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Social Workers in Ageing (SIGA) Special Interest Group

Who we are? 

The Irish Association of Social Workers (IASW) Special Interest Group on Ageing (SIGA) provides a professional forum for social workers working with older persons in a variety of settings to promote the highest standards of professional practice while advocating for continuous improvement in service delivery. 

While SIGA members work with older persons, given the nature of healthcare service delivery, our members often also work with adults of all ages across a variety of settings from safeguarding, primary care, medical, rehabilitation, integrated care, hospital, independent social work and residential care services.  Social workers are always welcome at SIGA meetings and we have many retired social workers who continue to contribute their time and knowledge. 

Vision Statement 

Our vision is as SIGA is to support social workers to engage in the highest standards of professional practice with older persons, promote positive ageing, support autonomy and self-determination and contribute towards advocacy efforts for continuous improvement in service delivery for older persons. 

Mission Statement 

SIGA, as a Special Interest Group of IASW, seeks to enable the continuous professional development of social work practice with older persons and represent the needs of older persons from a social work perspective. 

Objectives 

  1. Provide a professional forum for social workers working with older persons to exchange information and support. 
  1. To influence policy, legislation and service delivery via IASW structures. 
  1. To examine opportunities for training/education and involvement in research which will contribute towards the professional development of social work practice.  
  1. To provide advocacy and representation on the needs of older persons from a social work perspective. 

Committee Members 

Deirdre McNally - Chair  

Caroline O’Donoghue - Secretary  

How often meetings take place 

Bi-monthly meetings are held, via Zoom, on the afternoon of the last Tuesday of the month at 2.30pm.  

In between SIGA meetings there is regular email correspondence via the Chair and Secretary, in relation to education/training opportunities, conferences, publications, requests to contribute towards policy submissions and the sharing of resources to support social workers in their practice.  

Current Activities/Plans/Projects 

Currently two SIGA sub-groups: 

  • Self-Neglect – Social workers with an interest in developing supports to assist people with self-neglecting behaviours. SIGA organised two training opportunities with IASW – (1) A Trauma Informed Approach to Self-Neglect and (2) Acceptance Commitment Therapy with a focus on persons who hoard and self-neglect.  
  • ICPOP Integrated Care of Older Persons – Social workers working with ICPOP teams nationally with opportunity to share learning and resources.  

Chair of SIGA is sitting on Home Care Coalition which advocates for improvement in service provision 

Speakers organised for SIGA meetings in 2022 have included: 

  • MAST Meath Multi Agency Safeguarding Team regarding their work with persons who self-neglect and hoard.   
  • Feedback from the IASW Representatives for the Prescribed Class of Professionals Working Group for the Assisted Decision Making Capacity Act 2015 – Dr Sarah Donnelly and Aidan Cooney 

Planned speakers for 2022: 

  • Colletta Dalikeni to talk about the IASW anti-racism strategy and how as social workers we can work to be actively anti-racist in our practice. 
  • Ann Marie Townsend to talk to SIGA about her recent thesis which looked at Social Workers as Human Rights Violators 
  • A member of the Retired Social Workers SIG to talk with SIGA about her experience of now accessing services for older persons.  

How to join 

Please contact administrator@iasw.iewho will put you in contact with SIGA Secretary