Good morning everyone, it’s a pleasure to be back in Bournemouth for the 2019 NCASC conference.

Thank you to Councillor Jamieson and Rachel for their excellent opening remarks. I’m sure that you’ll agree that they are tough acts to follow.

I’d like to extend my thanks to the venue, Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council and of course all of the event sponsors, without whom this event could not happen.  I would also like to record my thanks to Central Bedfordshire Council (who are significant on this stage!) for their support for my Presidency of ADASS.

I’ve been in my role for just over six months now and there certainly hasn’t been a dull moment- Brexit, a change of Prime Minister and now a General Election on the horizon.

The consequence of this? Plans for adult social care reform are very much still stuck in the long-grass.

As ADASS, we have said that it is a burning injustice that this has not been addressed by successive governments.

Social care is important to all of us, both personally and professionally.

Personally important are the stories of thousands and thousands of those of us who are older or disabled or caring for older or disabled family members. Many of us get great care and support to live good lives and die good deaths. Many of us in this room have direct experience right now. Too many of us struggle without, or without enough help though.

And too many of us - social workers, managers and councillors – are having to make invidious decisions to eke out too little to too many people whose needs are increasing.

Austerity has profoundly affected care. There has been a drastic retraction in the range and capacity of services and the number of people supported by them. People with the most intense needs have been prioritised - meaning less resources available to prevent escalating needs in others.

How many more of those people - with a range of support needs, for example people with a learning disability or those struggling with mental ill health or substance misuse or isolated older people - could have been supported to live safely and well at home if £7.7billion of savings in adult social care hadn’t had to be made?

It can’t be right that 600 people per day quit their jobs to care for older or disabled relatives? If the right support was available, I’m certain that this figure would be much lower.

The impact of these savings is also very evident in care markets, where there is a 44% turnover rate for care workers in the homecare sector. These markets are clearly unsustainable in the current environment.

To fully support the transformation of lives that the Care Act intended, we need long-term funding and reform to enable us to build care and support for the millions of us who need it.

We need the links we make with other public services that support individuals, families and communities.  I am determined to work with everyone I can to support all those working in and impacted by social care to use their utmost ingenuity to engage people in the best solutions for us in the short term and argue for long term changes.

And winter has started already - social care is there in emergency situations, such as the recent flooding where staff worked around the clock to ensure that older and disabled people were safe at a time of crisis.

But for those of you that know me, you’ll know I’m a glass half-full person. I prefer to look for the opportunities that the situation presents, rather than the barriers it puts up.  

And even when there are challenges, social care is magnificent.

This time last year – during NCASC at Manchester - one of ADASS’s worst fears was realised – the failure of a major home care provider.

But our regional chairs stood up to the leadership challenge and all of our members bent over backwards to make sure that there was continuity of care for over 9,000 people – many of whom we had not known before as they made their own private arrangements for care.

It’s certainly not all doom and gloom when it comes to adult social care.

We are all privileged to work in a job where we see the difference that social care can make to people’s lives on a daily basis. 

We see how the hard work, knowledge, dedication and skill of our staff transforms the lives of thousands of people. It is what makes us proud to do the jobs we do. 

So what needs to change?

The quick answer is that it is not our legislation – the Care Act is good – it is the short-termism that prevents us from implementing it.

Imagine what we could do if we had a five-year funding settlement, and a clear 10 year national plan for adult social care? To complement the NHS Long Term Plan but so much wider?

That’s precisely what ADASS want the next Government to deliver. But reform should not be delivered in isolation. We must ‘imagine the future’ with people who access care and support, their families and carers. As well as well as organisations such as TLAP and social movements such as Social Care Futures.

We must evolve our thinking to ensure that we maximise the use of technology to enable people the lives they want to lead. But it must also not be a replacement for human contact.

Our ambition for housing needs to be much higher. Housing needs to be more accessible and adaptable, better quality and we need a greater choice of accommodation that suits our evolving needs throughout our lifetime.

If we are fortunate, we live to a good and active old age. If we are lucky, we are able to live the lives we want to lead, whether we are disabled or not, and we are supported to care for our families and neighbours when they need care and support. Our communities are supported to be resilient and inclusive and we get support and safeguards when we are in vulnerable circumstances

We want to reclaim social care and social work.  We all know, adult social care is so much more than helping  people to wash,  dress and eat – essential as they are to keeping us alive.

We want change - real choice, control and access to the care and support we want – a range of high quality services that enable us to live the lives we want to lead.

A reformed system should promote greater social justice and inclusion.

Social Justice as a principle impacts right across all sections of society and all individuals and communities who need social care.

We seek to do this by tackling inequalities and promoting good mental health and the social model of disability. Social care stands side by side with individuals and communities that are most excluded, people needing care and support who are homeless –or who are experiencing domestic abuse.

Because we have become used to only thinking about personal care, this is not the type of support that the public, the media or MPs would naturally associate with adult social care. It makes a difference to all of our lives.  I am pleased that the presidents of ADASS/ADCS/ADPH and ADEPT are working together to demonstrate the value of local government and have agreed that:

Children’s and Adults’ social care need to be properly funded, but not at the expense of other key Local Government services that help create prosperous, independent and resilient communities. It is those preventative well-being and Place based economic growth, infrastructure and environmental services that will prevent demand growing exponentially in our care services in the short, medium and long-term.

Councils can, and do, join these services up at a local level to deliver the improved outcomes for communities.

We need the next Government to match our ambition so that we can deliver real change. 

Let’s continue our determined efforts to make sure 2020 is the year that we finally see real and long-lasting reform that brings us closer to one of ADASS’s core beliefs which is that

A key barometer of a good society is ensuring that every one of us, regardless of our needs and circumstances, has a right to live a purposeful and independent life, as part of cohesive communities, protected from harm and able to access help when we need it.

Good care and support transforms lives. It helps people to live good lives, or the best they can, in a variety of circumstances. It enhances health and wellbeing, increases independence, choice and control. It is distinctive, valued, and personal. 

Thank you for listening and have a good conference.