Carers in Devon, Joint Strategy 2014/19

Carers in Devon - Joint Strategy 2014/19

Please click on the link below to view the strategy.
Carers in Devon, Joint Strategy 2014/19
The Devon Carer's Strategy Board initiated a 'refresh' exercise for the Devon ten-year strategy for carers in Summer 2013.

The exercise involved carers and managers at all stages. To read more about this, see below.

Coming soon: read the minutes of the Devon Carers Strategy Board meetings.

How did we 'refresh' the Devon Joint Carers Strategy?

The carers strategy board initiated a 'refresh' exercise for the Devon ten-year strategy for carers in summer 2013.

The carers strategy board worked closely with a steering group and in a workshop with a wide range of carers.

Views were also gathered through a short questionnaire and a specific workshop for black and minority ethnic carers.

We are very grateful for the hard work of many carers which we think has improved the draft and given us a substantial degree of confidence that we have identified the right direction of travel

Carers strategy board leaders

Implementation planning workshop: 12 June 2014

On 12 June 2014, during Carers Week, the Devon Carers Strategy Board, with Dr Simon Kerr and Ian Hobbs (DCC) held an implementation planning workshop. 

Further discussions with carers took place during the consultation period on:

  • County Carers Conference - 12 November
  • Carers Rights Day - 29 November.

Carers strategy delivery board (CSDB) workshop: 2 October 2013

In June 2013 the Devon CSDB authorised two exercises:

1. To review engagement for carers
2. To refresh the carers strategy, which is approaching the half-way point in its ten year life.

On 2 October 2013 the CSDB invited a number of managers and carers to join members of the board to contribute to two tasks:

1. To create a shared vision for engagement for wider discussion with carers and services on which a re- designed engagement framework can be later designed
2. To produce a draft refreshed carers strategy for broader consultation.

The event took place at Exeter City Football Club and was chaired by the CSDB chair Ian Hobbs, senior commissioning manager, Devon County Council, supported by Dr Simon Kerr, clinical lead for carers (NHS NEW Devon CCG).
Preparation and design of the workshop

The day, and the events leading to it, were planned to be co-productions between the agencies and carers.

A steering group consisting of carers and the carers lead (Sue Younger-Ross) met four times prior to the event. This group focussed principally on producing a draft refreshed strategy for consideration on 2 October, and also reviewed and planned for the engagement review.

A short questionnaire on engagement was circulated widely via:

  •  Devon Carers newsletter
  •  Devon Carers Voice membership
  •  locality forums and CSDB locality groups
  •  selected key managers in health and social care services
  •  advertising through Village Voice and Healthwatch.

In addition:

  • a special working day for black and minority ethnic (BME) carers was held, covering both the strategy and engagement, facilitated by Healthwatch
  • a discussion was held at a meeting of the Young Carers Council.
The preparation and design was undertaken bearing in mind the Public Sector Equality Duty.

Carers were informed of the work and given opportunities to be involved through the Devon Carers newsletter which goes to all carers in touch with Devon Carers (all care groups, all adult age groups and all localities).

The needs of young carers were specifically taken into account, as were those from BME communities.

The needs of carers who are (or who are carers of people) who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual or Trans-gendered and people who are from travelling communities are still being addressed at the point in the work at which this report is written.

In addition carers from North Devon who had furthest to travel were given additional assistance with transport; the needs of working carers (and carers who wish to work) and of carers in deep rural areas are also under consideration.
Framing the day:

It was decided to use a positive approach throughout (“Appreciative Inquiry”).

Throughout, participants were encouraged to consider what was good, and what would be better by re-framing any negative experiences into positive suggestions of “what would be better”.

“Visioning” the best possible engagement scenarios was done by drawing pictures, to utilise more “brain power” and descriptions were written as if they were already happening (using the present tense).

This feature releases and maintains energy, and encourages a “can-do” approach to improvement. These are both important aspects of the chosen approach.

Agenda design: 

The workshop was designed as a series of quick, short exercises on both the engagement (morning) and strategy (afternoon) sessions.
The material to be worked on was printed in large format to encourage group working and interaction.

Work was conducted at work-stations and tables. The number of work stations was limited for practical reasons (four workstations to 10 tables).

The workshop was highly focussed, so it was realised that participants might have issues they wished to raise but which were outside the scope of the day. An “Ice Box” flip chart was provided for participants to use to record these issues and “keep them fresh” until they can be addressed.

As it was intended to encourage all those in positions of influence to consider how to start making improvements two further features were included:

a) An “offers and requests” flip chart where participants who could either: make an offer in respect of further implementing the strategy or improving engagement; or make a request for assistance in doing so.
b) Personal commitments sheets, to enable participants to record up to three things they could personally do to take forward the work of the day. These were placed in sealed envelopes with their return addresses, to be returned three months after the event as a personal reminder. (31 were received).

From the informal feedback and the limited number of valuation and learning feedback forms received at the time of writing this account the event was well valued. What would be even better next time might be:

  • An equal number of workstations and tables would be ideal, also allowing those who find standing for longer periods difficult easier access
  • A reduction in the activity required in the afternoon (in comparison with the workshop)
  • Greater clarity that there was no expectation on carers to undertake any additional activities (personal commitments) to implement agreements on the day
  • To find a way of recognising that participants there in a professional role may also be carers.


One third of participants were present in their role as a carer. The other two thirds were managers from the statutory and voluntary sector agencies in Devon concerned with carers, present in their work roles. Some of these were also carers.

Engagement session

The session commenced work using:

  • The responses of carers and managers to the short questionnaire - on which preliminary analysis had been undertaken
  • Information on current levels of involvement with Devon Carers Voice, carer forums and conferences
  • Information from the BME workshop relating to engagement
  • The final report on the questionnaire, which included a “roadmap” of existing arrangements.

Participants further analysed and summarised the responses of carers and managers into a single stream of responses in groups; these were to be written in positive language, expressing what makes for excellent engagement, and with any difficulties expressed re-framed into proposals about what would be better.

Participants were asked to express these in the present tense, as though they were already happening.

Participants then prioritised which statements seemed most important to carry forward into the next exercise. Carers and managers had different coloured voting dots for transparency and so each could more easily see any difference in perspectives.

Participants then drew on the morning’s work to envision what excellent carer engagement would look like (as though it were already happening), expressing these in drawings.

These drawings were again in their turn voted on (participants were not allowed to vote for their own drawing).

All the outputs will be used in the design stage which will also include carers and managers.
Strategy session

The strategy session worked from selected sections of the draft strategy which covered:

  • A re-statement of the principles of the Devon Strategy, and a chart illustrating “working with carers in Devon”, showing that many carers in Devon currently only receive informal support from friends, family, community, and from very local voluntary organisations
  • Information about views put forward by carers (to CSDB over the last year, and in the steering group)
  • Key areas for development identified by partner agencies.
  • Areas for focussed development - ideas drawn from the first three areas towards an action plan.

Other resources available were:

- Outputs from the BME carers workshop on services.
- Healthwatch Devon - concerns raised by carers.
- The Carers Trust Hub chart for commission for carers.
Participants were asked to review each section of the strategy in turn, considering whether it was clear and complete, annotating anything they thought was wrong, adding anything they felt was missing (in the same positive terms as in the morning).

Participants worked in table groups and were asked to reach agreement in their groups, recording anything that was not agreed distinctly. Only one “minority report” was recorded. 
Finally, participants prioritised the “areas for focussed development” list, as amended.
The top six areas in the voting were:

1. Support to manage the transition to the new welfare benefits system.
2. Young carers - transitions and pressure points such as exams.
3. Bookable respite care on the basis of need.
4. Using commissioning powers to improve the routine approaches of services (e.g. hospitals) to carers.
5. Improve information - improve the community directory with a dedicated section for carers.
6. Emphasis on whole family support.

These priorities were considered as advisory in the consultation and implementation planning stages of the strategy.

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