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Adult Social Care Involvement and Equality

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, to ensure we learn from experiences of those people we support.

This page outlines our approach to engagement and contains links to pages giving more details of the ways in which we involve people in adult care and health issues.

Types of engagement activity

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.

Methods of engagement include:

·    individual interviews

·    filmed case studies

·    discussion forums

·    issue-based focus groups

·    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 commission part of the local authority. 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

·    Robert Hawken – Engagement Officer/Co-chair of the Learning Disability Partnership Board

·    Joanne Haynes – Commissioning Support Assistant

We can be contacted via our mailbox:


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 we undertake on an ad hoc basis.


Relevant DCC forums and groups

Here is more detailed information about the main forums and groups used to gain insight into adult care and health issues:

JEF – Joint Engagement Forum

A quarterly gathering of service users, carers and relevant organisational representatives which reviews ongoing involvement activities by DCC and the two NHS CCGs.

LDPB – Learning Disability Partnership Board

A two-monthly Board combining people with learning disabilities, carers, relevant providers and health and social care managers.

AIG – Autism Involvement Group

A specialist forum for people with autism, ADHD and related conditions and their carers, usually meeting every two months.

CIG – Commissioning Involvement Group

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.

Reshaping Personal Care Group

A group of service users and carers established to help implementation of the Living Well At Home contract for regulated personal care. This group meets when required.

Equality Reference Group

A corporate DCC forum of people from organisations representing each characteristic protected by the Equality Act 2010, which meets 6 times a year.

Autism Partnership Board

A service user and a carer representative are supported to sit on this board, where they provide insight from their lived experience and discussions at the Autism Involvement Group.

Carers Ambassadors and Carers Partnership Forum

A number of carers have been recruited as local Carer Ambassadors who can represent the views of carers and help shape the development of services. Some Carer Ambassadors sit on the Carers Partnership Forum.

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.

Co-Production Task and Finish Group

Commissioning Involvement Group has set up a task and finish group with the aim to change the culture in DCC so that co-production is fundamental to the commissioning process.

Here is the Social Care Institute for Excellence guide to co-production:

Co Production In Social Care

For more information or questions please contact Kath Bird on or 07713590771


Involvement partners

Living Options Devon provide the Devon Engagement Service as holders of the local engagement contract jointly commissioned by Devon County Council, Northern, Eastern and Western Devon NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (NEW Devon CCG), and South Devon and Torbay NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (S. Devon and Torbay CCG). Living Options are required to maintain a network of organisations and individuals who can give us insight into the 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 organisation for the Devon County Council local authority area.

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

·    Living Options Devon

·    Healthwatch Devon


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 have therefore developed a policy which we apply to our engagement activities and forums to ensure that people can make their views known to us with an understanding of our ability to respond to their comments. This covers ‘reasonable adjustments’ to enable participation, payment of expenses and 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 interpretation and advice on The Gunning Principles…

The Gunning Principles – Implications

Local Government Association (LGA) guidance on engagement:–08e.pdf


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. Here is one version of the participation ladder as interpreted by the NHS.

NHS England’s Ladder of Participation and Engagement

Planning for Participation


Easy-read information for people with learning disabilities

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.


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.

Adult Social Care Survey

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.

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.

Social Care Survey

NHS Digital publish the survey results nationally

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.

Carers Survey

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:


Quick Links

Adult Social Care and Health


Useful Links For Social Care and Health Involvement