Giving people a voice to influence positive change in health and social care

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Somerset Carers Engagement Project

Workshop event (September 2023)

Collaborative event sets the stage for renewed commitment to Somerset’s unpaid carers​

Embedding user involvement and consultation in the service development process case study

We recently achieved a significant milestone in our mission to empower and support unpaid carers across the county by holding a major collaborative event to inform Somerset’s renewed Commitment to Carers​.

We brought together over 130 different stakeholders, including unpaid carers, professionals from health and social care and decision-makers from Somerset Council and NHS Somerset.  The aim of the workshop was to ensure the voices of unpaid carers, both adults and young carers, are heard and used to shape the direction of health and social care services in Somerset.

The event featured a diverse and engaging programme, including keynote addresses from key figures such as Councillor Heather Shearer, Associate Lead Member for Somerset Council Children’s Social Care & SEND; Jonathan Higman, Chief Executive of NHS Somerset; and Paul Coles, Service Director for Adult Social Care Commissioning in Somerset. There were insightful and moving presentations from carers and those who work to support carers, and expert presentations and discussions on various aspects of unpaid caregiving.

Left to right: Alison Birkett, who read her poem, ‘Where is my man’, about caring for her husband who had dementia; Andrew Henon, Somerset Carers Engagement Project Lead; Siana Paginton, who shared her story of being a young carer; Councillor Heather Shearer, Associate Lead Member for Childrens Social Care & SEND; Gill Keniston-Goble, Healthwatch Somerset Manager; and Jonathan Higman, Chief Executive NHS Somerset.

Siana Paginton shared her moving story of growing up as a young carer. She highlighted the impact this had on her wellbeing, education and career choices, and explained how social care and support, when it eventually arrived, made such a positive difference.

Highlights from the event

  • Facilitated conversations: Participants engaged in open and group conversations, sharing personal accounts, perspectives and visions for the future of unpaid care in Somerset.
  • Young carers focus: Special sessions were dedicated to understanding the unique needs and perspectives of young carers, ensuring their inclusion in the commitment to carers initiative.
  • Addressing challenges: Sessions explored the challenges and issues faced by parent carers, strategies for removing barriers to inclusion, and the importance of collaboration across sectors.
  • Future planning: The event concluded with a forward-looking session led by Andrew Henon, Somerset Carers Engagement Project Lead, emphasising the commitment to embedded practice, co-production, and continuous improvement.

Next steps

Feedback and findings from the event have been analysed and combined with other evidence, data and reports, including insight gained by talking to carers across Somerset and case studies of unpaid carers’ experiences. This evaluation report informed the final Commitment to Carers, which was formally adopted by the Somerset Integrated Care Board (ICB) in March 2024.


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“The collaborative working event marked a crucial step towards renewing our commitment to unpaid carers in Somerset. The valuable insights gained from diverse perspectives will contribute significantly to shaping the ‘Commitment to Carers 2024’, ensuring it reflects the needs and aspirations of our community. I want to thank everyone who attended on the day and helped make it such an energising and valuable event, as well as the many carers who could not join us due their caring responsibilities, but who have contributed in other ways.”

Andrew Henon

Somerset Carers Engagement Lead

Contact us

For more information about the project contact:

Andrew Henon, Project Lead
Phone 07506 679103

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