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NCAS Conference Rolling Blog (14/10)


This year at NCAS conference we’ll be operating a rolling blog for the first two days. It will be a collection of snap shots of the most interesting things heard and seen at this years conference.

11.00am – Al Thompson shares “I was struck by the opening assertion that nationally we are £700m short to do social services. My concern, in children’s services at least, is that we just can’t evidence that well enough to have the debate. What needs are driving demand, what are we spending to mitigate, prevent and address those needs, and how effective is that work? Until we can talk with confidence (evidence) in these terms, we just can’t talk about money.”

11.05am – Great quote from service user Isaac at NCAS (paraphrased)

“What happens when I turn 18? Nothing. Must walk alongside people to understand need. Not come and see me once a year with a form. Have the power shared. Stop investing in processes and start investing in people. Every single person here is an asset. About asking the right questions. One of my goals this year was to do a walk. That was one of my biggest achievements.”

11.40am – Alex Khaldi shares “At the education question time Alison O’ Sullivan, ADCS president, talked about the landscape for education, about collaboration and valuing schools not as independent entities….collaborating in partnerships…..acting as commissioners….even arm wrestling GPs where needed.

This echoes very accurately what IMPOWER is hearing more generally. Academies or not, schools are community assets. They are enriched by the relationship with the community, what is more they the community is enriched by collaborative and outward looking schools.

Alison has laid down a great challenge. Whatever the policies around structure and control, local government has the responsibility and opportunity to get the best for their communities. Surely schools have to be at the centre of our communities.”

12.15pm – The MJ has the scoop on a new call for prevention funding.

12.30pm – Henri Curzon shares “Co -production is an approach not just a different word for participation. It is a shared endeavour coming to shared solutions.

A good example would be Barnet council having a service user and a staff member co-leading their projects. Examples of other places having service users I’ve heard about include things like creating websites and videos to provide info to other service users. Birmingham appointed 35 young people as commissioners for young people mental health services which is hugely impressive.

Birmingham said that to do this values and behaviours awere key for co production, as well as workforce having confidence to engage and take risks. It all points to the need to be honest enough to have couragous conversations about Adult Social Care in 2020.”

1.15pm – Henri Curzon shares thoughts from a session on loneliness “Seems to me when we talk about risk we focus on risk of emergency admissions to hospital, whereas we can be more preventative than this. Age UK highlighted 4 risk factors that lead to loneliness which can be easily mapped against local populations. This feeds into early management of demand, on the cusp of primary and secondary prevention, although not properly evidenced yet as successful demand management.

1 million old people feel lonely, 5 million consider tv their main form of company – this cannot be ignored.”

1.30pm – Alex Khaldi shares his thoughts on the social care session”The impossible question I would have asked in the Care Act session…..

…..has been ably put by a Member from Devon. It is broadly related to the question of money and funding for Adult Social care. Now I generally think that a dose of austerity has created in parts a better and fitter local government. The scale of cuts looming in Adults though, is unprecedented, and in some places it may lead to very undesirable outcomes, not just in extra pressure on the NHS but also in terms of personal outcomes.

In a world of uncertainty and risk, however, one thing is clear. Those councils that can understand and manage their demand are much less likely to suffer the kind of crises we all want so desperately to avoid.”

2:15pm Important session on children’s services inspections now kicking off.

The Guardian has tweeted a piece calling for a ‘radical approach to regulation‘. Hot topic. IMPOWER also wrote about this in our Breaking the Lock report released earlier this year.

2:40pm Key messages coming out of the Ofsted inspections session:

  • Context is key and should be considered by Ofsted; ‘inspections cannot be blind to the resources available’
  • Affordability is a big issue with the single inspections framework, it’s a ‘huge chunk of resources’…
  • …but we must hold on to the best bits
  • Language is important; we need a constructive and realistic narrative

(Tweets from @GdnSocialCare and @ADCStweets)

3.00pm – Alex Khaldi shares some views on the prevention discussion ” Cllr Izzi Secombe from the LGA is calling for attention and investment on prevention.

I wholeheartedly support the position. BUT it is perfectly possible to spend a kings ransom on prevention and miss the very outcome we are seeking to forestall.

Prevention sounds brilliant doesn’t it? What’s not to like? The harder job is to use good evidence, insist on rigorous measurement and evaluation, and to locate preventive strategies in specific targets and strategic goals.

Without which, I am afraid, no amount of money spent on prevention will do any amount of good.”

3:50pm Samantha Jones, Director – New Care Models now up…

…Samantha outlining the importance of vanguard sites designing the services that people need (people focused change). (background information on the vanguard sites available here.)

…Vanguards need to be system leaders but also demonstrate how they’ll deliver savings


Picture of the action from @WardellR #NCASc15

4:20pm and now on to Lucy Powell MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Education…

Observation on Twitter: ‘Every Director I’ve met today has difficulty retaining #socialwork staff’ – an issue IMPOWER have been writing about a bit recently (see Maggie Atkinson’s blog and Ebony Hughes’ blog)

4:30pm Lucy Powell talking a lot on multi-agency working and early intervention (no school is an island). We know from our early help events that we host at IMPOWER that early help staff are trying to form better partnerships with schools (see blog).

Powell says Sharon Hodgson will do a review on how the Children and Families Act has affected change in the past year.#NCASC15 – @ComCareLuke

4:55pm IMPOWER staff Maggie Atkinson (@matkinson656) and Henrietta Curzon (@hcurzon) are also tweeting from the event; worth having a look as we roll in to the evening and get ready for day two….

And we’re done for day one. We’ll be back on the blog again tomorrow with reactions and best bits from NCASc 2015. We’re also on Twitter too. Goodnight Bournemouth!

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IMPOWER is an organisation driven by a social purpose. We are a values led consultancy dedicated to the reform of the public sector.



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