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29 April 2022 IASW Press Release in response to HIQA Overview report of Governance and Safeguarding in HSE Designated Centres for People with Disabilities in Donegal

Irish Association of Social Work Response to HIQA Overview report of Governance and Safeguarding in HSE Designated Centres for People with Disabilities in Donegal in January 2022.

On 16th December 2021, in response to the findings of the Brandon report, the HSE assured the public that dedicated safeguarding resources and procedures are now in place and that ‘very strong processes’ have been introduced to allow staff to escalate safeguarding concerns about people at risk in HSE services. The report published by HIQA today clearly shows that this is not the case.

In the last six months, inspectors found the supervision and governance of disability services from middle and senior management was poor. These weak governance structures were reported to increase the risk of reoccurrence of serious safeguarding failures such as the case identified by HIQA in November 2021 – a case in which a resident with a disability is now facing life changing consequences. 

Multiple other concerns are raised in the HIQA report related to poor processes which impact safeguarding practice. On behalf of the Irish Association of Social Workers, Chairman Vivian Geiran said:

Despite the lessons of Aras Attracta, the Grace case, the Brandon case, and the recent safeguarding failures in CHO1, the fact that the HSE requires the intervention of, and such intensive support from the regulator to bring these serious failings to light is deeply concerning.

As lead expert profession in adult safeguarding, it is clear to the Irish Association of Social Workers that the safeguarding knowledge and expertise required to lead meaningful lasting safeguarding reform is absent at both national and regional level, as is a coherent chain of accountability for safeguarding from national to regional level. The Brandon report highlighted how the HSE ignored safeguarding social work guidance and expertise and the continued absence of social work, the lead profession in adult safeguarding, at senior decision making at strategic and operational level continues to limit HSE safeguarding responses.

People with disabilities in Donegal are living in services in which the HSE repeatedly fail to learn the same lessons and in which the regulator repeatedly flags concerns, without meaningful change or reform.’

As a priority, IASW calls for:

  • Urgent introduction of adult safeguarding legislation with establishment of an independent safeguarding authority in adult safeguarding.
  • A full, independent social care led review of safeguarding practice in CHO1 to understand why multiple attempts to consistently improve practice to date have repeatedly failed.
  • The urgent appointment of an operational and fully accountable Office of Chief Social Worker for Adult Safeguarding, to address the gap in existing expertise at national strategic level and gap in oversight of regional safeguarding practice.
  • Urgent investment in decongregation to allow people with disabilities to lead the lives of their choosing within their local communities.


Vivian Geiran

Chair of IASW

IASW Spokesperson: Sinéad McGarry via office on 086 0241055


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