have a perfect right to do because it might be risky. In truth our duty of care is actually much simpler than most people imagine:
- Do all that you reasonably can;
- Don’t break the law;
- You are not responsible for the actions of other people;
- You are responsible for your own actions in the situation you’re in;
- Care workers are judged upon process, not outcome.
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This series of blog posts first appeared a few years ago on a now defunct blog called ‘Care Training’. It was inspired by the training maxim of ‘making the unconscious conscious’. It is intended to take what really ought to be the most basic principles of health and social care and put them down on paper. The series isn’t only an exercise in stating the obvious though whatever the title might suggest. It’s actually intended as a philosophical foundation manual for workers and informal carers to help them get their care ‘on track’ and then to keep it that way.
Many people are confused about the exact nature of their Duty of Care toward the people they look after. To a large extent this is because they think that they are somehow accountable for the actions of other people (in this case the client or service-user).
This gives people the sense that they are:
Hanged if they do and Hanged if they don’t
In reality, you are responsible only for what you do – not for what your client does. If you do all that you can within the law to minimise risk, to help them to make decisions in their best interests and to help the client to cope more effectively then you have fulfilled your duty of care. This is true whatever the outcome might be.
- You are not responsible for someone else’s behaviour.
- You are responsible for your own behaviour in the situation in which you find yourself (including acting to keep others safe when necessary).
- You are not expected to take away people’s rights to choose if they are able to.
- Care workers are judged upon process – not upon outcome.
Do all that you reasonably can within the law.