Mark Topps
October 22, 2021

Mark Topps | Industry Expert

Social Care Column with Mark Topps: A round-up of the 2021 Care Show

On 13th and 14th October, I attended the Care Show at the NEC in Birmingham, the social event of the year for social care suppliers and those working within the sector. The atmosphere was electric! Here’s a round-up of my personal highlights.

Supplier engagement

After nearly 2 years of engaging with suppliers over the phone, having video call demonstrations and not being able to engage fully, it was great to be able to meet people face-to-face, hold their products, have in-person demonstrations and network once again.

I felt this year that there was no heavy selling or pushing products on visitors, just suppliers showcasing their products and engaging – it was refreshing. Everybody had really upped their game with the free merchandise and competitions. Gone are the days of just having pens! This year’s haul included:

  • Phone accessories
  • Water bottles
  • Plant seeds
  • Paint sets.

“I even got an owl plush! I think it was the must have item this year as everyone was telling me about them!”

Meeting colleagues

During the pandemic, I co-founded two online social care shows, The Caring View and The Health & Social Care Club. Through doing these shows and networking on social media, I’ve met so many fantastic people working within the sector, and it was great to be able to finally meet with them in person.

I wondered on the drive to Birmingham if I’d find it strange or weird, but actually it was just like meeting old friends and having a catch up after not seeing someone for a while, which was fantastic.

On the build-up to the event, I created a WhatsApp group for suppliers and visitors, and on the evening of day 1, some of us had dinner and drinks. Looking back, it was so gratifying to continue building on those working relationships, which for many have turned into friendships. It was also great introducing people I’ve met and networked with to other people and I know since this has allowed some suppliers to build new contracts.

“If I’m being honest, it was just nice to have some downtime!”

Talks and panel discussions

The discussions and talks this year were outstanding! There was a wide variety of topics, including:

  • Complaint management
  • Different models of care
  • Digital technology
  • Insurance
  • Marketing
  • Regulation
  • The Care Quality Commission (CQC).

I was honoured to join a panel to discussing inclusion and social media, and join my Clubhouse hosts on the Keynote Stage discussing social care reform, recruitment and retention.

“The show really is a place where you need a pen and notepad to take notes as there are so many points to take away and embed back into your care teams and services.”

It’s not just me that thought it was great!

I spoke with Jenni Mack, Author of When I grow up I want to be a Carer and Marketing Executive at the Care Workers Charity. She said:

“It was more than just a show this year. It was reconnecting, recharging, reigniting and remarkable! Such amazing people from all areas of social care in one location, with bonds created collectively through the most traumatic time of many of our working lives.”

Sign up for next year

The Care Show will be in London in May 2022 and back in Birmingham later that year. If you haven’t been, or you missed it this year, I’d highly recommend attending.

I look forward to seeing you there!