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The right to take risks

Alison Faulkner (Independent Service User Consultant based in London, UK)

The Journal of Adult Protection

ISSN: 1466-8203

Article publication date: 30 November 2012




Commissioned as part of a Joseph Rowntree Foundation scoping programme, this consultation aims to explore the views of disabled people and service users about risk.


The consultation reached nine individuals and one focus group, reaching a total of 17 disabled people and service users. Their views were supplemented by the literature.


The landscape of risk and rights is highly complex. Disabled people and service users have quite different concerns about risk to those of the professionals and the regulatory bodies acting on their behalf. Many people talked of the fear of losing their independence, of asserting their rights and the fear of powerlessness in the face of bureaucracy and (sometimes) uncaring staff.

Research limitations/implications

The profile of rights needs to be raised in an accessible and acceptable way: it is necessary to make the language of rights more commonplace. There is a particular need to reach into mental health and residential care services to find ways of enabling people to have their rights realised. The report has implications for risk assessment and risk management as well as for the regulatory bodies responsible in adult social care. Raising awareness among professionals and policy makers about the risks that service users themselves fear and experience should demonstrate just how important it is that the people whose risk is under consideration are involved in the process.


This paper highlights the views of users of adult social care about risk; their views have rarely been documented.



Faulkner, A. (2012), "The right to take risks", The Journal of Adult Protection, Vol. 14 No. 6, pp. 287-296.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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