National Social Care Conference 2021: Sue Revell's highlights

Sue Revell, Strategic Lead – Business Development at Practice Solutions Ltd, reflects on this year’s National Social Care Conference, which took place online, 17 – 18 November.

Sue Revell, Strategic Lead – Business Development

As a bit of background, since 2013 Practice Solutions have managed the work of the Business Unit for the Association of Directors of Social Services, Cymru. As part of this contract, every year an immense amount of work is undertaken by the Practice Solutions Events team to manage and coordinate the delivery of the ADSS Cymru National Social Care Conference.

In this first installment, Sue recaps her highlights from Day 1. Later this week we'll hear her take on Day 2. 

"I was once given a piece of advice, that we should celebrate what we want to replicate, and this year’s National Social Care Conference was definitely an opportunity to do that. There were some powerful moments of reflection on the impactful work that is being achieved, even with the contextual backdrop of the pandemic, which reminded me of the wisdom of this advice throughout the two days.

Day 1 Highlights

Jonathan Griffiths, President of ADSS Cymru, certainly didn’t duck the challenges faced by the sector! He opened the Conference by highlighting the real and stark challenges faced at all levels of care-providing organisations. But he went on to talk about the opportunity that the pandemic has created, not just to recover, but to reset the care system and develop a sustainable model for future generations – an opportunity that we went on to learn about through the perspective of a wide range of speakers. No-one could have been left in any doubt that person-centred, placed-based care are the cornerstones for the future if we are finally to re-balance the relationship between health and social care. And if we are serious about creating that pivot, our people – their resilience and wellbeing – must be the number one priority.

Highlighting the importance of being open to learn from a wide range of perspectives, the new Chief Social Care Officer for Wales, Albert Heaney, spoke about the listening exercises that he has undertaken with his team in recent months. It was clear that the ‘We Care’ campaign has been successful in raising the profile of social care but there is much more work to be done, particularly around unpaid carers and the incredible work that they do.

The sessions during the opening afternoon contained a number of gems. A really helpful update, hot off the press, from National Safeguarding Week, was followed by one of the Conference highlights: Dr Karen Sankey and Lucy Powell delivered a thought-provoking presentation about the impact that creating ecosystems of diversity has on the health and social care sector. In particular, there was much that can be learned and adopted from how this approach allows individuals and communities to design and co-produce their own solutions to their challenges.

The remainder of the afternoon was filled with a fantastic selection of seminars addressing areas of current importance for child and adult services, and including the integration of health and social care. Each seminar had its own panel of experts to discuss the presentations and we were blessed with a broad selection of panellists, all reportedly contributing to some very animated discussions!

I attended the Adult Services seminar where we enjoyed an excellent presentation from Mark Cooper, Direct Payments Team Manager in Flintshire, about ‘Direct Payments – the Act in Practice’. We were also inspired by ‘Living my Best Life’, a presentation from Michelle Williams, Kim Killow and Steve Brown from North Wales Together, who talked about their co-production journey. Both presentations were excellent, and I really hope that those who weren’t able to join us at the Conference directly will reach out to Mark and the North Wales Together team to learn more about the great work that is happening in North Wales."

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