Candour Conversations

At Paragon Skills we are passionate about apprenticeships and the value that they bring to both the apprentice and the business in which the apprentice is working. We are one of the largest care specialist apprenticeship providers in the UK and we have over 20 years’ of experience in delivering award-winning training. Candour Conversations looks at the industry as a whole and addresses industry-specific news, advancements and concerns whilst highlighting the benefits of the modern apprenticeship in the workplace. Not your average care industry podcast. Join Paragon Skills host Lee I’Anson as he interviews the industry-leading professionals to bring you…

  • The latest insights
  • Actionable advice you can use right away
  • Real-life experiences

Episode Nine

Accounting for Care with Levy Pledges with Andy Ross – Caroola Group

This episode features Andy Ross, the CEO of the Caroola Group, delves deeper into the concept of gifting the apprenticeship levy. This innovative approach involves transferring the levy funds, typically used by businesses for training, to other organisations, in this case, the childcare sector. By doing so, the Caroola Group aims to address the workforce shortage in the childcare sector by funding apprenticeships and nurturing future talent.

The conversation with Andy Ross sheds light on the motivations behind this initiative, its potential impact on the childcare sector, and the broader implications for apprenticeship schemes and skills development within the care industry.


Episode eight

How Workforce Data is Improving Care Homes with Will Fenton and Mark Moulding

Data is essential for improving the quality of care in care homes. It can be used to track residents’ health and wellbeing, identify areas for improvement, and plan and deliver personalised care.

The Adult Social Care Workforce Data Set (ASC-WDS) is a free online data collection service that covers the adult social care workforce in England.

The service helps care providers run their business and manage their staff training needs. It can also provide access to the Workforce Development Fund, a valuable source of funding for staff training.

The data collected is vital to the Government, the Department of Health and Social Care, local authorities and the Care Quality Commission as it allows them to plan, fund and monitor the sector.

To find out more head over to


Episode Seven 

Supporting mental health in the workplace with Mark Topps


Promoting a supportive and inclusive work environment that prioritises mental health is essential for the well-being and productivity of employees in the care workplace.

Today I am joined by Mark Topps. Mark is an award-winning social care leader who has spent over seventeen years working within the industry having gained experience in various roles across both healthcare and social care. Mark is passionate about improving the sector, both for the people accessing services and for those working within it. Mark is the Regional Business Manager for Essex Cares Limited, overseeing the reablement service with the local authority and has a care column with Log My Care as well as being a founding member of ‘The Caring View’ YouTube show, founding member of ‘The Health and Social Care Club’ on Clubhouse and the director at NACAS (National Association of Care and Support Workers), leading on their Marketing and Communications.


Episode six

Shifting Negative Attitudes Towards Dementia with Cheryl Baird


Dementia is an umbrella term for a range of progressive disorders affecting the brain, including Alzheimer’s disease.

Today I am joined by Cheryl Baird, Director of Quality and Care at Orchard Homes. Cheryl has 28 years experience in health and Social Care and has worked as a registered nurse in both the NHS and social care. Cheryl oversees care quality and compliance for Orchard Care Homes. As part of her role, Cheryl is responsible for all clinical and care strategies and Orchards new dementia promise. Key elements of these are enabling excellent resident outcomes, including safe and effective medication management which has led to a reduction in psychotropic medications being prescribed.


Episode five

The Importance of Vision, Values and Culture in Care with Lucy Buxton


Vision, values and culture are all essential components of a healthy workplace. A clear vision provides direction and purpose to employees, guiding their efforts towards a shared goal.

Values define the fundamental beliefs and principles that guide decision-making and behaviour in the workplace, establishing a moral compass for employees.

Today I am joined by Lucy Buxton. Lucy desires to inspire, empower and support individuals and businesses to achieve their goals in an ever-changing world.



Episode four

Ageing Population’s Impact on Healthcare with George Appleton.


The population of England and Wales has continued to age, with Census 2021 results confirming there are more people than ever before in older age groups. Over 11 million people – 18.6% of the total population – were aged 65 years or older, compared with 16.4% at the time of the previous census in 2011.

There are many challenges that come with an ageing population. One of the most significant is the strain that it places on healthcare and social care services.

How is this currently affecting the healthcare sector?
What actions can the healthcare sector take now to address this?


Episode Three

Recruiting Young Talent with guest Conor Cotton, Managing Director at Not Going To Uni.


As every business leader knows, the future of any company lies with its people. Investing in school leavers and early career talent can pay dividends long-term, but how can recruiters tap into the potential of the next generation of workers?

Not Going To Uni is the UK’s leading website for school & college leavers looking at alternatives to a traditional university course such as Apprenticeships, Work Experience, Sponsored Degrees, Traineeships, College Courses, and entry-level jobs.

Join us as we talk to Conor Cotton, Managing Director at Not Going To Uni,  about making the most of this untapped resource.


Episode Two

Understanding the Levy Transfer with Ajay Purbhoosing (London Progression Collaboration).


Large employers that pay the apprenticeship levy can choose to transfer up to 25% of their levy funds each year to other businesses, to pay for their apprenticeship training and assessment. Transferring levy funds is a way of supporting other businesses by deciding which sectors, skills or local areas you’d like to fund. So why are so many of these available funds going to waste?

Join us as we talk to Ajay Purbhoosing from London Progression Collaboration as we talk about how you can make the most out of the Levy Transfer Scheme.


Episode one 

Leadership Qualities in Care with guest speaker Lisa Di-Fonzo.


Leaders and managers need the experience and ability to run a successful care business. This means understanding CQC standards; creating performance goals and clear lines of accountability; being proactive and making use of the whole team. In this first episode we are joined by Lisa Di-Fonzo, Quality Improvement Coordinator for Care at Paragon Skills, and talk about the Leadership Qualities Framework and how these principles can make a huge impact on the health and social care sector.


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