Why you should never make yourself a cuppa, ever again

18 October 2016

In this post Michelle talks about the importance of a person-centred approach to risk and the different ways we can help you to embed a new way of working.

What risks have you taken today?

If you’ve had a typical day, your first thought might be “none”. But let’s think it through in a little more detail:

  • Have you made yourself a cup of tea?
  • Have you left the house?
  • Have you been alone at any point?
  • Perhaps you’ve spoken to someone you don’t know?

Screen Shot 2016-10-19 at 10.04.29

These might not feel like big risks, but an element of risk is always involved.

Let’s take the tea example. There is always a risk that you could scald yourself with the hot water. Perhaps you drop your mug and then stand on a piece of broken ceramic. And let’s not even think about the possibility of a biscuit breaking in two mid-dunk!

OK, maybe the biscuit isn’t such a risk – but the other risks are possible, if unlikely, scenarios. The only way to completely remove any element of risk would be to completely stop making tea – ever again.


How is this relevant to care and support?

Completely removing the chance to make yourself a cuppa might seem ridiculous, but scenarios like this happen in care and support environments regularly in order to ensure that someone is kept safe and well.

When we do this, we’re losing sight of the balance between what is important FOR a person (keeping them safe and well) and what is important TO them (in this case, being able to maintain some basic independence and control).

Fortunately, keeping someone alive but miserable is no longer acceptable and this is reflected in more recent legislation. Personalised care that takes into account what matters to people is enshrined in the Care Act, the NHS Forward View and other key policy documents. For this to matter, it’s vital that we take practical steps to managing risk in new ways.


Thinking about risk differently

In order to help people live the life they want, we need to understand that there is an element of risk. This could happen any time they step out the front door, are left alone or, indeed, make themselves a hot drink. But once we identify the risks, there are tried-and-tested person-centred ways to mitigating them. This is at the heart of the person-centred approach to risk.

So, the next time someone talks about wanting to make their own cup of tea, it’s important to think about what this action means to them. As trivial as it might seem, it can represent independence and control and contribute to a feeling of self-worth.

It isn’t always a simple choice between getting scalded and removing someone’s choice to make a cup of tea; which is why it’s important to have a process to think ideas through. Something as simple as a specially-adapted kettle can make a big difference to somebody’s life.

There are certain tools and processes that can help to generate ideas, and we explain these in more detail in our new person-centred risk online learning package and on our person-centred risk courses. Some questions you might be asking are:

  • What is important to the person?
  • What does best support look like?
  • What is positive and possible?

By reframing risk in this way and focusing on practical solutions, we can make a difference to a person’s happiness and wellbeing whilst keeping them safe and well. Let’s all just keep our fingers crossed that that biscuit stays in one piece!


Helen Sanderson Associates new online learning package provides the tools to embed a person-centred approach to risk for only £49, with bulk discounts available. We’re also offering an extended version, with three interactive webinar sessions, for £79. Click here to find out more.

We also offer face-to-face training in person-centred risk, click here for more information.

Keep in touch

Our media contact

T: +44 (0)161 442 8271

E: info@helensandersonassociates.co.uk