Dawn Whitaker - Independent Social Worker


Dawn Whitaker completed a Bsc (hons) Psychology degree (1997) prior to beginning her social work career; this laid the foundation for her current interest in health and social care services. In 1998, Dawn began working for the independent sector as a community spinal injuries respite carer and subsequently, spent time working as a locum auxiliary nurse across a variety of medical wards and later as a nursing assistant across a number of residential nursing homes and mental health units. Dawn later built upon this experience within the statutory setting, by working with the Social Services Children and Family Support Service for children with disabilities, an experience then strengthened during her employment within the Women's Aid domestic violence support organisation. This led to the development of a good working knowledge of relevant community care legislation and associated individual and carer(s) rights.

Subsequently Dawn completed a Post Graduate DipSW with an associated MA in Applied Social Science; she obtained a '1st with distinction' and her Masters thesis was published. Post qualification, Dawn worked for five years within secondary community mental health services with people who experience severe and enduring mental health problems. During this time, Dawn completed additional training and qualified as an ASW (now Approved Mental Health Practitioner (AMHP). In doing so, Dawn managed a large and varied caseload, carrying out the function of care co-ordinator, to deliver a range of services in accordance with the Care Programme Approach. Dawn is comfortable working as an effective and valued member of multidisciplinary teams and has substantial experience of conducting both individual and joint assessments, co-working with others and taking on legislative responsibility as an Approved Mental Health Professional (AMPH) under the Mental Health Act 1983 including MHRT appeal procedures and the AMPH rota.

Dawn was later employed by the Learning and Development department of a large Local Authority as the Mental Capacity Act (MCA) training officer.  In doing so, Dawn worked to develop and establish creative and innovative, tailored learning and development solutions to enable staff to both understand and work in accordance with the Mental Capacity Act and Code of Practice. 

Dawn was recently employed as the Mental Capacity Act Implementation Lead for a large Health Trust, and was responsible for the implementation of the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards in the response to the 2007 Mental Health Act amendment to the Mental Capacity Act.

As MCA lead, Dawn worked both opertationally and strategically in order to respond to changes in legislation and policy that affect people subject to provision under the Mental Capacity Act, Mental Health Act and associated legislation.  In doing so, Dawn developed an up to date knowledge of the mental health legislative framework including developing case law, and Department of Health implementation initiatives including CSIP, as well as AMHP practice.

Dawn also works at Lancaster University as a part-time teaching fellow and has been responsible for convening 'Mental Health Social Work', 'Disability in Society', 'Aging and the Life Course' and 'Preparation for Practice' modules on both the Bachelor (BA) and Masters (MA) social work degree programmes. 

In addition, Dawn is currently contracted as a teaching fellow at Manchester Metropolitan University to deliver mental health social work awareness to childcare social workers.  Dawn is also involved in working with Manchester Metropolitan regarding research related to 'planning ahead for the future' under the Mental Capacity Act 2005. 

Dawn is at ease using her knowledge, experience and organisational and communication skills to chair meetings, give presentations, deliver training, undertake complex statutory assessments, attend legal hearings and write statutory reports using a range of media and information technology as necessary.

Dawn is committed to anti-discriminatory practice throughout all aspects of her work.  Her sound knowledge of the Mental Health Act (1983/2007), the Mental Capacity Act, Human Rights Act and associated Community Care Legislation, ensures that she is committed to achieving outcomes that follow the individual's best interests and the least restrictive alternative.

Dawn has worked through Personal Care Consultants since January 2009; and during this time has provided evidence to the Courts in numerous cases relating to mental health, learning disability, safeguarding adults and Judicial Review matters.  Dawn has provided independent Best Interests reports as an Independent Social Worker (ISW) in Declaratory Relief and Personal Welfare proceedings in the High Court/Court of Protection instructed through the Official Solicitor, mainly as a single joint expert, and singly by others.

Dawn has completed the Best Interests Assessor's Award at Manchester University and continues to work as an Independent Best Interests Assessor.