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On Thursday, 18 May, Care England, Future Care Capital and Talent for Care held the inaugural Health and Social Care Workforce: Wellbeing, Integration and Sustainability Conference.

Alongside senior leaders in the NHS and adult social care, Care England and our event partners, aimed to create a conference which would seek to share solutions to improve the wellbeing, integration and sustainability of the health and social care workforce. With Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) soon approaching the one-year anniversary of their establishment, the conference presented an opportunity to bring together key stakeholders from all sectors within health and social care to share what is working, what isn’t working, challenge artificial boundaries and explore much-needed innovation for the sustainability of the health and social care workforce.

Following an introductory speech by Professor Irene Gray, Care England’s Professor Martin Green OBE gave the first keynote speech on the reality of integration. In his speech, Professor Green highlighted that ICSs represent the latest in many attempts to reform the system to better integrate health and social care. In order for there to be meaningful change, and for these systems to produce tangible outcomes, there needs to be a change in culture for all involved. Professor Green emphasised that together “we need to shift the dial in workforce training from organisations and processes to people and outcomes.”

Following Professor Green’s speech, Talent for Care’s Director, Alessandro Alagna, held a panel discussion themed around ‘Caring for our workforce, transforming wellbeing & retention’. The panellists, which were made up of senior leaders across both health and social care, spoke about their experiences on how they have supported their workforce throughout the pandemic, and what innovations could be introduced over the never few years which could support providers and organisations to further bolster their workforce. This panel lead to the first roundtable discussion, wherein guests were able to reflect on these discussions, but produce their own answers as a collective and share their experiences with the rest of the audience.

The afternoon session opened with a second keynote speech from Sir David Nicholson, who assessed what the facilitators and barriers are to an integrated service provision, using his wealth of experience within the sector to inform this. As Sir David noted, “People across the world are thinking about how they can integrate their services to get the best possible outcomes for their citizens”, and after closing his speech with his recommendations, the roundtables reconvened to utilise the experiences of those in the room to give their own.

The final speaker of this event was Shadow Minister for Social Care, Liz Kendall MP. Ms Kendall noted the “courage, compassion and commitment” displayed by the social care workforce through the stresses and pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic, and offered insight into Labour’s plan for the sector.

Concluding the event, Professor Martin Green noted that “it can make a difference when all systems work together. And if we get it right, there are so many dividends for both those in care and the staff that care for them.”

Care England is incredibly grateful to those who attended this event and would like to thank Professor Irene Gray, Sir David Nicholson and our event partners for making this opportunity for collaboration a reality. Whilst, a special mention must also go to the wonderful sponsors PLMR, Paragon Skills, Bevan Brittan and Advanced who together made this event possible.

We hope that attendees found the discussions informative, and also the beginning of an important ongoing conversation that will help build a sustainable Health and Social Care workforce supported by innovation, to continue delivering the high-quality care that citizens deserve.