Developing a common language for assessing and communicating risk
Pages 10

There are signifi cant differences in the various types of risk assessment you might undertake, for example:


There are inherent problems in using terminology such as ‘short, medium or long term’ etc., as these are subjective and open to interpretation. Ideally, it is better to think of risk in terms of whether it is immediate, i.e. likely to happen now, or in the future, in which case what would need to happen to make it more likely the risk would become imminent? Again, rather than describe risk in vague language such as ‘low’, ‘medium’ or ‘high’ (when, for instance does ‘medium term’ begin and end?), it is more useful to describe risk in terms of risk factors. These can be as follows:

Static These are fi xed, historical factors e.g. gender, family history of suicide, violence, previous hospital admissions, previous risk incidents. They are not anything that can be changed, therefore not something to ‘treat’ and do not provide a guide about whether or not risk has changed in the current context. However, these can provide a baseline or guide to how the person may behave in certain circumstances, e.g. will they make

threats or have they carried out actual acts of violence in the past? As such, you cannot afford to ignore them.