SINCE THE LAST spring seminar, there have been two one-day seminars held for the membership on key planks of the current year’s business plan. The seminar held in July, jointly with SCIE, offered an opportunity to feed into the response to the draft regulations and guidance for the Care Act. There has been huge engagement across the association, and with support from a number of associates, to drill down into implementation issues and this made for a strong ADASS response to the consultation. In the afternoon an early iteration of the thinking on Commissioning for Better Outcomes was presented and discussed. The finished version will be presented at the NCAS conference in Manchester.
The second seminar in September concentrated on `Managing the Money’ and highlighted the findings of the LGA Social Care Efficiency Programme featuring myriad initiatives from councils across the country. Lord Michael Bichard, who was one of the Barker commissioners, presented findings and opened a debate on the future of health and social care. 
This programme of seminars offers the chance for people to explore the issues that are top of all our priority lists. The presentations from these seminars are available on the ADASS website at . The next one will take place on January 9 2015 when SCIE will open a conversation about improvement for commissioners and providers.
On other policy issues our policy officer Jonathan Gardam has worked hard to support the publication in July of the annual budget and procurement surveys. The findings are never more relevant than now and set the backdrop against which every council is commissioning and delivering. The publication of the personalisation survey followed in September, undertaken by the network in partnership with TLAP to give an updated and thorough position statement. The Supreme Court ruling on DoLS in March has generated a significant push to ascertain the implications of the widened remit for ensuring that the liberty of the most vulnerable is protected. This work is ongoing and the ADASS-led Taskforce will provide leadership and guidance on a subject that is concentrating our collective minds.
On the public facing aspects, David Pearson has spoken at more than 20 conferences and given 40 media interviews since April, including taking part in the hour long Radio 5 Live Investigates which was devoted to social care in September. Drew Clode manages and facilitates all these requests smoothly, works with the President to put across ADASS positions, tweets assiduously and then re-tweets.  Alongside this he has linked with Sarah Norman and Stephen Sloss to take the website project forward to the next stage with our sponsors and partners OLM. 
The fruits of Amanda Fry’s labours over recent weeks and months will be evident this week in Manchester. It really is a major task to bring this conference together and Amanda has done so with energy and skill, this year ably supported by new colleagues in North Yorkshire, Louise Heaps and Kate Groves as well as Dani Reeves who continues to cover the input to the website and the technical aspects.
Andriana Delevich has covered a huge volume of work in the office and has anchored the administration while Catherine Cunningham went on maternity leave – her new daughter was safely born in June – and we welcomed Kika Charalambous to cover Catherine’s part-time post. 
On a personal note, this will be my last (of 14) NCAS conferences before I retire at the end of the year. It has been quite something to be an integral part of the Association for so long, working closely with such talented and committed people towards the same ends. Recruitment for the new chief operating officer and business support manager is underway and I am preparing to hand over the baton to them for the next leg of the ADASS journey. There will be no shortage of challenges up ahead, but the resolution to respond to these and the company along the way, will be second to none.
Mary Gillingham
ADASS Business Manager