“Good Choice, Bad Choice, My Choice” – Adult Safeguarding Conference for South East held in Kilkenny

To coincide with Adult Safeguarding Day on the 10th November 2023, the HSE Safeguarding Committee in the South East, the ALONE organisation and the School of Applied Social Studies in University College Cork hosted a conference entitled “Good Choice, Bad Choice, My Choice – Practice Dilemmas in Current Adult Safeguarding”.

Adult Safeguarding Day is an annual initiative of Safeguarding Ireland, supported by the HSE. It is now in its third year and is coordinated in partnership with organisations across the health, social, financial, and justice sectors.

Held in Kilkenny’s Ormonde Hotel and with some 200 delegates in attendance, the conference was addressed by a range of national and international experts drawn from academic, advocacy and service provider organisations.

Grace Rothwell (Chief Officer, HSE/South East Community Healthcare) gave the opening address at the conference, in which she said:

“Abuse thrives only in silence. One of the key learnings from the recently published Emily Report, is that we must all take responsibility to be aware that abuse can happen to vulnerable adults, to recognise when it is happening and to believe and support vulnerable adults when they disclose that abuse may be happening to them.” 

“I would like to thank everyone here for the part that you all play in recognising and reporting adult abuse and I would like to encourage you all to contact the local South East HSE safeguarding team on our Freephone number 0818 101 101, if you are ever concerned that a vulnerable adult is experiencing abuse. Events like today cast a spotlight on the area of adult abuse and is a call to action for all of us working with adults to know how to recognise, respond to and report adult abuse”.

In the morning session at the conference, Rob O’ Connor (Principal Social Worker with the HSE Safeguarding team in the South East) focused on the current challenges in safeguarding practice. Dr Jennifer Storey from the University of Kent gave an international perspective on risk assessment and the management of abuse. Aine Flynn (Director of the Decision Support Service) provided an update on the implementation of the Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act 2015, which fully commenced in April of 2023. Joanne Ralston (Barrister at Law and lecturer in University College Cork) closed the morning session with a thought provoking presentation on the paradigm shift of moving from a best interests approach to a will and preference one.

Micheál Walsh from the National Advocacy Service began the afternoon session and talked about the important role that independent advocacy plays in relation to safeguarding. The next speaker was Edel Quinn (HSE Head of Disability Services in the North West), who gave an important presentation on safeguarding practices from a disability perspective. Nicky Brennan (former President of the GAA and presenter with Community Radio Kilkenny City) then interviewed Lola Fitzgibbon (Services Manager with ALONE, as well as a volunteer and service user) on the impact of the ALONE charity throughout the South East region.  

As a guide to protecting your financial wellbeing, in there context of fraudulent scams specifically targeting older people, the conference was given a presentation from Ross Moore of Bank of Ireland. The final speakers of the day were Teresa Cronin from the HSE National Safeguarding Office and Paula Lane from South East Technical University (SETU), who both talked about the important role that nursing plays in the safeguarding vulnerable adults.

Professor Eleanor Bantry White from the Department of Applied Social Studies in University College Cork closed the conference, remarking: 

“This has been a vibrant and important day to highlight the complex issues in adult safeguarding, bringing together service providers, communities, social workers, researchers to talk about best practice, and opportunities to improve the lives of adults in need of safeguarding services.”

Last updated on: 15 / 11 / 2023