April 11th 2018

After many months of preparation we have reached that time of year again for the ADASS Spring Seminar. For the 5th year in succession we welcome 300 delegates to the Yarnfield Conference Centre, Stafford. We are holding on to the title of ‘Spring Seminar’, despite the cold and slightly wintery weather.

We would like to thank all those people who have volunteered over the three days of the seminar to Chair, facilitate and deliver presentations, workshops and meetings, ensuring a wide ranging programme to enthuse and challenge delegates.

The morning of day 1 was spent dealing with formal ADASS business before Margaret Wilcox, ADASS President, officially opened the conference after lunch, welcoming delegates and thanking sponsors whose support enables the conference to take place.

The first speaker of the day was Caroline Dinenage, MP, Minister for Social Care, Caroline thanked Margaret for her support since taking up her Ministerial role and also thanked all Directors for their efforts, enthusiasm and dedication in continuing to deliver high quality care during extremely challenging times.

Caroline referenced the importance of the new Department of Health and Social Care title which really emphasises the importance of social care.  Highlighting workforce, carers and communities as priorities in the green paper, she described the need to create a workforce plan to address current and future challenges, the delivery of an action plan for carers and cross government collaboration to address market sustainability, quality and loneliness. She also noted the funding challenges, current and future, and the need for an open discussion with the public about the costs of social care.

Barbara Keeley MP, Shadow Minister for Social Care and Mental Health, was the next speaker to address delegates.  She raised concerns about current funding gap and felt the focus of the Green Paper was too narrow.  Barbara outlined Labour’s approach which would see the introduction of a National Care Service to address individual wellbeing. Financial uncertainty for people needing care would be reduced through the introduction of a maximum financial contribution cap, below the £72k proposed by Andrew Dilnot.  Barbara also discussed proposals for ethical commissioning which rewarded social purpose, an updated national carers strategy, improved terms and conditions and working practices for an undervalued care workforce and an open conversation with the public to understand care costs both now and in the future.

Jon Rouse, Chief Officer, Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership shared his experience of Devolution, noting that integration of health and care was not the primary driver behind Devolution. Health inequalities, preventing the wider population from benefitting from the economic regeneration of Manchester was.  John described a model which was based upon a need to deliver the greatest and fastest possible improvement to the health and wellbeing of greater Manchester.  This has involved a move away from a clinical based model, to one of a combined clinical and social model approach. John explained that what makes the Greater Manchester model unique, in comparison to other STPs, is that it is grounded in local democratic accountability.

Ray James addressed delegates in his new role as National Director for Learning Disabilities at NHSE. This is Ray’s last week as an ADASS Trustee so we thank him for his work and wish him all the best in his new role. Ray reflected upon his reasons for accepting his new role and he spoke about his initial impressions and priorities, following a recent stocktake of progress with the Transforming Care programme.  

Ray played a video of experts by experience, Gavin Harding and Carl Shaw. Gavin and Carl are Learning Disability Advisers at NHS England and they gave some very clear messages about the Transforming Care programme which is now seven years on. We need to get on with it, we need to take a united approach and we need to remember that Transforming Care is not just about bed closures, or in-patient reductions there is lots of other really good work happening as well.

The final plenary session was delivered by Wendy Mitchell, author of ‘Somebody I Used to Know’ which details Helen’s experience of being diagnosed with young onset dementia in 2014 at the age of 58. Helen asked delegates to put themselves into her shoes as being diagnosed with dementia but struggling to find support or services due to her age. Helen’s story is one of personal resilience and strength which left all delegates with a strong message about the changes which are needed.

The evening session continues with breakout sessions, tennis and a quiz. Follow tomorrow’s blog to find out who has won the title of ADASS tennis champ and quiz master.