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At NCASC 2022, we were delighted to add some hope amongst the challenges facing the sector

Earlier this month my colleagues and I headed to Manchester for the National Children and Adult Services Conference (NCASC). It was the largest gathering of national and social care leaders for several years. Much of the content was focused on the significant challenges facing the sector.

As headline sponsor, we were delighted to co-ordinate a session that captured another stream of sentiment – HOPE!

In the session, amazing teams from Manchester and Lincolnshire shared their stories of hope from impressive system-wide change in adult and children’s services. Through months of testing and iterating, we framed a common approach that others can replicate in different circumstances. A disruptive route to hope, built around three steps – join forces, reframe and be relentless.

Our interactive session enabled us to gather feedback from the hundreds of social care leaders in the room. More than 100 people in the audience used the online platform to give us direct feedback on hope.

  • 93% pointed to the potential to join forces on the great ideas and solutions in their communities.
  • 96% said we need to collaboratively re-think how social care is delivered. The most common themes were about not waiting for government solutions, but getting a grip locally, and tackling the transition from children’s to adult services.

They also reflected that hope needs to be realistic, and shared some barriers to delivering on our hope:

  • 29% shared the challenges of turning good ideas into reality – commenting that “selling change is not easy”
  • 43% said they struggled to make change sustainable
  • 63% saw a big challenge in scaling up to make good ideas system-wide

The most inspiring feedback was direct comments on what gives the sector hope. Working with others and in partnership was a strong theme, including an emphasis on “shared stories”. One comment captured a common sentiment expressed by many: hope comes from “likeminded people coming together with a common purpose and passion to make a difference”. Others put it more simply as an imperative; “children need us to be relentlessly hopeful”.

The challenges we face as a sector do not look likely to abate any time soon. Keeping a focus on how we can still join forces, reframe and relentlessly drive improvement in spite of this will continue to be challenging but important. Let’s keep HOPE.