First published in 1982, Risk and Social Work provides a useful framework for analysing risk in the social welfare context. Surprisingly, social work and other helping professions have hitherto given little attention to the use and meaning of ‘risk’, although the term is frequently employed, with clients and helpers being described as ‘at risk’, or ‘in danger’. The media have taken up these terms, noticeably in cases involving child abuse, the elderly and conditions in psychiatric institutions, often at the expense of our image of the social services. Paul Brearley’s discussion of the analysis and management of risk in social work will therefore be of value to people working in the helping professions. Mr. Brearley begins by establishing a series of definitions, drawing primarily from the commercial insurance field, and from the literature on scientific and workplace hazards. These definitions form the base for a framework of risk analysis which stresses the importance of values and the chance element in decision making about risk. He shows how this framework can be used in practice in emergency and risky situations, and looks at the management of hazards and uncertainty with particular reference to social work practice.

Foreword Preface Introduction 1. The nature of risk 2. Risk in social work 3. Acceptability, accountability and responsibility 4. Towards a framework for risk analysis 5. Risk assessment: prediction and uncertainty 6. Risk management 7. Concluding Bibliography Index