Every person has the right to make decisions for themselves, and to take risks that help them to learn, grow, and experience life at its fullest. And for people with disability, it’s no different.
That’s why it’s important they and their loved ones know about ‘dignity of risk’ – the right of every person to, within their capacity, make the choices they want, even if they involve some level of risk.
Dignity of risk is a basic human right. Examples might include:
Where dignity of risk can get complicated is when it is balanced with duty of care – the legal responsibility to keep a person and their property safe. For example, a support worker assisting a person living in disability accommodation should honour the person’s decision to walk outside alone, even if it may be a risk to their safety.
Duty of care also means having systems in place to help reduce risk, but not at the cost of a person’s right to choose for themselves.
An example of this is, if a healthcare provider recommends a patient (who may be a person with disability) stops consuming alcohol, but the person instead decides to only reduce their intake, those who provide support to the person can check in regularly to see how they’re going with minimising their consumption.
It’s less about removing risk and more about helping someone do what they want in a safer way.
With dignity of risk, you have the right to make decisions about your life, and your support networks – family members, providers and others – should respect them, even if they don’t agree with them.