Greyer skies today in Staffordshire for day two, but certainly no lack of colour to the programme on this second day of the ADASS Spring Seminar, with a choice of over a dozen separate workshops available for delegates to attend.

It was an early start for those attending the breakfast workshop on ‘collaboration and culture change’, for the brave DASS spotted blowing out the cobwebs with a bracing morning run or for several members busily networking over breakfast. 

For ADASS members, the first gathering of the day was for the ADASS Annual General Meeting. This was a closed session which covered a major policy issue (simply entitled ‘Money’), heard testimony from present and past Executive council members on the benefits of leadership roles within ADASS and dealt with ADASS business.

Of course, the main business of the day was the handover of the Presidency from Ray James to Harold Bodmer and Harold kicked-off his term with his maiden presidential speech. 

After proposing a vote of thanks for Ray for is work in the last year, Harold took us through a brief history of ADASS, stressing the long-lived nature of many of the themes we grapple with and highlighting where progress has been made.

He clearly outlined his current personal priorities: funding, integration, social work as a valued profession, market sustainability and engaging in the new carers strategy. These will help shape the ADASS workplan over the next year and chime with much that has been said by others this week.

Harold concluded with a little personal history, of training as a Social Worker in apartheid South Africa, which gave us all a sense of perspective, concluding a very well received opening speech.

After a break, workshops were held on a range of topics. To give a flavour;

A workshop on devolution and integration heard from experiences in Sheffield, Hertfordshire and Oxfordshire. Some key issues were raised such as the need to work more closely across the health and social care sectors, strong leadership and initiatives need to be locally lead rather than top down.

A session on the evaluation of the Making Safeguarding Personal (MSP) initiative revealed some of the barriers to delivering a genuinely personalised approach to safeguarding which was timely with the upcoming MSP temperature check work which some members will be involved in. We were again reminded, as Harold had said – that we must avoid reacting to financial pressures by simply entrenching into process. A mature approach to personalisation is a pre-requisite of MSP.

On the topic of workforce we were reminded that, amongst the gloom we need to be bold and courageous in supporting new behaviours. Social care is about assets not deficits – is it time to celebrate not commiserate?

After lunch, a wide selection of sponsored workshops were well attended, and offered potential solutions to issues across social care.

The afternoon plenary session was devoted to ‘Conversations with Health’ and began when Sam Jones promised, and delivered, a jargon-free run through of the New Models of Care being delivered by the Vanguard areas and we heard about several initiatives which are making a difference right now (see #futureNHS on twitter).

This was followed by a question and answer session on the topic of “what does full integration look like”, chaired by David Brindle of the Guardian. He introduced the panel of Dame Moira Gibb (Skills for Care), Saffron Cordery (NHS Providers) and Phil McCarvill (NHS Confed) in inimitable style.

Although none of the panel claimed to have all the answers and acknowledged that the answer would be ‘massively complex’, we were reminded of the many factors which will need to be in place to make a success of integrated care.

All speakers stressed the importance of concentrating on the individual and not the system – a key would be to keep some excitement about the opportunities under the welter of legislation and structure around integration. Again we heard that what matters to people is not just a ‘nice-to-do’ but key in delivering integrated services which meet people’s needs.

Questions were posed about the ‘musical chairs’ of NHS restructure. Does integration need to be broader than just with the NHS?

After an intellectually stimulating day – it was time for delegates to consider their own health and wellbeing whether that was at the annual tennis tournament (congratulations to Mssrs Hill and Mills on their victory), in the gym, or pounding the streets. What better way to build up an appetite for the Annual Dinner of the Association?

Despite the inevitably late night for some, we are looking forward to tomorrow, and a real international flavour to the programme as the conference draws to a close.