President Day & Panorama Somerset

These past two weeks have been filled with meetings, speeches and conferences, frequent travels to meet old and new friends. All in all, there is a common thread that united all these activities: a strenuous and overwhelming will to challenge the current system and think about how to transform it. To say this is heartening is to say the least.

And of course ADASS is on the same page. On Monday, as you can see from the picture above, I had the chance to see and connect with my colleagues in London, meeting for President’s Away Day (all present or mostly, with Brian’s voice towering from the room’s inbuilt speakers).

We had very encouraging conversations and we covered a wide range of issues, planning for this year and the next couple, discussed how to better engage with our members and policy leads whilst implementing our Business Plan and Next Generation deliverables and addressing the issue of equality and diversity at all ADASS levels. We also focused on how to best to tell our story, how to raise awareness of adult social care, continue to engage with a wide range of working groups, liaison with key stakeholders – and connect with broader audiences.

History says people want to feel deeply connected to one’s values and objectives before getting involved - we need everyone to see that these are issues for all of us. I think this will be very important for us this year we need to have MPs, colleagues, journalists and individuals across the country connect with social care issues – understanding the challenges and equally important the very positive outcomes for people who need our support.

And I think we’ve already begun!
I was pleased to join a preview of the Crisis in Care Panorama at the BBC on Monday evening. This project has been over 18 months in the making and was conceived by David Pearson and Alison Holt and filmed over 10 months. Stephen Chandler, the DASS in Somerset, helped to steer it through locally and beyond. The first of two episodes will be broadcast on Wednesday 29th May at 9 pm on BBC1. It’s a powerful and touching insight into the struggles and difficult decisions faced by Councils and people who need care, their families and their carers equally. It’s a brave and sensitive piece of work. I applaud everyone in Somerset for their courage and the film-makers for their unique portrayal – what comes across is that it isn’t just a Somerset story; it’s a national one that all councils are facing. There is a second episode in the following week and we need to use this work nationally and locally to help us explain what social care is and does currently, and, what our aspirations are for the future. We are of course committed to working with people with lived experience and their families both nationally and locally to transform our offer.

I am impressed by everyone’s commitment to helping with the public debate about adult social care. I would also like to thank the ADASS Trustees for helping me with the President’s role and standing in for me and my colleagues at Central Bedfordshire who are seeing much less of me! Let’s hope for good weather over the Bank Holiday.