Carers asked to help design support services

Posted on: 29 April 2016

Devon County Council and the NHS are asking carers what they think excellent carers’ services would look like in Devon.

The organisations, which form the Devon Carers Partnership, are thinking now about the support services that they’ll be tendering again for in future, so they’ve arranged events around the county to ask carers what they think.

Carers can be all ages, but for this research they’re specifically interested in what adult carers of adults think about support available to them.

They want carers to tell them about key aspects of the support they’d like, including how best to provide information and advice to carers; what’s the best way to get in touch with carers; what sort of training do carers think they’d benefit from having; how can carers support each other better; and what support is best to help carers deal with problems when they arise.

The events are at:

Barnstaple Library on the Wednesday 4 May, 10 am to 4pm
Exeter Isca Centre on Tuesday 17 May, 10am to 4pm
Newton Abbot Library on Tuesday 24 May, 10am to 4pm
Tavistock Town Hall on Thursday 16 June, 10am to 4pm
Ivybridge Watermark Centre on Thursday 23 June, 10am to 4pm

Part of the difficulty is in reaching carers to tell them about support that’s available. A lot of carers don’t necessarily see themselves as being a carer, and many are not aware that they can get help with their caring role.

Devon Carers, the service jointly commissioned by Devon County Council, NEW Devon CCG and South Devon and Torbay CCG, provides support to about 19,000 carers in Devon, but the latest census suggests that there are around 84,000 carers living in the county.

The numbers of carers known to the authorities is rising, but evidently there are a lot of carers that aren’t accessing support that’s available to them.

Anna Schlapp is a carer, and she’s one of many who also help the County Council and the NHS to provide support to other carers. She said:

“Support for Carers in Devon is good, and is constantly being developed and updated to make improvements. These drop in events are an excellent chance for carers to have their say on how we can make existing services even better in Devon. We value your input, and want to encourage many carers to participate, so please do come along.”

Cllr Stuart BarkerCouncillor Stuart Barker, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for adult social care and health, said:

“So many carers get on with caring each day with little help and little recognition for the valuable work they’re doing. It might not seem like a job to them, but caring is hard work, physically and mentally, and while they’re busy caring for someone else, they are often neglecting their own needs.

“Devon Carers does a great job in identifying carers in the first place, and then in promoting a wide range of support that is available to them in their local communities.

“Every few years we look at whether that support is helping people enough, or whether it could be better. We ask carers what they think, and to describe what they’d see as being excellent carers services.

“We’ve got drop in events planned over the next few weeks to gather people’s comments. That really valuable feedback, along with looking at what works well in Devon, and the knowledge we have of carer’s needs, will help us write a specification for future contract tenders.”

Extra sessions for hard to reach groups

Two additional sessions have been arranged focusing on particularly hard to reach groups: Proportionally fewer men take up carers services than women, so the Partnership wants to hear from male carers about how they could be better supported; Working age carers are also less represented proportionally among carers seeking support.

The two small group sessions are both in Exeter on Wednesday 15 June:

Better support for male carers: 1:30pm to 3:30pm
Working age carers: 6pm to 8pm

For more details about either of these two sessions call Heather Spackman or Sally O’Donnell on 01392 383000 or email

If you are a carer, or if you know somebody young or old who provides unpaid care to someone else, visit the Devon Carers website to find out what support is available.

Respite support can be arranged for any carers who may want to attend any of the listening events by calling Heather Spackman or Sally O’Donnell on 01392 383000 or email

Posted in: Community