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Adult Social Care Involvement and Equality

Image of a group of diverse people

Devon County Council is committed to enabling people who receive our support to have their say in the planning, commissioning and provision of services, whenever possible. We have a number of different ways of engaging with service users and carers and the wider public, so we learn from their experience of adult social care. This page outlines our approach to engagement and the ways in which we involve people in adult care and health issues.

How we help people have their say

The ways in which we listen to service users and carers vary depending on the type of service and the changes we are making to it. We work out which aspects of service development can realistically be influenced by the people receiving those services and the best way to enable them to have their say.

Types of activities:

  •  discussion forums
  •  issue-based focus groups
  •  filmed case studies
  •  service user involvement in recruitment and selection
  •  task-and-finish and other working groups
  •  surveys
  •  mystery shopping
  •  participation in board meetings
  •  public meetings
  •  participation in procurement processes
  • and more.

How we undertake these activities

Adult social care engagement within Devon County Council (DCC) is co-ordinated by DCC’s Involvement & Equality Team, based within the adult commissioning part of DCC. We work in partnership with Living Options Devon as holders of a contract to provide local engagement activities, and we undertake some activities ourselves. We also commission Healthwatch Devon, the local statutory consumer voice organisation and work with the County Council’s independent Equality Reference Group.

The Involvement and Equality Team

The Adult Social Care and Health Involvement Team consists of:

Paul Giblin – Involvement and Equality Manager
Kathryn Bird – Senior Involvement and Equality Officer
Sally O’Donnell – Involvement and Equality Officer, Learning Disability Specialist
Robert Hawken – Engagement Officer/Co-chair of the Learning Disability Partnership Board
Joanne Haynes – Commissioning Support Assistant
KC Williams – Customer And Support Apprentice
Lauren Slack – Customer And Support Apprentice
Jean Almond – Joint Commissioning Engagement Manager, NHS Devon and DCC

Contact the team at:

Making involvement meaningful

In order to enable service users, carers and the wider public to have their say on adult care and health, the Involvement Team work with other managers to identify aspects of our services that people can realistically influence. This ranges from seeking feedback on high-level strategies, such as Living Well with a Learning Disability in Devon, to undertaking detailed co-production of aspects of our service provision, such as developing new assessment forms.

We organise regular forums for engagement, such as the Learning Disability Partnership Board, and a range of other groups and activities which take place  on an ad hoc basis.

What people have told us about the pandemic

We have asked Living Options Devon to find out how people who use Adult Social Care services and people with characteristics protected under the Equality Act have been affected by the pandemic.  Here are their reports, along with some other key findings from our partners.

Reports on the impact of the pandemic

Regular Meetings and Forums dates

Click image to find dates of all meetings

Here is information about the main forums and groups used to gain insight into adult care and health issues, which are meeting virtually at the moment.

The Joint Engagement Forum (JEF)
A quarterly gathering of service users, carers and relevant organisational representatives which reviews ongoing involvement activities by DCC and NHS Devon CCG.

The Learning Disability Partnership Board (LDPB)
A two-monthly Board combining people with learning disabilities, carers, relevant providers and health and social care managers.

The Autism Involvement Group (AIG)
A specialist forum for people with autism, ADHD and related conditions and their carers, usually meeting every two months.

The Commissioning Involvement Group  (CIG)
A group of people with lived experience of receiving social care services and equality issues who can give us in-depth insight into the effects of changes being made to social care and health. This group meets when required and exact member varies according to the issues being discussed.

The Co-Production Working Group
The Commissioning Involvement Group has set up this group with the aim to change the culture in DCC so that co-production is fundamental to the commissioning and planning processes.

For more information about co-production in Devon please contact Kath Bird on

Co-production is a key concept in the development of public services. It has the potential to make an important contribution to all of the big challenges that face adult social care. It is about developing more equal partnerships between people who use services, carers and professionals, as explained in the  Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) guide to co-production

The Equality Reference Group – (ERG)
A corporate DCC forum made up of people from organisations representing each characteristic protected by the Equality Act 2010, which meets 6 times a year.

Carer Ambassadors and the Carers Partnership Steering Group
Devon Carers, holders of the carers support contract, recruit Carer Ambassadors who are able to represent the view of carers as well as being active in their local communities. A number of Carer Ambassadors sit on the Carers Partnership Steering Group.

The Health and Wellbeing Board
The Joint Engagement Forum has a seat on the statutory Health and Wellbeing Board to represent the perspective of social care service users and carers, and Healthwatch Devon has a seat on the board to represent the perspective of the wider public.

The HOPE (Help Overcome Problems Effectively) Programme
We are helping to spread the HOPE programme in Devon. Designed by Coventry University, the programme helps people struggling with long term health conditions to build confidence and self-manage their conditions more effectively.

For more information please contact Kath Bird on

Mental Health Engagement
Mental Health services are delivered and jointly commissioned by Devon Partnership NHS Trust who have developed the LEAP programme for service user engagement.

 Dementia Engagement
We are refreshing our joint engagement with people with dementia and their carers, to inform further development of support, including Memory Cafes.

The Older People’s Project
The Older Person’s Project set up to deliver all forms of engagement opportunities with Partners Age UK Devon.

Involvement contracts

Living Options Devon hold a contract with DCC and NHS Devon to help us listen to the people we support. Living Options are required to maintain a network of organisations and individuals who can share their lived experience of receiving adult social care, including people with characteristics protected by the Equality Act 2010.

We commission Healthwatch Devon as the statutory health and social care consumer voice organisation for the Devon County Council area.

Find out more about Living Options Devon and Healthwatch Devon below:

Jargon Buster

Below, we have included a link to a page that contains clearer explanations to acronyms and jargon that you may come across when you are reading information on our web site, more information will be added to this over time.

Jargon Buster 

Policy and Principles for adult social care and health involvement

National Cabinet Office guidance requires consultation, engagement and involvement to be ‘reasonable and proportionate’ to the subject matter being engaged on. We do our best to enable people to have a say in keeping with the spirit of the above statement. This involves making ‘reasonable adjustments’ to enable participation, paying expenses and agreeing codes of conduct.

Principles supporting good consultation

Government guidance published by the Cabinet Office in 2016…

Consultation Principles 2016

Consultation Principles updated 2018

We follow The Gunning Principles for effective consultation…

The Gunning Principles

The Consultation Institute’s guide to The Gunning Principles

Local Government Association (LGA) guidance on engagement

NHS England’s Ladder of Participation and Engagement

We do our best to look for opportunities to maximise the way in which service users and carers can influence adult social care services, and support work at all levels of the various ‘ladders of participation’, from information-giving at the bottom to empowered co-production at the top.

NHS England’s Ladder of Participation and Engagement

NHS guide to Planning for Participation

Easy Read

In order to empower people with learning disabilities by enabling to understand as much as possible, written documents are produced in Easy Read format. Easy Read makes use of pictures, symbols and photographs along with jargon-free text in short sentences. We advise and train staff on use of Easy Read, produce key documents ourselves in that format and administer the licences to enable staff to use Photosymbols software to produce their own Easy Read documents, such as minutes of safeguarding meetings. We have also created Easy Read versions of care management forms in co-production with people with learning disabilities.

Click image to find the Easy Read Learning Disability web pages

NHS Accessible Information Standard

All organisations that provide NHS care and / or publicly-funded adult social care are legally required to follow the Accessible Information Standard.

Statutory Surveys

We administer two national surveys on behalf of Devon County Council. The annual Social Care Survey of Service Users and the bi annual Carers Survey.

Report which contains findings from the Adult Social Care Survey 2019/2020

2021/22 Statutory Surveys

This national survey takes place every year and is conducted by Councils with Adult Social Services Responsibilities (CASSRs). The survey seeks the opinions of service users aged 18 and over in receipt of long-term support services funded or managed by social services and is designed to help the adult social care sector understand more about how services are affecting lives to enable choice and for informing service development. It covers all service users aged 18 and over in receipt, at the point that data are extracted, of long-term support services funded or managed by social services following a full assessment of need. It seeks to learn more about how effectively services are helping service users to live safely and independently in their own homes, and the impact that these services have on their quality of life. Adult Social Care User Survey (ASCS) 2019-20 is currently taking place.

User experience information is critical for understanding the impact of services, for enabling choice and for informing service development. Data from this survey enables councils to benchmark against their peers and to gather information to support their local commissioning, performance and strategy. The survey also supplies data for a number of measures in the Adult Social Care Outcomes Framework.

NHS Digital publish the survey results nationally.

Survey of Adult Carers in England, 2018-19 (SACE) Survey of Adult Carers

The survey of Adult Carers in England (SACE) is a biennial survey.  Carers are sent questionnaires, issued by Councils with Adult Social Services Responsibilities (CASSRs) to seek their opinions on a number of topics that are considered to be indicative of a balanced life alongside their caring role.  This survey has been developed to learn more about whether services received by carers are helping them in their caring role and their life outside of caring, and also about their perception of the services provided to the person they care for. Carers must be aged 18 or over.  Carers must be caring for a person aged 18 or over who, during the previous 12 months, have been assessed or reviewed by social services, received respite support or received another form of carer support. The survey feeds into monitoring of the impact of the national carers strategy and it will also be used to populate a number of measures in the Adult Social Care Outcomes Framework.

NHS Digital publish the survey results nationally.

Impact Assessment Support

Impact assessments are a way of informing decision-makers of the effect that changes to services will have on people with characteristics protected under the Equality Act 2010 and must be carried out when making significant public-facing decisions. Impact assessments can be used as evidence in court cases as a means of proving that service users and relevant communities have been engaged on the proposed changes so that any potential negative impacts are identified along with the possible action to mitigate them. The Involvement & Equality Team is able to support managers with the production of impact assessments and ensure they are published in the public domain in time to inform the decisions they are covering.

Published impact assessments:

Published impact assessments

Some Quick Links

Adult Social Care and Health public web pages

DFA – Autism Service Guide

Transforming Ageing

Learning Disability Website

Social Care and Health Involvement