Q: We are concerned that our risk assessments are not as detialed as they could be. What can we do to address this?

Published: Friday, 17 June 2016

A. Risk assessments are one of the areas that the Care Quality Commission (CQC) will focus on in an inspection of a service.

Common areas of non-compliance include: unclear risk assessment procedures, inconsistent risk assessments, risk assessments not being completed and risk assessments not being cross-referenced to the care and support plan. All of the above can lead to people being potentially at risk of harm and may result in a rating of requires improvement or inadequate for this key line of enquiry (KLOE).

To avoid this, care providers should develop robust objective risk assessments to cover all possible hazards (anything that has the potential to cause harm). Risk is the likelihood of harm being caused by the hazard. This can be represented by the formula: risk = likelihood + severity. If the likelihood and the severity are scored on a 1–5 scale, this gives a risk score of between 2 and 10.

The scores for the likelihood and severity of the hazard will be derived from: care plan recordings, incident reports and previous risk assessments. From this, we can judge that risk scores of 2–4 are low risk, 5–7 are medium risk and 8–10 are high risk. A risk management plan can then be developed to reduce the likelihood of the risk occurring. The risk assessment can then be redone for that hazard and the risk score should be lower. The control measures proposed to reduce the likelihood and hence the risk score should then be incorporated into the care plan.

Of course it is vital to train staff to use this risk assessment tool. You should ensure that risk assessments are reviewed whenever care plans are reviewed and/or in response to an incident. It is vital to identify all potential hazards and to assess the risks even if there is no perceived risk. A risk score of 2 shows that the assessed risk is low and all that is required is to monitor the situation.

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