President's Blog
March 2011

Outgoing President Richard Jones writes

Finishing lines are often a welcome sight - particularly if you have been in a long race. For ADASS Presidents handing over should not be a finishing line experience: we are not the long distance runner out on their own, but leading a team and an Association. Its about passing on the baton so the next leg can be run.

The year has been about setting out a stall based on 3 key shifts which I spoke about at Brighton and have run through our work over the last 12 months .Those shifts are about working with people as citizens, engaging with communities and prevention and wellbeing, and building capacity through alignment of energy, effort, and resource across the public, private, and community sectors.

Part of our task has been to build and develop confidence and trust with a new coalition government and position our offer in a way which links with the huge change in style we are experiencing. Part has also been about taking the lead as we move away from top down approaches to build new energy and direction into sector-wide partnerships through the Think Local, Act Personal agreement and Partnership. This will now hold the ring around how we develop, implement and influence national policy.

A focus has also been needed on supporting policy networks and regional arrangements whilst at the same time moving to a commissioning focus to ensure we can respond swiftly to external change. The development of short life work streams has served us well in relation to the development of Think Local Act Personal, sector-based improvement, the Dilnot Commission, the challenge of managing with reducing resources, health reform and the public health agenda and community capacity.

Handing on a baton is easy when the person you pass onto has so much to offer. ADASS is in a great position to face the future in a positive position  as we deliver the shifts we believe in, despite the magnitude of the financial and system challenges. Peter as our new President brings significant experience and a great set of strategic and personal skills and capacity to the  role  and without a shadow of doubt will hit the ground running, which is just as well as we, together, have the next leg to run. It will be run well and courageously by Peter with all our support.

Richard Jones,
ADASS President

Incoming President Peter Hay writes.

Richard's presidential address at the start of his year promised that ADASS would open new spaces in the debate about care. Richards personal style and commitment have taken this into conversations with a new government and different players. ADASS has continued to exert a strong presence as the voice of leadership in social care, whilst placing new emphasis on the importance of sector wide roles.

As Richard passes on the baton, the messages from ADASS stay the same, although we are entering a different stage in the conversation. Richards bold recognition a year ago that the system of social care was unsustainable is all the more true today. The reality of reduced public spending means that the sector is moving quickly to recognise greater spending by individuals and to harness the power of communities. In many places we are seeing new models of prevention, integration with health, and a real focus on a new universal or community way of working. No one should doubt the imagination and energy that ADASS can bring to new challenges. We have spent time developing ways of approaching the budget challenge, huge numbers of councils have moved to adopt Health and Wellbeing Boards as the local centre of NHS reforms and we are moving apace on individual budgets.

Its a testing time to be a Director. We are developing new models at speed, with one eye on budget bottom lines and another on the implications of a range of public spending reductions on people and communities. As the reality of reductions break, we find ourselves challenged on the decisions we have made to implement the reductions required. The strength of the ADASS voice comes from its offer to its members. Out of sight, Richard has paid attention to internal structures and to galvanising the immense contribution that many Directors and senior staff give to the Association.

The sector now has opportunities facing it as a result of Richards determination to make `sector-led more than just a conversation within local government. ADASS will continue to develop shared approaches to taking forward both Think Local, Act Personal and the concept of sector-led performance.

Ahead lies the emergence of the work of the Dilnot Commission, the promised approach to legal reform, the NHS reforms and as always, the unexpected. As the Governments legitimate deficit reduction focus lands on the ground of our work, we will need to build on skilful ways to manage new conversations if we are to adjust systems and behaviours in response.

Richard hands on a strong Association that is facing up to the challenges. Its a privilege to take on the role from Richard, who continues the pattern of strong and imaginative ADASS Presidents. I am committed, along with our members, to taking forward the conversations in the spaces that have been created so that we see the emergence of a new sustainable future social care offer alongside a service that works for people with the urgency of need now.

Peter Hay,