National Learning Development Forum 2011

This year the delegates gathered at Nottingham Belfry Hotel for their annual conference.

There was a pre-forum dinner (29th June) where the first NASHiCS safety awards were presented.

The dinner was preceded by the annual general meeting with a good turnout.

An additional session on fire safety from the Fire Safety Working Group. This looked at the lessons to be learned form the Rosepark fire inquiry.

On the morning of the main event Chris Jackson, NASHiCS Chair, welcomed everyone and wished them an enjoyable and thought-provoking day.

He said that the political climate was affecting the care industry like everyone else but he was happy to report that the NASHiCS membership continued to grow and that the sphere of influence enjoyed by the organisation was widening.

Chris then introduced Dame Gillian Wagner DBE who set the forum on its way with her opening remarks.

Dame Gillian spoke first about her experience with health and safety and her feeling that the issues within residential care were not properly understood by people outside of that world. As chair of the Residential Forum, which is made up of public, private and voluntary sector organisations, she had recently attended a workshop where risk taking in residential care was debated. This had concentrated upon quality of life versus sensible risk taking. She concluded that whilst it is easy to mock health and safety, it is absolutely necessary to have it and the media don’t provide a balanced view.

Sharon Blackburn, Policy and Communications Director from the National Care Forum (NCF), was introduced as Conference Chair and she thanked Dame Gillian for her stirring start to the proceedings.

She then introduced Martin Green, Chief Executive of English Community Care Association (ECCA), who spoke about “The independent sector’s take on health and safety – bonus or burden?”

Martin opened by describing the emerging policy agenda which is changing care in the UK and is so fast moving that health and safety is in danger of being pushed down the list of priorities for organisations. He also thought that the perception of health and safety created by the media was wrong and that there is a challenge to seek ways in which it can be properly represented. He wondered how well health and safety professionals sell the value of their work to their Directors.

Martin added that while health and safety improves quality and ensures the protection of people, a common approach to risk assessment is needed across all services. There must be choice for people in care but with safety too. He concluded that unfortunately successful health and safety means being invisible – its only noticed when things go wrong. Health and safety professionals have a role to play in the success of a business and they must be vocal in explaining their contribution and value.

Conference chair Sharon Blackburn then introduced Paul Burnley, Partner at DLA Piper who gave a talk entitled “An Inspector Calls –corporate and individual liability when a fatality occurs – A defence lawyer’s view”.

Paul went carefully through the process that can unravel when a fatality occurs in a workplace and an HSE Inspector makes a visit. He explained how the police and the HSE are now enforcing the Corporate Manslaughter Act and Health & Safety legislation using some real life examples to emphasise his points. He also gave delegates some practical tips of how to cope with a real life situation.

After the mid morning coffee break, Sharon Blackburn introduced Annie Stevenson who is a Founder of the My Home Life Project and she talked about “Risk and Restraint in Care Homes”.

Annie said that My Home Life was about promoting quality of life and positive risk taking in care homes. She told delegates that the aim was to develop a relationship-centred, evidence-based vision for care home practice. Quality of life in action meant involving residents, supporting choice and having flexible rules. She went on to explain the importance of the managers role which has to be supported by appropriate training. She closed by saying that positive relationships are at the heart of transformation and personalisation but they need to be nurtured, modelled and reinforced.

The conference then split into two workshop streams, Workshop A covered Person Centred Risk Assessments, an opportunity for participants to explore the concepts and benefits and Workshop B covered a Technical Focus for LPG and Water Safety with input directly from the HSE.

After lunch the conference was given a thought-provoking and very personal presentation from Caroline Tomlinson, Customer Support Director from In Control, entitled “Love is not enough”. This described the trials and tribulations involved in getting suitable help for her son and kept everyone enthralled by the sheer enthusiasm with which the vagaries of her journey through the care system were outlined and as she explained how the eventual solution turned out cheaper and far better for everyone involved. Her son now has a personal budget and a team of personal assistants and his life has been totally changed.

The conference then again split into two workshops, Workshop C tackled Personal Assistants – A Challenging Future, which was a look into an unregulated world where safety still has to be an integral part and Workshop D covered “The Inquest” where a practical session included play acting of a real inquest with participation from delegates.

Afternoon tea was followed by the final session of the day from Alan Diamond, Regulatory Policy Officer from the Care Quality Commission (CQC), who spoke about “Regulation of Health & Safety by CQC and HSE”. Alan outlined how health and safety will be regulated in the future with CQC and the HSE working together.

The conference was closed by Andy Hollingshead, Vice Chair of NASHiCS who thanked everyone for attending. He also thanked the exhibitors and sponsors of the event for their support .

He reminded everyone that a seminar has been arranged for 9 November in Cardiff entitled “My home, my life, I’ll take the risks”.

He wished everyone a safe journey home and expressed a wish that everyone would meet again at next year’s conference provisionally booked for 27th/28th June 2012.