Informal carers save the state's health and social care services billions of pounds each year. The stresses associated with caring have given rise to a number of short-term care services to provide respite to carers. The Carers (Recognition & Services) Act of 1995 identified formally for the first time, the important role that unpaid carers provide across the community in Britain. The planning of combined health and social care services such as short-term care is a less developed application of geographical information systems (GIS) and this paper examines awareness and application issues associated with the potential use of GIS to manage short-term care service planning for informal carers in East Sussex. The assessment of GIS awareness was carried out by using a semi-structured questionnaire approach and interviewing key local managers and planners across a number of agencies. GIS data was gathered from the agencies and developed within a GIS to build up a set of spatial databases of available services, location of users and additional geo-demographic and topographic information. The output from this system development was presented in turn at workshops with agencies associated with short-term care planning as well as users to help assess their perspectives on the potential use and value of GIS. A renewed emphasis on a planned approach to health care coupled with integrated/joint working with social care creates a need for new approaches to planning. The feedback from planners and users, suggested that a number of key data elements attached to data-sharing may prove to be simultaneously progressive yet problematic, especially in the areas of ethics, confidentiality and informed consent. A critical response to the suitability of GIS as a tool to aid joint health and social care approaches is incorporated within a final summary.