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Jeremy Cooper

ADASS Spring Seminar: 300+ attendees, 6 clear themes

This week’s sixth annual ADASS Spring Seminar is definitely a highlight of the year so far. Ralph Cook and I were there partly to deliver a workshop, but also to listen and discuss what is really going on in adult social care. As the most concentrated gathering of leaders in adult social care, the tone and topics of discussion are a strong indication of what is going on in the sector.

Our workshop delivered fresh evidence of what is really happening at the health and care interface. We were thrilled the room was packed, the new insight was appreciated, and the discussion was lively. We are delighted that our insights made the front page of The MJ. Ralph explains more in his blogpost.

There were more than 300 adult social care leaders at the seminar. The range of voices, from a wide selection of sector influencers, were different but aligned. Here are six clear themes that ran through the conference:

  1. A national policy vacuum. One highly disputed point was whether the Adult Social Care green paper has been delayed five or six times! There was real consensus that we should not just be waiting for the green paper, or any other national policy, to give us our direction.
  2. A local empowerment resurgence was a direct result of this discussion. The power to shape the future is in our hands. This also gives us, those working at local leadership level in the system, the responsibility to shape the agenda.
  3. A backlash at the over-focus on the NHS. In her Presidential address, Julie made reference to not letting others tell us what good means. Social care does not just exist to ease pressure on the NHS. I believed Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, when he said he isn’t being reductionist when he references the importance of social care for the NHS, but my worry is lots of others are hearing it as reductionist.
  4. An age balance. Adult social care does not start at age 65!
  5. An overdue increase in emphasis on housing, digital and workforce. These are the three rightly important Presidential and ADASS priorities.
  6. The importance of the narrative. The future is ours to define and deliver, but the national and local narrative about social care is really important. We all agreed it needs to be reframed, away from crisis, bed-blocking. Quite how we reframe it between those of us with different sector shaping voices will now be all important!

This was one of the best seminars I’ve been to and I left with lots to think about. Congratulations to ADASS on delivering such a good event – we are looking forward to next year’s seminar already!

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