The future of care & impressions from the Care England 2018 Conference


As researchers, we are always looking for inspiration. When we are not undertaking fieldwork, writing articles, analysing and synthesising data, we spend our spare moments contributing to new conversations in academia, policy & practice. These conversations enable us to get a pulse on the latest trends that are relevant for industry & inform our research agenda.

Recently I was honoured to be invited to attend my first Care England 2018 Conference & Exhibition, which took place at the Church House in Westminster, London. I was unsure what to expect from a one-day conference, but it delivered multiple insights at a quick pace.  It was a full house, with nearly 300 delegates, 37 exhibitors, inspirational keynotes, fascinating case studies & captivating seminars. This year’s theme was “Logging On: using data & technology”, and almost every presenter talked about technology in care from various perspectives. There hasn’t been a better time to bring together policymakers, regulators, government, care providers, commissioners & innovators across the sector, to discuss, reflect & act on our roles in improving care arrangements. It was quite stimulating to meet so many passionate people that truly care about care! And clearly quite an effort to organise. So very well done Care England!

Dr Karla Zimpel-Leal profile picture

Dr Karla Zimpel-Leal

UKRI Innovation Fellow

The Conference kicked-off with the always motivating introduction from Care England’s Chief Executive, Professor Martin Green, followed by Dr Claire Royston from Four Seasons Health Care, who talked about value-based technology and how it improves not only residents’ experiences but also care teams. Caroline Dinenage, Minister of State for the Department of Health and Social Care, referred to the importance of integrating people rather than services. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) new Chief Executive Ian Trenholm spoke about his priority to work internally first to provide intelligence-driven inspections. He also discussed the importance of aligning incentives and to collaborate more to help drive improvements in the sector, including showcasing small-scale projects and how they are implementing technology. Alyson Scurfield, Chief Executive of Telecare Services Association (TSA) shared moving stories where lives were enriched by technology, and stressed that the future of care is preventative and personalised. James Palmer from NHS Digital brought a compelling case on how historical examples can inform us not make the same mistakes, and the risks of how poor technology can be adopted if the strategy & business model are not well designed. He described how Sony’s Betamax and Brunels’s broad-gauge railway were superior products but were not adopted. Instead, JVC’s VHS and Stephenson’s narrow-gauge railway were widely implemented. The morning session ended with a short documentary from ITN Productions on how creativity in care can make the mundane become inspirational, with several examples including a choir in every care home, gardening, intergenerational interactions, painting and dancing.

The afternoon session broke into several seminars with some of the exhibitors. I attended the seminar with HUR and iCareHealth. HUR produces pneumatic strength training equipment, working primarily with seniors and rehabilitation. They showcased some awe-inspiring real-life examples of how retaining and regaining strength is so vital as we age. iCareHealth discussed how data and technology can go beyond evidencing care towards predicting problems before they happen, through the use of predictive analytics and an interconnected data & monitoring system. I also had the privilege to talk with other exhibitors such as NACAS , who are doing great work in supporting the care workforce, and the Alzheimer’s Society and Skills for Care. Apetito provides personalised, nutritious and sustainably sourced food for older people, and PLRM is a leading health & social care communications agency that helps campaigns and PR that influences change.

It was great to witness so many thought-provoking discussions and innovative ideas.

The key takeaways from the Care England 2018 Conference & Exhibition were:

  • The future of care is preventative, predictive and personalised
  • We must have a proactive rather than a reactive provision of care
  • Integration of people is more essential than integration of systems
  • Predictive analytics is a game-changer technology in care
  • There’s an urgent need for a comprehensive workforce strategy that raises the status, pay, skills and workload of care workers

I had a fantastic conference experience with excellent content packed with learning & networking opportunities and I’m looking forward to next year’s Care England Conference already!

Dr Karla Zimpel-Leal

See the social media highlights: @CareEngland #CareEngConf18

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Care England are a Partner of the Sustainable Care research programme