15 minutes with: Robert Turnbull

Our experts are on the frontlines of bringing ingenuity to life for our clients. They accelerate new growth ideas from concept, through design and development to commercial success. And they revitalise organisations with the leadership, culture, systems and processes to make innovation a reality.

In this series, you’ll meet some of the brilliant minds creating change every day.

Robert Turnbull
Robert Turnbull helps improve the lives of vulnerable people using innovative technology-enabled care (TEC).

Robert Turnbull leads PA’s care technology work in the UK, which includes the award-winning Argenti partnerships, working to improve the lives of vulnerable people using innovative care technology solutions.

Robert and the team constantly push the boundaries of what’s possible to support people to have better lives in the place they call home. Ahead of the launch of a brand-new report examining the state of the care technology sector, Robert explains how PA’s approach to care technology has been improving the lives of vulnerable people across the UK for over 10 years.

What is your background and how did you come to PA?

My career has been circular, moving from one type of ‘TEC’ to another. I started out supporting unemployed individuals and budding entrepreneurs at a Training Enterprise Council (TEC), igniting their potential. Following this, and after eight years of honing my skills in corporate strategy consulting, I landed at PA nearly two decades ago.

A critical turning point came when I partnered with a leading care technology company to propel their global expansion. Recognising the true impact of care technology lay beyond just the equipment, we championed an approach that positioned care technology (also known as technology-enabled care, and another, very different TEC) as a catalyst for social care transformation. This meant collaborating with councils to optimise service design, foster cultural shifts, and measure the true value delivered – we partnered with the vendor to provide this capability and experience. This ignited a deep interest within me, and for the past 12 years I’ve been focused on unlocking the true power of care technology.

Today, our team spearheads the movement to make care technology a driving force for lasting change in social care, ensuring that those who need it most have the opportunity to benefit.”
Robert Turnbull and colleagues

How would you describe what you do to someone you’d never met before?

Our team improves the lives of some of the most vulnerable people living in our society. We do this through innovative, technology-enabled pathways, services, and solutions that cater to diverse needs and age groups, and help people live in the place they call home for as long as possible.

Our reach stretches beyond the traditional. While we’ve always been champions for older adults and those with physical disabilities, we’ve expanded our impact. We’re actively supporting young adults with learning disabilities, individuals on the autism spectrum, and children. This shift reflects our commitment to providing life-changing solutions regardless of age, outcome, or specific needs.

This isn’t just about deploying care technology; it’s about empowering individuals, fostering independence, and enabling them to remain in their homes.”

How would you say your work has changed over the years?

My journey from strategy consultant to overseeing PA’s care technology work in the UK is marked by one key difference: impact. Our team doesn’t just advise; we directly support tens of thousands of people across the country, day in, day out, finding the best care technology solutions to support them in different ways. The impact is immediate and obviously very personal to the people we help. The shift is profound. It allows us to see the human face behind our work and the transformed lives. This direct connection is fuel for our passion and a constant reminder of the tangible difference we make.

What is the role of ingenuity in the work that you do?

Ingenuity is the cornerstone of everything we do at Argenti. We aren’t content with the status quo; instead, we relentlessly pursue revolutionary approaches to harnessing technology’s power for improved care. Let me give you some examples. We helped people who were socially isolated to reconnect with their families and communities by using consumer devices, a smart speaker. We pioneered the world’s first use of this kind, proving the potential for consumer technology to support social care outcomes. We’ve also worked with collaborative robots in care to support the workforce. And, by recognising the criticality of early intervention, we developed a dementia pathway that equips individuals with care technology the moment they receive their diagnosis, avoiding delays that could hinder adoption and effectiveness.

Robert Turnbull and colleagues

What is different about working with PA?

Forget the cliché – because the real magic at PA really does lie in the people. I’m beyond fortunate to work alongside this incredible team every single day. We’re not just colleagues, we’re a passionate force united by a common goal: doing the right thing.

We forge partnerships with councils to revolutionise the use of care technology, provide support to those in need, and never shy away from tackling complex challenges.

We roll up our sleeves and collaborate closely with social workers, occupational therapists, and various care professionals to ensure technology serves as the foundation for improved social care and health care.”

Within our team, we have a broad range of skills and experience, which means our advisory work is enhanced by the insight and richness you can only get through delivering care technology services for over a decade, and vice versa. In this regard, PA is unique. It’s not just about the work – it’s about the people, the dedication, and the unwavering commitment to making a real difference.

What’s exciting you at the moment within your work?

I’m excited by the surge in momentum surrounding care technology within social care. This isn’t just a passing trend – it’s a transformative wave poised to revolutionise how we deliver health and care.

What fuels my excitement is the potential this presents. Our state of the sector report, “From ambition to action”, a collaborative effort with the TEC Services Association (TSA), revealed a powerful consensus: nearly all UK councils believe care technology is crucial for tackling the social care challenges we face.

This widespread recognition is being translated into action as almost every council surveyed plans to increase their use of care technology within the next year. As an organisation with a proven track record of advising councils on successful care technology implementation (having already guided one out of every five UK councils), we’re well positioned to support them on this journey.

We’re beginning to explore the power of data to shift care towards prevention, for example by proactively addressing issues before they escalate. Just last week, we collaborated with Imperial College London’s leading robotics experts, who have international recognition for their work at the leading edge. Alongside partners like AWS, we’re constantly exploring new solutions like the Wellbeing Automated Call Service (WACS), born during the pandemic and now spawning innovative solutions.

What projects or work are you most proud of?

Two key moments stand out. The first, hosting a Dragons’ Den Challenge as part of our Argenti partnership with a council and a local college. The focus was on unleashing the creative power of social care professionals and future social workers. Fuelled by a shared desire to improve lives through creative uses of technology, each idea reflected deep thought about the challenges faced and potential solutions. One of our ‘dragons’ was a person with lived experience of autism, reminding us to prioritise the user’s perspective in everything we do. It was an inspirational day that left all involved with huge smiles on their faces.

Secondly, in partnership with the TSA, we will unveil our first annual state of the sector report at the upcoming ITEC conference. This year’s conference theme – Empowering People’s Lives: Transforming Futures Through Knowledge, Innovation and Action – perfectly captures the essence of this report and the conference itself. Every one of the 1,500 attendees will receive a hard copy of our research, sparking the crucial conversations that are needed to propel forward the future of our sector.

Robert Turnbull and colleagues

If someone wanted to follow in your footsteps, what advice would you give them?

Social care isn’t easy. It faces immense challenges, but it’s a calling for those who crave purpose. You’ll make a direct and immediate difference in people’s lives, working alongside passionate individuals who share your values. Be an innovator, embrace new ideas, and prepare for dedication and resilience. The rewards are immense, the impact lasting. Social care needs you. So, unleash your inner changemaker and go for it.

What are your key goals for the future?

My goal for the future is to amplify the impact of our work through innovation and collaboration, and we seek progressive councils to join us on that journey. We have some exciting plans that we’re starting to roll out that will help councils take advantage of the opportunities created by the digital migration and support their re-imagining of how technology can reshape social care along the path to prevention.

What are you looking forward to right now?

Our team at PA is fizzing with ideas. This year, it’s all about bringing these ideas to life with our incredible team. We’ve got some exciting things brewing, so stay tuned – we can’t spill the beans just yet.

Speaking of exciting, our state of the sector report is just the tip of the iceberg. I’m eager to see how it lands and how it helps councils navigate the future of care technology. It’s going to be fascinating.

On a personal note, I’m gearing up for a milestone birthday this summer. As my sons also have major birthday milestones (16 and 18), our family has a well-deserved holiday planned. I can’t wait to recharge and make some memories.

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