The common theme that runs through all of our products is how we use Risk Maps to identify the issues that people present to services. This post sets out what we mean by Risk Maps and sets out how easy they are to use in face to face work..
In the course of our work, to measure outcomes, we have identified many of the common issues that services tell us clients present. These issues, if not resolved, pose a risk to an individual’s health and wellbeing. In the vast majority of cases the risks we have identified are obvious. For example most people readily recognise the risks to health and wellbeing posed by poor quality housing, smoking and raised blood pressure.
We have worked with services, across many different sectors, to identify common risks and then define them in a way that is consistent with best practice and in line with objectives set in National Outcome Frameworks. This means that we have identified and defined a lot of risks, currently ninety three. This is too many for most services to record for the clients they see. Equally it is very unlikely that all ninety three are not going to be relevant to all services.
To make the recording of risks and issues more manageable we have created Risk Maps; we use these maps to present only those risks that are common to people that access services. We have done this by working with services and using their knowledge of their clients, to make a map that is relevant.
Each of our maps recognises that there are overarching factors that have an impact on an individuals health and wellbeing. We split these into three categories:-
- Personal Circumstances – These are issues that relate to someone’s socioeconomic situation. This would include things like housing, a person’s financial situation or domestic abuse.
- Behaviour – Risks that fall under behaviour include areas where people might have slightly more control over improving their health and wellbeing. This would include things like smoking, exercise and diet.
- Status – We use status as a catch all category to cover more service specific risks and issues. For example in a health setting this might focus on clinical issues around blood pressure whereas in an employment situation it would look at access to education and skill levels.
Through using these categories we can create Risk Maps that are easy to complete but cover all aspects of an individual’s lives. We encourage organisations to talk through the whole range of risks on a map as many issues in a person’s life are interconnected. A client presenting to a GP asking for support with stress and anxiety might also need support with excessive alcohol consumption. To extend that example further, it’s possible that same client is not going to make progress in managing their excessive alcohol consumption until they have got control of their housing situation. We do not advise asking targeted questions about risks, nor using maps as a questionnaire. We find that clients tend to bring up the most relevant issues through disclosure, these are then recorded as they arise.
We recognise that the broad Public Health framework doesn’t always reflect the needs of some specialised services. We have worked with agencies in a number of sectors to create maps that reflect the needs that their clients present. So far we have created:-
Each map calls on the ninety three common risks but uses only those that are most relevant. As we work with agencies, and they identify other risks, that are relevant to them, we define these risks and add them to our pool. We constantly monitor the issues to ensure that the definitions are consistent with best practice. We can easily update definitions and they cascade through our system.
Risk Maps are extremely easy to complete, ensure consistency in recording client and allow the needs you identify to be aggregated with other services.