Social Care Symposium – 25th January 2019


By 2018 Nathaniel Hone

The High Sheriff’s symposium was held at the Shirehall Hereford on 25th January 2019. Here are the introduction, programme and bios of the speakers and panel that went out with the invitation.

Social Care Symposium

What is it about?

Social care is the theme for my year as High Sheriff. Modern British Society has delegated to the State, and hence to commercial and charitable organisations, the main responsibility for the provision of help to the vulnerable of all ages. To an extent, this leads to an “out of sight, out of mind” attitude by those of us fortunate enough not to need their services. We are outraged when the system goes wrong. We tend to believe that the problems are simple and seek scapegoats.

The problems are, however, seldom simple but more often present hideous dilemmas. The judgements are often finely balanced, though the consequences of being wrong can be terrible. Risks have to be weighed up since opposing courses of action each carry their own risks.

In Herefordshire, there are 335 children in the care of Herefordshire Council. In a typical year, 125 children are taken into care by the social services. 258 children are placed with foster parents. 15 children are in care homes, others are placed with wider family and friends or in residential special schools. There are also a significant number of children from other local authority areas that are placed with carers in Herefordshire, who grow up here and are educated in Herefordshire schools and make use of local health services.

During the year, Herefordshire is approached around 7,000 times by adults looking for some level of support. These contacts result in a range of outcomes; from signposting to other, more appropriate agencies, to support from universal services, through to the provision of long-term care for people being discharged from hospital. At any one point there are around 2,500 people in receipt of care, and throughout the course of the year around 3,200 adults who receive long-term help support from social services. This is through provision of services such as domiciliary care, supported living, direct payments and care homes. .

The annual cost of the provision of this care is £27m for children’s care and £52.5m for adult social care. This is out of a total budget of £145m for Herefordshire Council in a year.

I now have these goals.

  • Firstly, I hope that a wider audience will understand the issues; be prepared to explain these to others and be supportive of the service.
  • Secondly, to be in the caring profession is to be part of a very high calling. Such people deserve our hearty thanks. Morale can be poor because Society does not give proper value to what they do on our behalf. This must change.
  • Thirdly, it is inevitable that institutions must operate within a legal framework and also to operate with clear procedures and protocols. Human constructs like this are seldom perfect for the job because humans are unpredictable beings. We need to be ready to adapt in the light of experience, whether it be the law or procedure. We also need to match our expectations for outcomes to the amount we are prepared to pay.

On a lighter note, the word Symposium has two meanings.

  1. A conference or meeting to discuss a particular subject
  2. A drinking party or convivial discussion, especially as held in ancient Greece after a banquet (and notably as the title of a work by Plato).

I cannot promise a drinking party. I do, however, hope for convivial discussion in which all present are working towards the goals in the spirit of constructive cooperation.

Social Care Symposium

The programme

1:00 Refreshments


1:45 Welcome and opening remarks


Nat Hone High Sheriff of Herefordshire
1:50 The legal aspects of Social Care


The Hon Mr Justice Keehan High Court Judge
2:10 Social care as a profession Richard Humphries King’s Fund
2:30 Social Care’s interface with Health


Dr Ian Tait General Practitioner
2:50 Break


3:10 Panel discussion


  See below  
4:15 Tea and informal chat

before departure



The Right Hon. Sir Andrew McFarlane, President of the Family Division and Head of Family Justice for England and Wales, will chair the panel. Other panel members are:

Our three guest speakers plus

Stephen Vickers         – Director of Adult Social Services, Herefordshire Council

Chris Baird                 – Director of Children’s Services, Herefordshire Council

Frank Myers               – Walford Parish Council, Wye Valley NHS Trust


Sir Michael Keehan QC was called to the bar at Middle Temple in 1982. He was appointed a Queen’s Counsel in 2000. He was appointed a Recorder in 2000 and was approved to sit as a deputy High Court judge.

On 13 May 2013, he was appointed a High Court judge, assigned to the Midland Circuit Family Division. He is responsible for the family justice system in the Midlands.

Richard Humphries joined The King’s Fund in 2009 to lead on social care and work across the NHS and local government. He is a recognised national commentator and writer on social care reform, the funding of long-term care and the integration of health and social care. He led the Fund’s work in supporting the Barker Commission on the future of health and social care.

A graduate of LSE, his professional background is social work, and over the past 35 years he has worked in a variety of roles, including as a director of social services and health authority chief executive (the first combined post in England) and in senior roles in the Department of Health. Richard is a non-executive director of Wye Valley NHS Trust and also a Visiting Professor at the University of Worcester, a columnist for the Local Government Chronicle, and a fellow of the RSA.

Dr. Ian Tait has been a General Medical Practitioner in Bromyard since 1988. He brings his commitment to the holistic care of individual patients in the consulting room to the wider population of Herefordshire through his 20 year involvement in the planning, purchasing and delivery of quality health services.

Using experiences of the individuals and populations he serves sets clinical practice alongside their social context in terms of wellbeing and wider determinants of health.

He is currently Chair and Clinical Lead of NHS Herefordshire Clinical Commissioning Group and Vice-Chair of Herefordshire Council`s Health and Wellbeing Board. He has a strong commitment to partnership and collaboration.

The Right Hon. Sir Andrew McFarlane who has been President of the Family Division and Head of Family Justice for England and Wales since July 2018, practiced as a barrister specialising in the law relating to children for 28 years prior to appointment as a High Court judge in 2005 and, in 2011, a Lord Justice of Appeal. He is the co-author of the leading practitioners’ textbook ‘Children: Law and Practice’ [Bloomsbury Professional].

Stephen Vickers joined Herefordshire Council in 2014. His professional background is social work with post qualifying experience as an approved mental health practitioner and best interests assessor. He has been a visiting lecturer with De Montfort University since 2007 specialising in law, policy and evidence based practice.

Achievements include winning the Frank May award for “Contributions to Social Care”, “Service of the Year” in the National Social Work Awards, “Award for Innovation” for the Community Brokers at the Herefordshire Health and Social Care awards and final shortlisting for “community involvement” at LGC Awards 2019 (results to be announced)

Chris Baird was appointed as Director Children and Families, Herefordshire Council in November 2017, having worked in Herefordshire for ten years across a range of children’s and adult services. He started working in children’s services in 1995, in special educational needs in Surrey.

Mr Frank Myers MBE, BTech (Hons), GDMA, FCMI, FIC, MIET. , an Engineering and also a Management and Administration graduate is a businessman and entrepreneur. He founded Myers Road Safety Ltd, taking inventions in the road safety field to world markets. As a Director of MCP Systems Consultants Ltd, he has been responsible for introducing a new high-tech concept of asset tracking into the health service. Previously, he was Manufacturing Director of Royal British Legion Industries.

He was a Director and Trustee of Queen Elizabeth’s Foundation for Disabled People, a charity working with people living with physical and learning disabilities or acquired brain injuries and assisting them to gain new skills and increase independence. He is also a Non-Executive Director of The Wye Valley NHS Trust and Chairman of its Charitable Funds Committee and the Herefordshire Stakeholder Group.

He is currently chairman of Walford Parish Council where there is now a thriving ‘Community Support Regime’ which aims to deliver ‘Care Closer to Home’.

He is Chairman of the Herefordshire Business Board with a seat on the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership and Chairman of the Herefordshire Community Foundation.

Some 170 people attended. The speakers set the scene with very interesting speeches from a legal, medical and statistical point of view. There followed a panel and audience discussion that ranged widely.

If there was a conclusion, it was that the best solutions to problems tend to come from the grassroots as long as they are set free from institutional silos.


Social Care Symposium – 25th January 2019