Care Agenda 2014

A fountainhead of fresh insights and new ideas

If a newcomer asked me to recommend a crash course in social care I don’t think I could do better than get them to book a place at Care Agenda.

The one-day event brings together a rich cross-section of care home operators, for ‘big boys, like the Ideal Care Homes to middle-sized and smaller groups such as Hallmark Care Homes and SummerCare and single home operators, among which this year was Marches Care, represented by its chief executive Mandy Thorn.

These care providers would give our newcomer an insight to the diversity of services provided by care homes in the UK – care for frail elderly  people, nursing care, specialist dementia care and other specialisms including young physically disabled and those with learning difficulties.

A few minutes spent with each of the 22 service companies would give our new colleague an insight into the complexity of being a care provider and an appreciation of some of the challenges they face. At this year’s event, held at the Ettington Chase Hotel near Stratford upon Avon in early February, each supplier to the sector was represented by people who not only knew their products and services but were able to explain how these could assist care providers to improve business efficiency and enhance service delivery.

It’s very clear, however, that people who could hardly be described as newcomers also gain great benefit from being part of Care Agenda. While the schedule of 20-minute meetings keeps them busy throughout the day, there is generous provision of networking opportunities and many seasoned providers could be seen in tete-a-tetes during the lunch and coffee breaks and at the evening wine tasting event, at dinner, and of course at the bar afterwards.

Care Agenda brings it all together – laundry equipment suppliers, furniture makers, reminiscence specialists, insurers, legal experts, caters, training providers and many, many more. Many care providers at this year’s event told me that meeting reps was part of their job, and to be able to have a head-to-head meeting with 22 suppliers in the space of a working day was an efficient use of their time.

Suppliers also see the value of having scheduled meetings with so many potential high-calibre customers gathered at a single event. Neil Grant, a solicitor with specialist law firm Ridout said the meetings went far beyond a scripted sales-pitch. “There’s plenty of two-way dialogue,” he said. “Most of our discussions were about regulatory, safeguarding and commissioning disputes and we may well receive instructions as a consequence of these meetings.”

Care Agenda is much more than a trade show – it is a meeting of minds and a sharing of ideas and experience.

Luther Kelly at The Energy Desk said the rising cost of energy was making care providers ever more energy-aware. “The people we saw here today were very, very interested in how we help them to reduce their energy bills,” he said.

Russell Wickland of the Nursing Hygiene Group said he had been satisfied with his round of meetings. “It’s been a good day,” he said. “You don’t do deals on a day like this – it’s all about building relationships and we’ve done a lot of that.”

I sat-in on a meeting between Andrew Long of Ideal Care Homes and Marie Vickery and Kate Brett of Lifetime Training and was struck by how in-depth and how focused a 20-minute discussion could be.

Later in the day I asked several care home operators what they would take away from this year’s Care Agenda. “It’s good to see what’s on offer,” said Optima Care’s Syd Coombes. “You pitch up, not knowing who you’re going to meet and you come away with a lot of ideas. It makes you think about your business and how you might be able to improve it.”

Sitting amid the animated buzz of earnest conversations in the meeting hall I had the sense that everyone, care providers and suppliers alike, were making very good use of their opportunities to build relationships and lay the foundations for future deals.

Having been involved with the care sector for more than 15 years, I’m no newcomer, but I come away from each Care Agenda with fresh insight and a lot of new ideas.  

Editor GEOFF HODGSON reports on Care Agenda 2014 in the latest edition of Caring Times (March 2014).


Click the image below to download a PDF for this past event.


For further information about this past event, please contact Steven Knowles on
Supplier Opportunities are now available for future Care Agendas. For more information please contact Caroline Bowern on

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