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Fri 11 May

FULLY BOOKED IASW National Social Work Conference 2018 - Keeping Adults Safe: Rights, Risks and Vulnerability

9.15 Registration, 10.00 - 4.00 Conference

Ashling Hotel

€30 IASW members/€100 non-members


Social workers are required to understand and navigate a complex web of policy and legislation while upholding professional codes of conduct and ethics balancing the needs, rights and wishes of service users and those impacted by service users whether as carers, relatives or dependent children. How do social workers make good enough decisions that manage to vindicate the rights of service users, to balance maximising the autonomy of service users with the protection of service users and sometimes the additional need for others to be protected from service users?


The conference aims to provide social workers with a clear understanding of

  • current and forthcoming legislation, policies and structures to promote and protect the rights of vulnerable adults
  • constructions of vulnerability
  • opportunities for social workers to influence and advocate 


At the 2017 IASW AGM, a motion on adult safeguarding was carried by the membership. 

IASW calls upon the Government to fund and legislate for a statutory social work service for vulnerable adults, including those with a mental health, intellectual or a physical disability, etc. HSE National Safeguarding Office defines a vulnerable person as; “an adult who may be restricted in capacity to guard him or herself against harm or exploitation or to report such harm or exploitation”

Explanation: Ireland does not have a statutory social work service for adults; as a result many vulnerable persons can fall within the gaps of care. The Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act 2015 and Safeguarding (Bill) 2017 will require quality services for vulnerable people. There is evidence within the UK of how social workers can address these requirements. Undertaking capacity assessments and care co-ordinating for vulnerable persons. Clearly primary care teams in particularly will need to be fully staffed in terms of the recommended numbers of social workers and enhanced following a review of the assessed needs.
Proposed by: The IASW Board of Directors Seconded by: Frank Browne


Conference Programme




Registration, tea & coffee


Open and welcome from IASW Chairperson


Jim Campbell, Professor of Social Work at University College Dublin (conference chair)


The Right of Each Adult to be Safe and Free from Abuse

Patricia Rickard-Clarke, Chair of the National Safeguarding Committee


Private Problems, Public Issues, Political Action

Senator Colette Kelleher


Tea/coffee & biscuits


A New Model: Towards Implementation of the Assisted Decision-Making Capacity Act 2015

Aine Flynn, Director of the Decision Support Service






Law, Policy and Practice with Vulnerable Adults; Findings from a Rapid Realist Review of the Literature 

Sarah Donnelly,  Asst Prof Social Work, UCD


Safeguarding “ The Lived Experience of a Safeguarding Team”

Siobhan Nunn, Principal Social Worker from Safeguarding and Protection Teams




Close of Conference


Speaker Biographies

Jim Campbell was appointed to the Professorship of Social Work at UCD in January 2015. Before then he was Professor of Social Work and Head of the Department of Social, Therapeutic and Community Studies, Goldsmiths, University of London, and spent about 20 years teaching and researching social work at Queens University Belfast.  Prior to this he practiced as a mental health social worker in Northern Ireland. He has two broad teaching and research interests. The first examines relationships between mental health social work, law and policy. The other is a longstanding interest in exploring the interface between social work and political violence, initially in the context of the Northern Irish conflict but latterly in wider comparative terms. These interests are reflected in his publications in the link below.

Jim was a member of the board of the Social Work Education for around ten years, then the British Journal of Social Work for five years. From 2010 to 2015 was co-editor of the British Journal of Social Work (with Professor John Pinkerton, Queens University Belfast). He is  currently involved in a number of research projects including a study of social workers' experiences of the Northern Irish conflict, led by Dr Joe Duffy, Queens University, funded by the British Association of Social Workers and the Northern Ireland Social Care Council. As part of this project he is co-editing a book on this study and international comparisons of social work policy and practice in the filed of social work and political conflict, to be published by Routledge in 2018.

Sarah Donnelly is an Assistant Professor of Social Work in the School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice, University College Dublin where she has worked since 2014. Sarah qualified as a social worker in 1998 and began her social work career as a residential social worker in the North of Ireland before moving on to work as a medical social worker in Tallaght Hospital, Dublin. Sarah has thirteen years of practice experience as a senior social worker in a variety of clinical areas including neurology and age-related healthcare. In 2007, she was seconded to carry out research for Trinity College Dublin/Tallaght Hospital on behalf of the ‘Care and Connect Project’ which examined Care Planning Meetings with older people with cognitive/communication difficulties.

Sarah is the national social work representative on the HSE's Health and Social Care Professional’s Research Advisory Group, chairperson and founder of the Irish Association of Social Workers (IASW) Practitioner Research Special Interest Group and a member of the IASW Special Interest Group on Ageing. Sarah’s areas of research interest are ageing, dementia, adult safeguarding, capacity and decision-making and care planning meetings.

Áine Flynn graduated in law from Trinity College Dublin and completed a research Masters in criminology and criminal justice policy. She was admitted as a solicitor in 1999 and from 2012-2017 was a senior partner in KOD Lyons, a firm specialising in public interest law, including disability and equality law. She was on the panel of legal representatives of the Mental Health Commission and the Mental Health (Criminal Law) Review Board from their inception in 2006 and also represented Wards of Court instructed by the General Solicitor. She has written and lectured on Human Rights and has been a member of the Human Rights Committee of the Law Society since 2012.  Prior to her present appointment, she was a member of the Law Society’s Mental Health and Decision-Making Capacity Task Force.

In October 2017, Áine commenced in post as Director of the Decision Support Service within the Mental Health Commission and is now a member of the National Safeguarding Committee.

Senator Colette Kelleher has been working for the past three decades to advance the rights and supports for children and young people, people who are homeless, people with disabilities and dementia in Ireland and the UK. She held Chief Executive roles at Alzheimer Society of Ireland, Cope Foundation, Cork Simon Community and Daycare Trust. Colette was an adviser to Margaret Hodge MP and was reappointed to the Seanad by An Taoiseach in May 2016.

Colette attended the University of Southampton and UCC and holds a Bachelor of Social Science, a CQSW and an MBA. Colette recently became a Practioner in Change and Consulting at the Tavistock Institute.

Colette lives in Cork City and is married with two grown up children. She is a recent convert to the gym and healthy living.

Siobhan Nunn is the Principal Social Worker in the HSE Safeguarding and Protection Team in CHO7 covering Kildare, West Wicklow, South and West Dublin. On graduating from UCD with a Social Science Degree, Siobhan worked in the UK and attended Goldsmiths College, University of London where she gained a CQSW Social Work Qualification in 1991. In 1998 Siobhan obtained an MSc in Transformational Management at Buckingham University.

Siobhan worked in the London Borough of Ealing and Somerset Social Services between 1991 and 2006, gaining experience in Child Protection, Respite Care for Children with Disabilities, Adult Disability services, Older People and Mental Health, and Adult Protection services. On returning to Ireland she worked at IT Carlow as Head of Student Services, before moving to St James Hospital as the Head Medical Social Worker in 2010. Siobhan has managed multi-disciplinary teams throughout her career and while in St James’s become Head of Allied Health and Social Care Services.

Siobhan represents the Safeguarding and Protection Principal Social Workers on the National Safeguarding Committee.

She represents the National Safeguarding Committee on the HSE Review of the Safeguarding Vulnerable Persons Policy.

Patricia Rickard-Clarke is a solicitor and former Commissioner of the Law Reform Commission.  She is the Chair of the National Safeguarding Committee, Chair of SAGE Advocacy clg - Support and Advocacy Service for Vulnerable adults and Older People and Chair of the Law Society’s Mental Health and Decision-Making Capacity Task Force.  She is a member of the HSE’s National Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act Steering Group preparing for the implementation of the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 and a member of the National Disability Authority’s Expert Group developing the non-health care codes of practice for the 2015 Act.  Over the years she has collaborated with the National Centre for the Protection of Older People at UCD.