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The Care England Conference 2024, themed “Championing Change,” brought together leading voices in the adult social care sector to explore the current landscape of care and look at what the care sector can do in the face of government inaction on tackling workforce pressures, improving regulation and generating innovation. The conference hosted a line-up of expert speakers and thought leaders, with each presenter offering a comprehensive exploration of the challenges and opportunities facing the sector today.


Setting the Stage: Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive at Care England

The conference commenced with Care England’s Chief Executive Professor Martin Green providing a poignant reminder that the care sector is at a pivotal juncture, facing multifaceted challenges. His call to action underscored the imperative for the sector to carve its own destiny, highlighting the critical role of proactive, rather than reactive, approaches in shaping the future of care.


Developing Our Talent: Professor Deborah Sturdy, Chief Nurse at the Department of Health and Social Care

Professor Deborah Sturdy’s presentation, “Developing Our Talent – Social Care Nursing,” emphasised the importance of fostering a robust workforce through partnership and collaboration across the whole health and social care sector. Her advocacy for embedding social care experience in nursing education underscores a strategic approach to help ease the disparity between health and care and support wider recruitment and skill development. The emphasis on co-production and collaboration across Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) resonates with the need for a unified approach to healthcare and social care.


A Collective Journey: Beverley Tarka, President at ADASS

Beverley Tarka began her presentation “Time to Act: Next Steps for Adult Social Care,” by referring to an African proverb “if you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together.” Beverley stressed the sector’s need for inclusivity and collaboration. Her call for a national commitment to long-term funding was wholeheartedly welcomed by the conference, along with the exploration of technological advancements, such as digital passports and Generative AI. The importance of co-production when developing technology became a theme of the conference, with Beverley outlining that whilst Gen. AI could enhance the effectiveness of care, its development must be through a person-centred approach with people, not provision at its heart.


A Provider’s Perspective: James Allen, Chief Executive at National Care Group

James Allen’s presentation, ‘Championing Social Care – A Provider’s Perspective,’ provided insights into the financial and operational pressures facing care providers. Continuing with the theme of technology, James highlighted the National Care Group’s involvement in the Adult Social Care Tech Fund with its plan to roll out eMAR across all its services and the beneficial outcomes it would have on service users, staff and wider services. James also outlined the progress National Care Group has made with its initiatives to support the wellbeing of the workforce through programmes such as supporting women going through menopause.


Regulatory Insights: James Bullion, Interim Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care, Integrated Care, Care Quality Commission

The “Question Time – Ask the Inspector” session with James Bullion provided a forum for addressing queries about the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) new Single Assessment Framework and wider regulatory pressures. Questions from the audiences focused on queries about the Single Assessment Framework and how providers could improve their service’s ratings. Bullion outlined the CQC’s commitment to smarter regulation and improved communication with providers with the need to move towards a more flexible and responsive regulatory environment. It was further outlined that if care providers do not think the current balance is right, then the CQC encourages providers to share their thoughts and experiences.


Panel Discussions: Shaping the Future of Care

The conference featured two pivotal panel discussions. The first, chaired by George Appleton, hosted Dr Anna Dixon MBE, Strategy, Governance and Policy Consultant; James Tugendhat, CEO at HC-One; and Paul de Savary, Managing Director, Home from Home Care. This panel delved into achieving a sustainable care sector, highlighting the importance of positioning social care at the heart of future policy and addressing the challenges posed by an ageing population. Panellists discussed the challenges with the new regulatory framework, and how the sector needs to adapt to the increasing ageing population and frailty of individuals.

The second panel, chaired by Louis Holmes, hosted Charles Cross, COO at Anglian Care & Co-founder at emma AI; Albert Creixell, Head of Alexa Enterprise for UK and Spain, Amazon; and Clemence Muchingaguyo, Registered Manager and Head of Nursing, Nightingale Hammerson. This panel looked at the digital transformation of the social care sector, examining both the opportunities and challenges of implementing current and future tech within a care setting. Discussions reemphasised the importance of co-production between care users, providers, suppliers and government. Generative AI’s potential in social care was also a central topical discussion and something that care providers should not shy away from, but rather embrace its possibilities (whilst being cautious).


Concluding Thoughts: Angela Boxall

Angela Boxall’s closing remarks encapsulated the conference’s spirit of innovation and collaboration. The collective efforts of speakers, exhibitors, and delegates underscored Care England’s commitment to advancing the quality and sustainability of care.

Care England thanks everyone who attended this year’s conference, we look forward to seeing you all in 2025!