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CANCELLED Disability, Sexuality and Relationships - Supporting Service Users to Make Choices

  • Education and Research Centre, Our Lady's Hospice, Harold's Cross
  • 9.30 Registration, Event 10.00 - 4.30
  • 06 May 2016

Price €20 members/€40 non-members plus booking fee

The conference has been jointly organised by the Irish Association of Social Workers, Social Care Ireland and the Association of Occupational Therapists of Ireland.

We're sorry to let you know that this event has been CANCELLED. Refunds have been issued to those registered to attend and we apologise for any inconvenience. 

Price includes lunch and refreshments

PARKING: There is a large car park at the back of the construction site at Our Lady's Hospice. A Security Officer will be available to assist with directed parking on the day from 9am-10am.


Speakers include


  • John Ryan, Principal Social Worker, KARE, 
  • Josephine McLoughlin,
  • Connect People Network & Dr. Michael Feeny  



Background and Context

Knowing how best to vindicate the rights of people with disabilities in relation to sexuality and reproductive health can be a complex matter for many Health and Social Care Professions (HSCP). Domestic and international policy and legislation conflicts while professionals themselves share a wide variety of ethical perspectives in relation to sexuality and reproductive rights. For example, a survey by the National Disability Authority in 2011 found that just 51% of the Irish public believe that people with intellectual disabilities are entitled to have sexual relationships while 38% thought people with intellectual disabilities had a right to have children. The right of all people to sexuality and to sexual and reproductive health is recognised in a range of international conventions and treaties. However, domestic legislation in this area takes a different and conflicting approach, emphasising the protection of people with disabilities and placing severe limits on the kinds of intimate relationships people with intellectual disabilities can have. In addition, many professionals are in the process of familiarising themselves with the HSE Safeguarding Vulnerable Persons at Risk of Abuse Policy and Procedures. The very recent enactment of the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 will further impact on this area bringing with it new responsibilities for many HSCPs.


Conference Aims

A key aim of the conference is to provide HSCPs with the opportunity to consider how organisations can balance the rights and needs of service users with regard to relationships and sexuality and to clarify the policy and legislative contexts for HSCPs and service users with disabilities. The conference aims to provide participants with

  • An increased understanding of needs of the service user group, the needs of their families, and how best to respond to same; increased awareness of the supports available to professions and services to do this work; increased knowledge of how organisational policies and procedures can support the provision of safe and effective services;
  • Information as to how HSCPs can work to reduce the risk of people with disabilities, particularly those with intellectual disabilities, experiencing sexual abuse and/or exploitation;
  • An understanding of how organisational policies and staff training support consistency of approach among HSCPs in residential, community and other service settings.


Benefits to the consumer: clarity and consistency of information about sexuality, intimate relationships and reproduction; reduced risk of sexual abuse and exploitation; increased clarity and consistency about what is sexually appropriate; support from HSCPs to develop individual plans in relation to intimate relationships and sexual expression where needed; support to enjoy intimate relationships.