Making BGS conferences family-friendly

29 May 2019

Geraint Collingridge is Director of Learning and Professional Development at the BGS. He has worked in both commercial and charitable organisations within the healthcare industry. He has been with the BGS since 2011 and very much enjoys supporting its members and service users to better deliver high-quality healthcare to older people. He is currently responsible for all the BGS's conferences and e-learning modules as well as line managing the conference and membership team. 

Accommodating children at BGS conferences. Why hasn’t it been done, when “X” has done it?

There are several important reasons why we haven’t yet done it. Mostly it came down to cost and not knowing how many people will use this facility. To provide a dedicated creche facility for a Spring or Autumn national meeting, when costed was in the tens of thousands of pounds. The cost of setting up responsible, approved childcare professionals so you can attend the sessions while your child is cared for is substantial. Not knowing how many people would need this until shortly before the conference, as that’s when most people register, as well meant it was very challenging.

The costs would have need to be transferred on to delegates by raising registration fees or charging for individual creche users. For the Special interest meetings, nation or region meetings this cost is even more prohibitive. We have around 48 meetings a year and as the conference team at the BGS is just Julie and myself, well supported by some time from our 9 colleagues, delivering this was again a significant challenge on top of delivering high quality, affordable education.

What about live streaming to a room?

For family-friendly spaces, with live streaming of the talks, not all venues can support this. We need an additional room, with easy access to toilets and places to buy food, as well as to setup the night before or early morning the equipment and technical support. Again additional costs are incurred to do so. This is in the low thousands of pounds. With no guarantee of attracting more sponsorship, and a strong desire not to raise registration fees it’s been difficult to achieve.

Good news though - we plan to introduce this in the near future (end of 2019). We aim to do so for the Improving Continence in Older People meeting, 20th Falls and Postural Stability conference and 2019 Autumn meeting in Leicester. For 2020 we aim for this to be a requirement by default for the major conferences the BGS hosts, particularly the Trainees Weekend in Glasgow, but will be subject to the factors outlined. We’ll keep you informed – make sure you’ve updated your communication preferences.

Why can’t I attend with my child anyway?

You can, in most cases.

Please contact us via conferences [at] bgs [dot] org [dot] uk  or call 0207 608 1369 to discuss.  Our message to those who wish to attend with children is usually please do but within certain restrictions.

We will always do our best to accommodate children within the meeting space we have and ask that you are accompanied by a partner, family member or carer so you can attend the sessions.

Some venues will prohibit us as well.

We won’t charge for partners to be present but we can’t guarantee you’ll be able to sit in the sessions with your child(ren) all the time. We know this might not be adequate enough in all cases, and do ask for your understanding on this. 

What about pumping/feeding?

Again we work within the constraints of the venue to accommodate where possible. We’ll try our best to offer a suitable environment, and you letting us know in advance will help us do this.

When have children last attended?

We’ve had parents and children attend both Spring and Autumn Meetings in 2018 and 2019, most of our specialty meetings, our Trainees’ Weekend and G4J as well as some nation and region meetings.

Why don’t I know this?

Make sure you’ve updated your communication preferences… and we aim to include information on this

  • On the programme
  • Registration form
  • Event webpage
  • E-Bulletins
  • Twitter

In summary...

  • We’ve listened to your feedback, and plan to introduce family-friendly space that has access to live streams of the talks at most major meetings.
  • All meetings should allow you to attend with children, and we plan to communicate this as best we can on the event page and agenda.
  • We know its important to our changing workforce and we ask that you understand we work within several constraints that limit us.
  • Let us know in advance if you will attend with young children and we’ll accommodate as best we can – we want to see you (and them).

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