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Dawn Whitaker

Research student

Lancaster University

Bowland North



Research overview

Most recent publication: Developing Skills for Social Work Practice  

My research interests reflect three main themes:

Human rights, and rights-based social work practice.

Generating new and innovative approaches to safeguarding adults.  

Critical perspectives on mental distress, neurodiversity and mad studies.

Career Details

Director of Studies for MA Social Work and Registered Independent Social Worker:

Professional Registration: Health and Care Professions Council Registration number: SW64905

Membership of the British Association of Social Work

I worked for Lancashire County Council as a mental health social worker for many years, before joining their training department to deliver teaching on the Mental Capacity Act 2005. In 2008, I joined the NHS as a locality Mental Capacity Act implementation lead, with particular responsibility for implementing the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) across NHS Central Lancashire. 


Before joining the Department as a full time member of staff, I worked for eight years as an associate lecturer in Applied Social Science (now merged with the Department of Sociology).


For the past six years I have worked as an Independent Social Worker. I am regularly instructed as an independent social work witness by the Official Solicitor for the Court of Protection, specifically in cases where there is a health and social care dispute, or an adult is deemed to be ‘at risk’ requiring ‘safeguarding’.


I continue to undertake work as an ISW, and have been involved in a number of high-profile, landmark cases such as Cheshire West [Cheshire West and Chester Council v P (2011) EWHC 1330 (COP)] (see my 'projects' tab for more information).

Current Teaching

I convene and teach one BA module:

Swk.378 Mental Distress and Health

I also contribute to the BA Part Ones: Swk.116 Contemporary Social Problems & Swk.115 Social Work Practice


I convene and teach two MA modules:

Swk.425 Mental Distress and Health

Swk.438 Academic Practice Seminars



I convene one CPD course / module on the Advanced MA in Social Work: Social and biographical approaches to working with people who hear voices – a lived-experience perspective

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