Nov 28, 2017

“Dignity of risk is about choosing how you want to live your life”

Risk is something that people try are cautious of everyday – the risk of hurting themselves, the risk of financial ruin, the risk of offending someone.

But there comes a point when if a person is too wary of risk, they end up negatively impacting their quality of life.

Which brings the question – does taking risks make people’s lives better?

This is definitely seen in aged care, where choice can be taken from some in an effort to protect them from risks – and without that choice and autonomy, their lives start to deteriorate.

There’s a concept known as “dignity of risk” in health care – which is about respecting an individual’s autonomy and self-determination to make choices for themselves.

The concept means that all adults have the right to make their own choices about their health and care, even if carers and nurses, or even family members believe these choices endanger the person’s health or lifespan.

Professor Ibrahim said it was an important topic to explore, particularly in the context of aged care.

“Dignity of risk is about choosing how you want to live your life,” said Professor Ibrahim.

“It’s about understanding that even if the choices go wrong and hurt you, the pleasure they bring can make it worthwhile.”

“Towards the end of life we are more concerned with quality of life rather than length of life, but the risks of something going wrong tends to be greater.”

“This leads to society being overprotective and depriving older people of the joy of hazardous activities.”

One of the challenges when it comes to the “dignity of risk” is that caregivers are not adequately prepared. They fear things going wrong, which is understandable, but in the bigger picture of a person’s quality of life not helpful.

If a person wishes to walk outside, do some gardening by themselves or eat certain foods because it makes them happy, and they fully understand that there is a risk of falling and choking and have taken that on in their decision making – then it is suggested that there should be no reason to stop them from doing what they want.

Video: Finding The Why – Enabling Active Participation in Life by Fire Films

Things get a little bit more complicated in an aged care setting as there are potential legal ramifications should things go wrong.

Benetas CEO Sandra Hills said the organisation was proud to be facilitating the discussion which would challenge typical conversations around ageing.

“As an advocate for older people, we want to generate awareness of what the real issues are for older people in a way that is meaningful and respectful,” said Ms Hills.

“Exploring the ‘Dignity of Risk’ is particularly relevant for us as an aged care provider, as we consider how we can honour an older person’s right to choose, while maintaining their safety as best as possible.”

“Managing the risk of choice, particularly in the current landscape of consumer directed care, is a very complex issue for providers but it’s an important one.”

What do you have to say? Comment, share and like below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. As a nurse we are required to place older at risk of falls patients on beds at floor level. I have always had a problem with this because the pt has no choice in the matter and most of all their loss of dignity. Now my Dad is going through the same scenario. I hate seeing him crawling around on his mattress on the floor!!. And all he wants is to use his urinal or the toilet..

    1. Why isn’t he being toileted. Doesn’t matter if he is on a mattress or a bed he has a human right to use the bathroom.

Banner Banner
Advertisement

Old People’s Home For 4 Year Olds: Christmas special

Old People’s Home For 4 Year Olds is a UK-based reality show where a group of small children venture into a British aged care facility to spend time with the elderly residents. It’s heartwarming seeing the little ones and the residents bond and play – learning more about the other and getting out of their... Read More

Search called off for elderly man who fell overboard

The search for an elderly man who went overboard from the Sun Princess cruise ship on Saturday has been called off. The tragic incident, which occurred about 100 nautical miles south-east of Singapore, happened at about 1.30pm on Saturday. Cruise company, Carnival Australia, said CCTV footage showed the man, who was in his 80s, appeared... Read More

Elderly woman dies after cat licks wounds

  An 80-year-old grandmother has died in tragic circumstances after suffering bacterial meningitis caused by injuries from her own cat, ‘Minty.’ Doctors found the cat had given her the disease by scratching her arm and then licking the wound which led to the Melbourne woman being found unresponsive in her bed with the cat sleeping... Read More
Banner Banner
Advertisement