Greyer skies this morning in Staffordshire for day two, but no lack of colour to the programme on this second day of the ADASS Spring Seminar, with a diverse range of topics for delegates to explore.

The morning commenced with a talk by Sir James Mumby, President of the Family Division of the High Court. This was a rare opportunity to hear the personal reflections of a leading judge and the theme of the need for managed risk-taking to ensure the wellbeing of people was illustrated with some thought-provoking examples. The rightful place of happiness at the top of the hierarchy of needs, not an afterthought was thoughtfully and passionately made.

For ADASS members, the next gathering of the day was for the ADASS Annual General Meeting. This was a closed session which covered with general business of the Association but also contained a lively session around integration and pressures across the care sector.

The main business of day two is normally the handover of the Presidency as symbolised by the passing of the chain of office, but this year it was preceded by a minutes’ heartfelt applause for Harold Bodmer, our President, who sadly passed away last summer. Those gathered rose as one to their feet in fitting tribute to the man, in the very place where he delivered such a memorable presidential speech the year before.

After acknowledging that she had a tough act to follow, Margaret Willcox took us through her own personal story and outlined what would be her personal priorities for this year: a renewed focus on listening to members, mental health and the role of the AMHP, and employment for disabled people.

After a chance to take in the exhibition stands, workshops were held on a diverse range of topics. Diversity itself was one topic, in a call for LGBT voices in health and social care to be heard. We heard how Making Safeguarding Personal is making a difference across the country and there were further sessions focussing on the role of adult social care in the criminal justice system and housing as well as examples of innovative work in the Learning Disability field.

On the topic of workforce we were reminded that, amongst the gloom and the scale of the challenge, we need to be bold and courageous in embracing new challenges. 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 some  cutting-edge potential solutions to issues across social care.

The first of the afternoon’s plenary sessions was delivered by Mark Lloyd, LGA Chief Executive under Chatham House rules but those listening took away some clear thoughts about Local Government’s role within communities and the care and support sector.

This was followed by some characteristically entertaining but entirely sharp and lucid insight from Aileen Murphy from the National Audit Office. Rarely do a group of people look so engaged whilst being shown a series of graphs and financial data but a range of issues was hit home by the presentation.

After another intellectually stimulating day, it was time for delegates to consider their own physical health and wellbeing. I had the pleasure of leading out a platoon of delegates on a bracing cross-country run in the evening sunshine (and more importantly, bringing them back!)

What better way to build up an appetite for the Annual Dinner of the Association and an evening of relaxed networking?