Remarks delivered 09.00 AM, Tuesday 30 April, 2019
Thank you, Glen.
Good morning, colleagues. I want to start by saying how privileged I am to be addressing you as the President of ADASS and this morning I will be giving thanks; Saying something about me; talking about what I feel are the current issues that face us, and, talk about the future.
My thanks start with Glen the immediate past President who I want to thank for his kindness and generosity to me.
For ADASS he’s been very keen to keep the membership advised of how his time has been spent through his weekly updates and I know these have been very appreciated.
Glen has also been very present (which is a new term that I’m learning) at meetings with partners, stakeholders, Ministers and always putting forward the adult social care contribution and agenda.
Thank you, Glen, you’re a hard act to follow.
In fact, generosity is a bit of a theme and my thanks, to my Council its Leader, Cllr Jamieson and my Portfolio Holders Cllrs Hegley, Ghent and Spurr, to my Chief Executive, Richard Carr, my corporate colleagues, my management team and especially my PA, Jane who are all supporting me through my vice presidency and this year as President. I should also mention my partner the chauffeur– Alan. Without their collective support I wouldn’t be here today.
Colleagues, I know that I follow in some very big foot steps in terms of the calibre of past Presidents of ADASS and I’ve been in awe of many in my 15 years as a DASS.
What I’ve found is how supportive ADASS members are I have had my challenges over the years (sudden and difficult care home closures, serious case reviews) and the highs – talking with social workers about the difference they are helping to make, and, of course meeting her Majesty the Queen when she opened our Independent Living Scheme for older people, and I knew I could always rely on the support and guidance from colleagues and this continues to day.
We also have a fabulous central ADASS team led by Cathie and together ADASS with its Members is a force to be reckoned with.
You may be wondering who I am - well I’m the daughter of a Barnsley miner who was born with what were seen as limiting physical disabilities and it was suggested that I should go to a Special School - to which my mum said “there’s nowt wrong with her head” - colleagues might choose to differ with that assessment!
I went on to Barnsley Girls High School and then University being the first in my family to do so, of course in those days there weren’t tuition fees! It was really at University where I became involved with what in those days, we termed community action.
I volunteered at Women’s Aid and took a sabbatical post to lead the Students Community Action Group for a year. I’ve seen hardship and disadvantage first hand and its helped to make me who I am.
I come to work, like you do, determined to make a difference and help improve the lives of people so that people can have choice and control over their own lives.
I constantly ask myself and my colleagues. - how well are we doing this? People matter to me.
I qualified as a social worker in 1985 at Hull University and I’ve had the opportunity to learn in the great Councils of Humberside, Northumberland, Wirral, North East Lincolnshire and now, of course, Central Bedfordshire.
I would like to pay tribute to those colleagues over the years where I had such great opportunities whether it was implementing the Children’s Act, Community care Act, creating care trusts, bringing in the Care Act, Homelessness Reduction Act - I can honestly say there’s never been a dull moment. It’s been exciting and filled with opportunities to make a difference.
Through my experience I’ve come to appreciate how well social care fits with Councils. We shouldn’t be defined through our relationship with the acute health interface which may well miss the wider focus on wellbeing and the work of housing, leisure, public health and planners who all help to define and design the places that we live in.
I think we need to work hard to maintain this wider Council relationship and nurture it.
Current Social Care Agenda
If I think about the current agenda for adult social care, after a decade of austerity, and where do we find ourselves - serving fewer people, with a fragile care market, a fragile workforce with no national workforce strategy, unsustainable funding without a settlement but increasingly reliant on one - off grant funding, without a Green Paper providing our future strategic direction, with other partners trying to set the adult social care agenda.
I’ve been reflecting on NCASC last year and the challenge from people with lived experience who ran the SocialCareFuture conference alongside and I think it’s a proper challenge about being clear about the state of the current social care system who it’s for. I will come back to that later.
If we add into this context - the impact of the welfare reforms, issues of homelessness and rough sleeping and their impacts on people’s wellbeing.
There’s so much evidence isn’t there - the State of Care Reports from the Care Quality Commission telling us that we’re reaching the tipping point and then some areas have tipped.
The work from the National Audit Office about workforce and the lack of a national approach. The rise in mental illness and compulsory admissions to hospital.
The rise in the number of women, particularly in their fifties, struggling to care and work and giving up their employment – highlighted by Carers’ UK.
The work of Age UK and the Alzheimer’s Society on loneliness and unmet need. The numbers of rough sleepers and families living in temporary accommodation.
Our own annual budget and snap surveys that you all contribute to and show the impact of policy on practice. You could think that there’s no cause for optimism.
But colleagues think about what you’re achieving. Despite the constraints, we have a very skilled, committed workforce that come to work every day to improve people’s lives - even if they aren’t remunerated as they should be.
The very significant improvements around Delayed Transfers of Care - so people aren’t staying in hospital longer than they did - isn’t that great for people?
I’m impressed by what colleagues have achieved with limited resources around prevention and moving to asset/strength-based community approaches and we will see much of this over the next couple of days.
How we responded to the market exit of big national providers of care homes and home care and local ones over the years - protecting vulnerable people and ensuring continuity of their care.
We are now beginning to see the relationship with Housing as important as with the health interface - well I am! An area that we need to build upon because people live in places.
In the absence of the Green Paper I would encourage colleagues nationally and locally to focus on Housing and Accommodation – – lifetime homes, homes for people with care and support needs and their carers or PAs, a safe home for people who have been in an abusive relationship, just a roof over your head for some people.
Are you confident that Councils in their Local Plans are focusing on the right type of housing for their current and future populations? Across all tenures we need people to be living in accommodation that meets their changing needs.
It takes time and evidence to influence Local Plans but if we could have a better offer for older people so that they moved from their large houses –think about the impact this would have, and I don’t just mean people living in social housing – as I said across all tenures.
I would encourage you to be talking with your housing colleagues and experts such as the Housing LIN.
Plus, think about our sector led improvement work which is really good and again, something to continue to build upon.
We will hear more at this Seminar - as we continue to strive to be the best that we can with the resources that we have.
So what about the future? In my view there are 3 strands to this all based on our ADASS values and beliefs: the leadership of adult social care; the regional sector led improvement and support offer; and, speaking the truth to say the uncomfortable and challenging -not for us- but for others to hear
The work around Next Generation for ADASS recognises that our Members value the support that is offered but want to see ADASS as a key influencer especially in the Policy arena.
We are a very credible advocate for social care and recognised as experts and leaders. Therefore, we’re increasing the capacity of the central team and in our regions.
There seem to me to be a number of big unanswered questions that we need to ask or continue to ask? I will do so and I encourage you to too. And we need to fill in the answers too.
Where is the Green Paper? It feels as though the future of social care is being determined through the Plans of others
About our workforce and I intend to continue with Glen’s priority
Why isn’t all of the adult social care workforce salaried? Do we really expect colleagues to try and bring up a family on current levels of pay in housing that’s unaffordable?
Why isn’t there a national workforce strategy? How can we be confident that there will be care workers to care for us when we’re older? Is our workforce held in the same esteem as that of the NHS - if not, why not?
There are over 1.4million colleagues working in social care – are we shouting loud enough?
Last month on World Social Work Day I met with some of my colleagues who were really happy to celebrate the day and wanted to tell me about how complex people’s lives are and, more worryingly, how complex the system is that they operate within – that’s certainly concerning and needs to drive us forward.
Why isn’t there a national agreement about how adult social care is to be funded so that it’s sustainable? What do we say to people in vulnerable circumstance and their carers and families who are worried about the national reports about the crisis in adult social care? How can we sustain quality in care and reassure people– wouldn’t you be worried about the coverage of failing providers in the Press?
Without certainty of funding - what will our offer be to adults who might need help towards employment and independent living?
Sustainability and Transformation
Where are we going with the integration of health and care agenda? Who’s really deciding this? Our value base means that we try to do the right thing for individuals, families and communities.
For example - reducing DToCs was a real success but we knew and said that a singular focus wouldn’t be a fix for systems – we have done that and hospitals are still struggling. We know what will make it sustainable in extremely challenging circumstances – our biggest ask from the Long-Term Plan was a shift to primary and community services.
Our biggest ask was answered and now we need to work with our STPs and ICSs to keep the plan honest, to keep social care and the social model and our values high on the agenda alongside good medical, and nursing care, along with therapies, in the community, helping people stay well for longer with fewer emergency admissions to hospital.
My challenge to us -is that we need to stand in this space and continue to provide the leadership and influence to move this agenda forward.
We saw the LGA put forward a proposal for a Green Paper and I think we need to follow this lead by proposing solutions around workforce, for instance.
We can do this – as I said earlier we have taken a few months to develop Next Generation to determine how to maximise our potential and we have strong regions and a strong central ADASS team, to really, I think the saying is punch above our weight!
Finally, I want to challenge us in this room - what do we think about adult social care? Do we think that our current model is going to last for the next 5, 10 years or generation? Is it what you would want for you and for your families?
Are we truly embracing technology and digitisation, in how our workforce operates and how care is delivered?
A silly example perhaps but why can I book a weekend break from my sofa but not respite care. Why can’t people self-serve/manage their own support?
Do we really think that we know best about what is important to people/what matters to them? I think we really need to challenge our thinking.
I am not for one moment apologising for adult social care. I know that every one of the 1.4m colleagues make a difference to people’s lives all day every day – my question is how can this be improved upon or even transformed as well as supporting our members and highlighting the very real impact that austerity has on people.
My ask of you as President - is will you work with me, with older and disabled people in your areas, with carers, with our workforce, with the emerging social movement SOCIALCAREFUTURE to think about an ambitious future as well as deal with the reality of the now
My priorities in my Presidential year are those of ADASS – the care we want, sustainable and transformed health and care systems, social justice.
I know they have to be underpinned, each of them, by work on resources, workforce and digital. I will have a special interest in the workforce, housing and the future approach around adult social care.
So colleagues, my ambition as your President is to continue to make a difference, to help to transform people’s lives, and I am determined to serve you as best I can and hope to meet you to thank you for your excellent work.