It is with deep regret and sadness that the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) learned of the recent passing of our much loved former colleague and dear friend, Fionnuala McAndrew OBE.
Fionnuala started her career as a teacher before embarking on a lifetime of service working in Health and Social Care (HSC) in Northern Ireland. She initially lead the Social Care Registration and Inspection Unit in the Southern area before becoming the Assistant Director and ultimately Director of Social Care and Adult Services at the former Southern Health and Social Services Board (SHSSB). She was appointed as the first Director of Social Care and Children at the newly established regional Health and Social Care Board in 2009 where she retired in May 2018 due to ill health.
Long before any legislative requirements or before the plethora of new language about personal and public involvement, engagement, co-production or peer research, Fionnuala’s question always reverberated around the room “Where is the voice of service users or carers in this process or how will they be affected or involved? She was also involved in the formulation, consultation and subsequent adoption of the first Service User Involvement Policy in Health and Social Care for NI. This policy was instrumental in shaping service user engagement and involvement in Northern Ireland and culminated in winning the prestigious Health Service Management Award for Service User Engagement over a decade ago.
Fionnuala was a change leader, the driving force behind the introduction Person Centred Planning whilst working for the SHSSB and was very much involved in user lead services such as Vela Microboards and since her retirement continued to sit as a member of the Board of Vela Microboards for NI.
Fionnuala received an OBE in 2011 for her contribution to social work and achieved a Special Lifetime Achievement award in recognition of her contribution to developing the role and profile of social workers across Northern Ireland. She was influential in setting up the first Social Work Awards event in 2011 and since then social work as a profession has come a long way and is now a profession proud to stand up and celebrate excellence across a whole range of services.
Paying tribute to Fionnuala on behalf of the Board, Martin Quinn, Interim Deputy Director of Social Care and Children said:
”Fionnuala was well regarded and respected across all professions and agencies both statutory and voluntary across NI, Ireland and Internationally.
“Fionnuala was an inspirational and transformational leader and advocate that helped shape the future of social care within Northern Ireland. Her interests extended well beyond the boundaries of social care and she championed the importance of multidisciplinary working whilst promoting the profile of social work within Northern Ireland.
“Fionnuala was driven by a passion of improving the life chances of those who needed support across all areas of life, listening carefully to service users views which translated into the many initiatives she helped shape and deliver.
“She was warm, compassionate, caring, a completely upfront lady and a highly regarded colleague to everyone at the Board, she was an ambassador for all social workers and service users. She was someone who was able to connect in a very personal way with the people she lead even through tough times.”
As Fionnuala’s former colleagues we mourn the loss of one of the great leaders in social care and beyond and our thoughts and prayers are with Fionnuala’s family and many friends at this sad time.