Aims and objectives - The overall project aimed to understand the variability of the construction of risk in dementia care from the perspective of the person with dementia, family carers and practitioners with the intention of developing negotiated partnerships in risk management. This paper focuses on the objective of identifying the understandings of risk by practitioners. Background - Risk management can result in a ‘safety first’ approach to care practices, but this may be disempowering for people with dementia. Design - This paper describes the results of the first stage of the study: a survey to service managers or equivalent in health, social and voluntary sector care organizations in three countries of the UK. Methods - Data from this stage was collection by postal questionnaire (n = 46). Results - Risk was portrayed as a multidimensional concept and clustered around three themes: (1) Risk and Independence, (2) Risk and Resource, and (3) Organizational Risk Management. Conclusions - Very wide understandings of risk are identifiable, ranging from avoidance of physical harm through to managed risk taking to improve quality of life, and to an appreciation of the impact of organizational and professional patterns of behaviour resulting in harm to the person with dementia. Relevance to clinical practice - Obtaining information about the perspectives of others may help to illuminate some of the dilemmas experienced by staff in this study, and the development of risk assessment frameworks may assist staff to resolve some of these.