Purpose – There has been considerable discussion about the benefits of health and social care integration over the last decade but less research on the purpose and effectiveness of carer and user involvement in service changes and service evaluation. The paper aims to report the findings of a study of two learning disabilities services in Wales that undertook co-location in a children development centre. Design/methodology/approach – The study investigated whether carers of children with learning disabilities had any knowledge of organisational changes that occurred as a result of co-locating services. The study used a mixed method approach. The authors conducted semi-structured interviews with all parental representatives on the service planning groups and then asked local staff to facilitate a survey to parents of children with learning disabilities in their area. Findings – Carers in both locations were mainly unaware of any changes, unless they were personally involved in service changes through advocacy or parental support groups. Carer responses mainly reflected national debates, such as service cuts, rather than the local context. Whilst there was significant support for co-location in general, parental views differed considerably on the merits of service changes depending on the needs of their own child. Originality/value – These results caution against assuming a simple pathway from parental views of local services to defining service needs to plan new services. The authors argue that parents lack sufficient knowledge of organisational changes to make an informed decision on whether these changes would bring about service improvements. Implications for research and professional practice are spelled out.