Feedback from HCA National Leadership & Development Forum 2017

We took a number of vox-pops at the 2017 HCA National Leadership and Development Forum at the Europa Hotel, Belfast (6-7 April) inviting you to tell us what you thought of this year’s event. Thank you for all your comments. Your feedback is important to the on-going success of the HCA National Forum.

And here is what you said…

Delegates Feedback

"This is about my third HCA event. I’ve found it totally inspiring. My abiding thought [from it all] is how much stronger we all are in whichever aspect of healthcare we work in and how much better we are when we work together – the collaboration is so important as well as listening to some of the examples of how people have put into this into practice for the sake of the health of the nation. It also highlights to me the great importance of Catering and Dietetics working together, also nursing and the Power of Three – how it all comes together. I feel energised by it. Thank you very much for inviting me and I’m honoured to be here."

Sian O’Shea, In-coming Chair, British Dietetics Association

“I’ve been to quite a few HCA Conferences. The organisation is good. I love the exhibition and the networking with all companies and colleagues. The sessions have been good – I really loved Roy Lilley. He was very entertaining and to the point, making us think about what we could actually do if it was possible."

Helen Davidson, Catering Strategy Dietitian, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde

“Our members do try to come to all HCA Forums as often as we can. They’re very informative and it’s the sharing of ideas, meeting other Caterers and trying to move things forward [in our industry] that’s so valuable. The organisation has been fantastic, really well done to Elsa and the team. The Forum content has been great – very varied and we’re making the notes … Alison McCree said earlier that the Efficiency Agenda is here to stay – well, boy, it’s definitely here to stay and that’s something we’re all working very hard towards.”

Mary Moriarty, Honorary Secretary, Catering Management Association of Ireland

“This is my first HCA Forum. It’s been excellent. I’ve found everyone friendly, the speeches have been very well delivered and are very pertinent to here and now and I’m having an excellent time. I’m not yet a Member of the HCA but it certainly seems to be the direction to go in, certainly if you’re committed to your service – the information being shared not just between hospitals but between countries is very good. What’s struck me is that everyone takes everything seriously but it’s not all work – there’s humour and fun as well as work and that helps to make everything relevant. I really enjoyed the President’s Dinner, it was excellent, the food was very good and the entertainment was also very good. It’s a pity Northern Ireland hadn’t a bit more input into the Awards Ceremony. I think maybe we don’t have a big enough group in Northern Ireland whereas other areas can put more into it. Maybe not enough hospitals in Northern Ireland buy into the HCA – in the Belfast Trust it’s very much the case that if you want to join then you’re welcome to join … [she means that there’s no expectation that Caterers should join, and maybe there should be] … Tony O’Hara’s my boss and I think he’s brought the HCA very much to the fore in the Belfast Trust and I hope that continues on because they do some very good work.”

Susan Garland, Assistant Support Services Manager, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust

“This is my first HCA Forum and I’ve found it very interesting, very helpful and very knowledgeable about all aspects of Catering, from start to finish. I’ve been in Catering over 30 years and equipment used to be so much heavier, more objects were needed [in the kitchen] but seeing all the new equipment at the Exhibition, how it has been modernised and how light and flexible it is has been so useful. It’s given me some new ideas.”

Margaret Hamilton, Catering Assistant, Holywell Hospital, Northern Health and Social Care Trust

“The organisation of the whole Forum has been brilliant. What’s stuck with me is the emphasis that has been placed on making sure that the quality of the meals and the service to the patient is consistent and it’s good, from the start of the process in the main kitchen right through to the patient. We need to make sure that the Domestics who deal with the patients at the bedside serve the food well. It’s not just the cooking, it’s the presentation that’s important. You’re ill, you want a nice meal presented to you – you eat with your eyes. We should never forget that.”

Lily Cochrane, Senior Supervisor for Community Domestic Services, Northern Health and Social Care Trust

“We’ve found the talks this morning [Day 2] quite intense – a lot to take in – but informative and it’s been good. We occupy such a small area at Causeway Hospital within the Trust so it’s good to see the bigger picture. The Exhibitors are really friendly, really welcoming. This is my first year in this management role within the Trust and my first HCA event and it’s definitely a useful event for us. I’ve just put in my application for Membership and hopefully it’ll be approved at the next Branch Meeting.”

Conor O’Kane, Catering Supervisor, Northern Health and Social Care Trust

“I think this must be my 16th HCA Conference/Forum. I particularly wanted to come this year because it is in Northern Ireland for the first time in 30 years – we’ve made the effort to go to England, Wales and Scotland in the past so it’s only fair that we should support the event here. There have been a lot of occasions [in past Conferences] where the number of Delegates in the hall has appeared to reduce over the two days but this year, since 11.00 a.m. on Day 1 when the Forum opened, the room has been full. It’s been of interest to everyone. I also think it was a good idea to hold the AGM in the morning [of Day 2]. I thought John Compton, who delivered the Keynote Address, was particularly good. It’s very difficult to go on first, but it was a great start and people must have thought that his address was so good [that it was worth staying for the rest of the Sessions]. The Forum is such a great opportunity to get Catering Managers all together under one roof and it’s ideal for the Suppliers who would otherwise struggle to try to visit so many customers and potential clients on their home ground. I’ve not really been to a bad HCA Conference – they’re all different as they focus on what’s happening in the industry at the time and that’s really useful to us all.”

Craig Hough, Catering Manager, Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Trust

“This is my first time at an HCA Forum and I’m most impressed. The organisation by the Lansdowne team and also Elsa’s team has been excellent – well done to everyone. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. Marcia [her colleague quoted below] and I are definitely going to become Members of the Association. There’s so much to take away from this – new ideas, new products, new initiatives - that we can take back to our team.”

Geraldine Ward, Production Manager, Antrim Area Hospital

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the Forum. I was particularly impressed with Roy Lilley – he speaks in a very constructive way – realistically and on our level. We can all understand what he’s talking about. We need more ‘Roys’. We don’t have enough people like him speaking out in our industry. I think it’s important to be part of the HCA. When our jobs [in Catering] go out to the market I think it should be a requirement that successful applicants have to join the HCA. Finding out what’s going on in the industry generally and not just within our own hospitals is so important and being part of the Association is one way of keeping in touch.”

Marcia Ormiston, Catering Services Manager, Antrim Area Hospital

“It’s been really good to come back to Forum and to see what’s going on, especially as I missed last year’s event. I’ve changed roles and I’m now working with Mental Health services which is quite new for me but has been really useful in helping me to focus on what is required.”

Stella Gardener, Catering Services Manager, Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust

“This is the first time I’ve been to an HCA Forum and the reason I’m here is because I sit on a group within the Trust that is trying to improve the menus and the eating habits of the staff and visitors in the restaurants. I’ve been very impressed, but one thing that has slightly alarmed me is that I’ve only come across one stand [in the Exhibition] which has been pushing fresh fruit. I think there’s been a predominance among the Exhibitors of products that I, as a healthcare professional, wouldn’t want to promote to the customers [i.e. packaged biscuits, muffins, cakes, sweet stuff etc]. I’m not saying you can’t eat them – I love some sweet stuff – but it should all be in moderation. Obviously you need to give people choice but there’s a real obesity problem. We’re trying to change people’s lifestyle habits and the way they choose to live by giving them healthier choices and this is a great opportunity to influence the people who work in the healthcare sector. There’s too much of the unhealthy stuff compared to the healthy stuff. But apart from that I’ve found the Forum very interesting, very enlightening.”

Una Martin, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust

“It’s nice to be in Ireland and to be with colleagues from around the UK and I think it has been very informative. The Programme has been good – it’s always different, I find, with the HCA - and gives you plenty to think about. There’s always something to take away with you. I think the thing that stands out for me was John Compton’s Keynote Address when he said that it’s not about the money but how you enable what you’ve got – how you use the money you’ve got. Which is true. We always think about how we can make cuts but it should be about considering what we can do with what we’ve got. The Exhibition is good; as always the Suppliers are always friendly, happy and welcoming - and very helpful.”

Tim Litherland, President, HefmA

“Forum has been really good this year. The Sessions have been interesting and my favourite was Roy Lilley’s – he was brilliant. The venue for the President’s Dinner [Titanic Belfast] was really special, quite outstanding. The Exhibition has been good. There are a few Suppliers that we have been wanting to speak to and it’s good that they’re here under one roof. It’s difficult when you’re trying to arrange to get them to come to your unit – you get caught up in business and it’s not easy to arrange – so it’s good to have the opportunity to speak to them in this sort of environment.”

Kate Murray, Head of Linen and Catering Services, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde

“This is my fifth HCA Conference/Forum. It’s been good. I was a little bit worried initially about how many Members or Exhibitors would come this year because of the distances involved but I’ve been surprised as to how many have actually managed to come. The Sessions have been good – informative as usual, very topical - but the Speaker that stands out for me is Roy Lilley – he’s always good. The venue is nice, although I was a bit bothered at first that the Exhibition is on different levels but they’ve coped well. My first impression when I walked in on Thursday morning was that the stands were quite crammed together and I thought I’d get round them really quickly but it has taken me the best part of two days to get around them all. Another good year.”

Julie Griffiths, Catering Manager, Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust

“With Phil Shelley being part of our Branch [South West Branch] we felt it was important to get as many Members as possible to come over to Forum to support him as he stands down as National Chair. We don’t get the support [to attend] from our Trusts now, so we’ve come at our own expense. The Forum has been so well organised. The Organising Committee may be like swans – paddling like crazy underneath - but on the surface it’s been as smooth as anything for the Delegates. It’s lovely to come to Belfast and to have the time to experience the city and the warmth and friendliness of the people - not only the local people but also the HCA family. We’ve all got trials and tribulations to deal with back at work so it’s good to all get together. That, for me, is what I get out of these events – being together and sharing experiences and knowledge with our colleagues. The venue is super. The Europa Hotel in Belfast is iconic and it’s an honour to be in here.”

Caroline Darvill, Facilities Contract Manager, Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and newly appointed Honorary Treasurer Elect

“The Forum has given us food for thought, we’ve entered into some good debates and we’re going to be going back thinking about how we can build resilience into our teams, look at the bottom line a little bit more and see how we can improve our services. This is my third Forum – I was on the Committee for Forum 2016 so this year it’s been great to sit on the other side and just enjoy things. With regard to the Speakers, Roy Lilley really stood out for me. One thing I don’t like is ‘death by PowerPoint’ – you tend to switch off, so going forward I’d say less PowerPoints and make things a bit more personable. When you’ve got too much data and information on slides people glaze over glaze, even if it’s a powerful message that’s up there. Otherwise it’s been fantastic. The event at Belfast Titanic was great – I loved the choir and the Irish dancing.”

Karl Berry, Catering Manager, Netsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, North Wales

“I’ve found the Forum, as always, interesting and the atmosphere has been absolutely superb. It provides a focal point for the HCA and the Association is one of the few [in the industry] that can actually mount a highly successful event year after year that always reflects what is currently going on within the NHS. I think the NHS is fortunate to have our Association in its midst.”

Colin Clark, Honorary Member, HCA

“The Forum is good every year – very inspiring. I think Roy Lilley was really entertaining, very clever and articulate: to stand there on the stage without notes and keep everyone entertained, as well as getting over the important messages, was superb – and what he said was very powerful. The venue is brilliant – apart from the stairs.”

Martin Cantor, Assistant National Secretary, HCA

“The Forum has been really enjoyable. We’ve been brave and courageous to come over to Northern Ireland and it was the right thing to do to keep the flavour of the ‘4 Nations’. They’ve thrown open their arms and we’ve been welcomed. What we have seen is that the spirit within Ireland and within the Association is well and truly alive and it’s great to be a part of it.”

Phil Shelley, Immediate Past Chair, HCA and Facilities Manager, Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust

“It’s been excellent. I have family roots here in Northern Ireland and it’s lovely to be able to come here again, thanks to the HCA Bursary, and then to be recognised by my peers and to receive the HCA Wilma Wilkie Award – I was well and truly ‘gobsmacked’. It’s been good to see how people operate [in our industry] over here. The organisation has been wonderful – everything has appeared seamless. Elsa and her team have done a wonderful job looking after us and putting together a fantastic programme – thought provoking but very relevant to our times.”

Chris Lay, former Facilities Manager, Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust and winner of the 2017 HCA Wilma Wilkie Award

“It’s very heart-warming to be in our native city and to be full of pride at the work the local Branch has done to bring the Forum here. It’s been extremely jolly despite the fact that there are awful pressures upon people – the Members are right in the middle of difficult times but they keep going and they’re here and relaxed and determined to enjoy themselves. The venue has been great. I’ve been to lots and lots of events here but not of this exact nature – with people moving in an out of the Exhibition and the Forum hall. I think it’s been very well run and we’ve been well looked after – and well fed. Given that it’s not as big as some of the other venues that we’ve used in the past we are indebted to our Suppliers who have packed up and come across to join us.”

Fionnuala Cook OBE, Immediate Past President of the HCA

“It’s lovely to be here is Belfast because it is 30 years since we last came across to the Province and the typical Irish warmth has come through. The fact that we can come here is very special because it shows that Belfast and the Provence has moved on a huge amount from when we were last here. The Europa is an iconic hotel and it has looked after us very well – the standard of food has been very good. The size of the auditorium here made a big difference because sometimes we tend to be in too a big a room – this feels like there’s been a big interest [in the proceedings] the whole time. The numbers of those attending the Sessions has been high throughout the two days which is a reflection of how good the content has been. I’m really pleased because prior to coming I thought the numbers were quite down on previous years. We did expect a bit of a push back [in terms of the number of attendees] because we’ve had to cross water, but the numbers came through in the end.”

Craig Smith, Head of Corporate Affairs, ISS Facility Services Healthcare and HCA Journal Editor

Speaker Feedback

“The organisation has been fantastic – it’s been very smooth and people have treated me so well, which has been lovely. The content of the presentations today (Day 1) has been excellent. I’ve really enjoyed today and I think it highlights how we all work collaboratively, no matter what role we are in to really serve the patients that we look after. It’s been a great day so far.”

Christine Armstrong, Regional Lead for 10,000 Voices and Guest Speaker at Forum 2017

“I suppose I’m not the average Delegate, as I’m nurse giving a speech so it’s probably a little different for me, but I think the Forum has been fab – a great opportunity to network and find out more. Personally I think you could do with a few more clinical people in attendance because you talk about the ‘Power of 3’ and the ‘Last 9 Yards’. Roy Lilley was fantastic – what a brilliant Speaker - in fact all the Speakers have been really good. The only thing I would say is that today [Day 2] there’s a three hour gap with not a lot going on, unless you’re going to the HCA AGM, and a lot aren’t going to it as they’re not actual Members. It might be detrimental to the Forum. It’s a long gap, and I suspect you might find a lot of people leaving early as a result. Possibly they should hold the AGM either first thing in the day or at the end?”

Wendy-Ling Relph, Matron for Nutrition and Quality Improvement, East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust and a Guest Speaker on Day 2

Trade Feedback

“It’s lovely to be here and wonderful to see so many people. It’s so well attended. As normal, fantastically organised. The Presentations have generated a lot of interest – excellent Speakers - and it’s nice to see the Delegates taking time to come and see the Suppliers. As Secretary of the North West Branch I see the Forum from both sides [i.e. Supplier and Delegate] and from my point of view it’s been really, really useful.”

Ita Hicks, Regional Account Manager, Diversey Care and Secretary of the North West Branch of the HCA

“It’s my first time at an HCA Forum and so far it’s been very good. There was a slow start in terms of traffic coming through on Day 1, but I think the way they [the Organisers] corralled people at lunchtime and diverted them to each floor certainly helped. I’ve met some existing customers which is always a good thing but perhaps, more importantly, got about five appointments in the diary for new prospects. So, yes, it ended up being a good day and we’re hoping Day 2 will be more of the same. We’ve already booked for next year.”

Kim Peirson, Business Development Director, Synbiotix Solutions

“I think Fosters have been coming to HCA Conferences for about 30 years. It’s been excellent – a really good networking opportunity for us. Really well attended, well supported by our customers. Good footfall and we look forward to coming next year.”

Paul Holland, Regional Sales Manager, Foster Refrigerator

“It’s been really, really good. There have been more Delegates visiting our Stand than we thought there would be. Everyone’s polite, welcoming – it’s been a real pleasure to be here. We’ve picked up some good leads, which is what it’s all about, seen existing customers which has been nice and they appreciate the fact that we’re here. I’m glad we’re here – we would always support this event.”

Dylan Lloyd Jones, National Account Manager, NH Case

“I’ve been in my post for a year and this is my second HCA Forum. In terms of contacts that we’ve made this time – very similar to last year. It’s a great venue, though logistically it was a bit of a challenge getting our stuff here. Yesterday [Day 1] was a very worthwhile day for us, so we’re very happy. We don’t expect today to be quite as successful – we usually find the second day of an event like this to be a bit quiet, but it’s an opportunity to catch up on emails. The only thing that wasn’t great, from my point of view, was having a different venue for the President’s Dinner. Being bussed out somewhere after a long day, then having to be shipped back again – at that point a lot of people disappeared off into different pubs and I think that the opportunity to network in the hotel bar at that point was lost. But that’s my only criticism.”

Anita Carthew, Business Development Manager, Inhouse Manager

“We used to attend regularly but this is our first HCA event in about three years. We’ve gone through a bit of a turmoil as a business but we’re now back in the market place and we’re hoping to come back next year as well. It seems very similar to all the other Forums we’ve attended, but there’s probably more attendees walking about – the placing of the refreshments [on the Exhibition floors] has probably helped with that – but like all of these things, actually getting people on to your stands is a challenge, to say the least. Attending the evening dinners is a good place to meet people as well – a good ice-breaker – and I think that a dinner the night before the Forum opens would be useful to get people talking and ready for the days ahead. You’ve always got that issue where people may feel you’re being confrontational [i.e. when you approach them from your stand] whereas we just want to see what people’s interests are and if we can be of help, and if we’ve already had that contact in a social setting then it helps to break the ice.

Ashley Wright, Business Unit Manager, Swan Retail

It’s been good – we’ve had an enjoyable few days, met a lot of old friends and some new ones. We’re regulars at this event. In terms of visitors to the stand, it’s been quieter than normal but we expected that because a lot of Suppliers wouldn’t travel – obviously the time and effort involved in coming to Northern Ireland would put them off and also a lot don’t supply this region. The majority of people coming around are from Northern Ireland, but as we do supply Ireland we’re happy to be here.”

Liam Moriarty, Key Account Manager, Socamel UK

“People are engaging quite well, lots of Catering Managers and decision makers are here and are asking lots of questions. It’s my first time [at an HCA Forum] but my colleague was here yesterday who attended last year and she said this event was a little bit quieter in comparison, but we feel it was well worth doing anyway.”

James Farrell, Foodservice Sales, Lakeland Dairies

“We last attended the HCA Conference when it was held at Celtic Manor in Newport [2013]. This year the show has been good in terms of building a rapport with people. As far as actual leads are concerned, it’s difficult to know exactly what will come out of it. The venue has been good, apart from the access – it was a bit tricky getting our stuff in – but overall it’s been a positive show for us. I was a little hesitant as to whether people would come up to see us at this level [Ballroom level] but it’s worked well for us, especially being so close to the Forum Hall. I expect we’ll be back next year – it will be a lot closer to home for us.”

Darryl Devenish, Director, Bridge Valley Beverages

“We’ve been coming to Conference and then the Forum for the past five or six years and this event compares really well. It’s a fabulous show, we’ve had some really good reactions to our products and in particular to our dementia and hydration ranges. We’re always busy, we’ve had some good conversations and we’ll be back again next year. The craic has been good as well.

Kate Hindley, Sales Director, Harfield Tableware.

The venue is good. We particularly like the space we have here [for our stand], but I think the number of Delegates visiting the stand has been a little bit quieter than in previous years. But still, it’s been a good event for us. The organisation has been great and the hotel staff have been brilliant, very helpful. We had an issue with the electrics on Wednesday night [prior to Forum opening] and the electrician came back at 10.30 p.m. to sort it out.”

Rosemarie Hoyle, Divisional Manager Healthcare, apetito

“It’s been a terrific event. The Delegates are very engaging – they visit, they talk to us and the venue has been wonderful. We’ve had a great time.”

Roger Kellow, Government Account Manager, Hobart UK

“We’ve noticed there are far fewer Exhibitors than in previous years, presumably that’s from a logistics point of view. But it’s good to see all the Trusts that have been here. From a networking point of view it’s a great opportunity once a year to have all the right people in one place. That’s been really beneficial. They’ve been very receptive and actively come to see us and we’ve not had to go chasing them which has been great. It’s been a little bit slower today [Day 2] but still, there’s been a good vibe.”

Stephen Hurley, Customer Development Manager, Britvic Soft Drinks

“It’s been fantastic – a brilliant opportunity to network. As Catering Dietitians there is a small network of us working for different contract caterers so it’s a nice opportunity for us all to get together because we don’t usually get to meet each other. The Exhibition has been great - extensive – we came to find information about new sandwiches and we’ve managed to pick up some brochures so that has been useful.

The Sessions have been really motivating, although it would be nice to have more emphasis on food. But sometimes as Dietitians we tend to focus only on the patients and food and occasionally we need to take a step back and look at the overall picture. So it’s been quite useful in that respect.”

Rupi Valentine, Dietitian, OCS and Jo Greening, Dietitian, Aramark UK

“We haven’t had the number of customers attend our stand this year and I think that’s due to the geographic location. There aren’t so many customers here from the UK because of the travelling involved. It’s been quieter than in previous years. If you hold it in a central location like Birmingham then you get people coming from all over. But that’s no criticism of the way the event has been run – it’s been very well organised, the hotel has been great and I particularly enjoyed the visit to the Belfast Titanic Museum.”

Catherine Fletcher, Regional Sales Manager – South West England, Central and Southern Wales, Burlodge

“I’d have preferred it if we [the Exhibitors] had all been on one level. We’re on the second level, so people have had to come upstairs and we’ve felt a little isolated from the bulk of the potential customers. We’ve had reasonable footfall but I think it could have been better.”

Gerard Murphy, Stephens Catering Equipment