Being part of something

106542Hey there! Welcome to another new blog from unpaid carer Matthew Mckenzie. I have just come back from the Carers UK Conference 2019. As a carer I was inspired on how the event went and felt part of something. I felt part something very big and felt I should write up a couple of my thoughts on this post.

I had shared a panel session at the Carers UK conference and due to limited time, I could not manage to say all what I would have liked, however I felt I got the main messages out there to the audience. I wish this particular blog post carries on my message to other unpaid carers who stumble across this blog post.

This message is to you…fellow carer.

You have been providing care and support for something close, be that you are a new carer, veteran or former unpaid carer. We all share the same aspects. We wish no harm to come to those we support and love. We do what society asks of us and more, we also wish others can learn from what we do and hope they understand the meaning of care and support in the community. We as carers seek to protect our families, friends and loved ones. It is what makes us who we are.

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Take away our ability to care and who is there to pick up the pieces? The fear is if carers are unable to carry out their role, the price paid hits the ‘cared for’, it then trickles down to the hard working health professional struggling with ever increasing demand for health services. Social care providers then feel the strain as more need ever dwindling social support. We as a community cannot afford to leave carers isolated and I want to make sure unpaid carers get this message.

As a carer I wear the badge of going though the hard times, wondering if the people I support will make it through a crisis. I have been awake at nights wondering if I have done enough or if I am doing too much. As a carer I have been through periods of anxiety, stress, depression and even anger as I query why at times I have been failed each time another crisis arises.

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As carers we must make our voices heard, but it must be together. We all have our own abilities and ways of being noticed. Together through the support of leaders, movers and shapers, us carers can be part of something exciting. It will not be easy, it never is. We as carers can sometimes feel impatient and want that change now, but it might seem out of reach, but we have got to try.

We as unpaid carers must not give up, because from what I have mentioned before, who will pay that price? Will it be you? Will it be the person you care for? Its far too much of a price to pay. So many is depending on us, you might not even think of this, but we must set an example of why caring for those we love is so important. You may not think caring means much, but being there for those we love sets an example to the community, it means we want to protect each other, it means unity, faith and strength to see things through.

Caring sets examples to those who shape the health and social services. It means we want the NHS and social services to support ourselves, our loved ones and families. Caring sets examples to those who are new to the caring journey as they themselves look for us to be peer supporters.

Caring is more and beyond and should be praised as being part of the community. Each time a carer decides to walk away because of a system that cannot or will not identify and support them, ends up failing the community. The price paid will be high.

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As a carer I ask you to have faith and be part of something, be part of something. It will be scary at first and you might feel out of place, you might not understand the language of campaigning, making your voice heard or feeling you might fail. You as a carer might feel you might not belong and wish to just be silent and carrying on coping. I say NO to this, no more being silent and coping. Channel what energy you have left, channel that anger away into something constructive! Do not disappear into silence, be noticed. Be proud that you are doing something cherished by society, wear that badge proudly because love and caring are eternal long after humanity has moved on.

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Be proud that you are trying to cope, but be part of something bigger and be part of the caring movement.

Bless every one of you carers and just be noticed, it is your right and your destiny.

Thanks for stopping by

Lewisham MH Carers forum September 2019 update

133Welcome to the September update of the Lewisham Mental Health Carers forum. I guess you might already know, that I facilitate two carer strategy forums in the borough of Lewisham.

 

 

However one of the forums focuses more on BAME queries/issues with families and unpaid carers. The one that runs at Lewisham Carers tends to focus on unpaid MH carers as a whole.

Mental Health Open Forum

Just as a reminder, the term ‘mental health carers’ refers to unpaid carers supporting those with mental health needs. I know not many people are happy with labels, but on some level it just helps with identification and at best helps to lessen isolation as people know they have something in common with each other.

For the September Lewisham Mental Health Carers forum, we were lucky to have Lewisham’s latest mental health Champion James Rathbone, who is also the Labour Councillor for Lee Green. As unpaid MH carers, we were also joined by South London & Maudsley’s Quality Improvement QI Facilitator. It is important NHS mental health trusts engage with families and carers at grassroots level.

We first heard from Cllr James Rathbone who has lived experience of mental health. He spoke about how he became a mental health champion and why he would like to make a difference in the community regarding mental health needs. Not every service user can speak out when addressing mental health issues and it helps when someone is high profile enough to raise mental health at important meetings.

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James specified he does not control how Lewisham health services run, but he will bring mental health to attention when the issue arises. It is important that a mental health champion gets out and engages with the community. It is important to hear what the community says about the issue of mental health needs. James raised the situation of mental health needs from the BAME community and felt there needs to be more priority due to a high level of BAME using mental health services.

James was critical with the term ‘parity of esteem’, because he felt the term itself does nothing to address the real issues. He felt the main issue was funding and the new term should be ‘parity of funding’. He felt what are services bringing to the table? It is easy to talk, but funding matters in the end, plus how the funding is used.

James talked about the big launch of the Lewisham suicide prevention strategy held on the 11th of September 2019. I am not fully aware of the suicide stats in Lewisham or other London boroughs, so it would be interesting to chase that up. Especially since I am a carer member of SLaM’s suicide prevention group.

The next and last point raise by Lewisham’s Mental Health Champion was on how Families and carers can be involved in shaping Lewisham’s mental health services. I asked this query, because families and carers should feel part of the system, they should have their views and experiences taken into account and feel empowered they have the chance to be involved.

James spoke of how carers can become members of their NHS trust and have a greater say on what is going on. James spoke that we should pay attention to what SLaM governors are doing and try query what they are involved in. James mentioned that Lewisham CCG have their public reference group, which allows for involvement and it helps to understand the important health policies affecting the community.

We were glad James mentioned the important Lewisham stakeholder event on the 14th of October, since members of the MH Carers forum will be holding a workshop there about carers.  The link has been added below.

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/lewisham-mental-health-stakeholder-event-me-and-my-community-tickets-72248203321

On the 16th of October will be Lewisham Child & Adolescent event, although not sure where it will be.

Some questions from the forum asked at James were on the merger of the six CCGs, the use of the Joint Health and Safety Committee and James returning for the Lewisham BAME forum.

Next up was Aaron Brewer who is SLaM’s quality improvement facilitor. Many NHS trusts around the country have quality improvement projects to work out how to improve services for patient and carer (yes, thats right! carers also use services). They want to ensure that the people that access our services experience the same standards of care no matter which borough they live in or which service they com are under.

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Aaron spoke about SLaM’s Inpatient Care Process Model. The model is broken down in to six phases of an admission. Lewisham are currently implementing three phases. The decision made to admit and first 24 hours, First 24 to 72 hours in
hospital and Final discharge preparation and discharge.

The model is broken down in the following sections.

– Decision made to admit and first 24 hours
– First 24 to 72 hours in hospital
– Getting better
– Getting ready to leave
– Final discharge preparation and discharge
– Staying well

Aaron then spoke about Lewisham’s Hospital patient system ‘I Care’ and how data can be used to focus on quality issues and quality behaviour. The group were shown some graphs and quality data to help educate members on how hospital data can help make decisions. We were shown nothing confidential, but numbers and figures. It was pointed out that the graphs look very complex, but I always stress carers MUST get used to poking their noses on data and quality. We need to understand how NHS systems work and how they make decisions on services.

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The following graphs were shown on

Hospital Length of Stay
Discharges by directorate
Readmissions within 30 days
Admissions and Transfers into External Overspill

The next discussion was on how the Hospital’s patient system can help in improving care and outcomes. These will follow on from the Red2Green tool. The Red2Green is a tool to aid daily multi disciplinary team decision making to ensure that every day spent in hospital is meaningful and contributing to a person’s recovery. Red2Green was developed in an acute general hospital but has since been adapted for mental health settings, multiple NHS trusts are now using it and having success in reducing unnecessary delays, length of stay and bed occupancy.

The Ladywell unit based at Lewisham hospital has several mental health wards. We were shown how one of the wards operates in regards to the Red2Green tool. The ward chosen was the ‘Powell Ward’, where we were explained the following

180 Green Days and 4 Red Days for 18 patients in August.
No Delayed Discharges.
Targetted Theme: Awaiting Social Services

The last part of the discussion was on Standard Operating Procedures (SOP). The aim is to agree Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) to unblock common barriers to discharges between community and inpatient services. The more I looked at who was involved at the SOP, the more my head began to spin because I felt they need to engage with the forum somehow or the risk is the community would not always know what is going on, however we did mention we have invited Lewisham’s head of social care to attend.

This concludes the update for the September Lewisham MH Carers forum. As a note due to resources, I cannot always update on the 4 forums, but will try every so often.

The next Lewisham MH Carers forum is on the 29th of October

London Carers Festival 2019

IMG_20190921_133155Do you know that if you are a carer, then you are doing something not only for your ‘cared for’, but also for the community. Caring for someone when life can be difficult for yourself should be celebrated. Thats why London ADASS, which stands for Directors of Adult Social Services aimed to put on a festival for carers. The aim of London ADASS is to improve adult social care across London and to identify ways of doing this as cost-effectively as possible.

The festival was developed and brought together by many other carer organisations who help plan and run the festival. The first London borough to have the Carer’s festival was the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. Eventually each London borough will have the honor of running the festival each year.

The festival took place on Saturday the 21st of September over at the Bromley by Bow Centre on a lovely warm sunny day. We expected well over 500 to attend and join in on the community spirit. I arrived just around the start of the festival to be given a tour by one of the stewards who was friendly and approachable. The festival was split up in 9 zones and I explored all of each zone.

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The first Zone could be heard some distance away, because that was the DJ with also stage performances. The next Zone was the Crazy gold area where families and unpaid carers could relax and take their mind off things. We also had in Zone 3 the food stalls, which were amazingly cheap in prices. I actually bought myself a burrito.

The next Zone, being Zone 4 was the eating area where I relaxed and did some reading off my mobile phone, while also chatting to another host at the event. Eventually I explored Zone 5 where there were stalls helping to raise the awareness of unpaid carers in the community. I visited the Carers UK stall. Then moved on to the Stall hosted by Havering Carers Hub and another stall from Carers of Barking & Dagenham.

Here is some more information from the stalls I visited.

https://www.adass.org.uk/
https://www.carersuk.org/
http://www.haveringcarershub.org.uk/
https://carers.org/
http://www.carerscentre.org.uk/

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Eventually I wandered into the Barn Area, which was Zone 6 and I was greated by the carer facilitator who runs the Carer forums over in Croydon. She also helps run carer support groups and educational carer awareness events, so I was surprised to see her at the Carers festival helping out.

I took the time to join in some Arts and Crafts which was run by ‘Carers First’. Carers First provide information, advice, guidance, emotional support, training and activities. They also help give carers an opportunity to have a break from their caring role. They charity covers a wide area including Kent & Medway, Newham, Waltham Forest, Haringey, Essex and Lincolnshire. I was amazed at the work they do and how accommodating they were in helping others join in the activities.

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In Zone 7 was the community hall which had performances going on through the day. Plus Zone 8 was the quiet area and Zone 9 being the first aid and Disabled facilities.

So what events took place while I was there? I took some to listen to the music and poetry from Sarifa who is a carer champion and activist who campaigns on disability rights. I noticed there was some laughter therapy going on at the festival, but at the time I was still exploring what was going on.

It was great that some members from the carer forums I run also turned up the the festival and I hope some will update the group next Tuesday over in Lewisham. The festival pulled in much the community spirit and it was great to watch the Royal Air force Cadets doing their drills and helping out at the festival.

https://www.raf.mod.uk/aircadets/

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Later on at the festival we got to hear from the Islington Council Singers, which are a choir that have been around for many years. We also got a dance act from disabled ladies from the Muskaan group. The group was formed around in the early 1990’s and focuses on empowerment and personal development. While watching the group, i was inspired to explore a stall promoting the ‘Asian People’s Disability Alliance’. They provide support and services for disabled and elderly in Asian communities as we know Tower Hamlets is a diverse area.

You can check out their link below.

https://apda.org.uk/

I could not stay on for the rest of the festival since it started at 12:00 noon and finished around 5 or 6 pm. I did hear there was more poetry and choir groups, plus I missed a chance at Zumba and other discussions at Zone 7.

All in All, i enjoyed spending time at the first Festival dedicated to carers and also the community. Unpaid Carers do a lot for who they are emotionally attached to, it is about time carers are celebrated as being part of the community.

Thanks for ‘Carers First’ for providing some pictures.  Check out more about Carers First Link below.

https://www.carersfirst.org.uk/

Thanks for stopping by!!

Southwark MH Carers forum September 2019

MH Forum 20-09-19-page-001Welcome to the September 2019 update of the Southwark Mental Health Carers forum. The forum is aimed at unpaid carers who carer or support those with mental health needs. For example as in a relative or friend suffering schizophrenia, bipolar, ADHD, serve depression, self harming and so on. We even have families attending supporting someone with learning disabilities.

The forum runs once every 3rd thursday month from Southwark Carers. Southwark Carers is a carers centre that Enables, empowers and enriches the lives of carers in the London borough of Southwark.

For the September forum there was a push to get carer members to understand Maudsley’s Carer Strategy. Just like over at the Lewisham MH Carers forum, we hope carers can understand what a carer strategy means, how it could help them as a carer and why NHS trusts work towards a carers strategy. Still, its no good having a strategy done in isolation. Mental Health trusts need to listen to those supporting patients in their services. Carers need to feel valued by being listened to, even if some issues cannot be resolved.

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Unfortunately the SLaM member of staff could not make it, but I managed to go through the strategy some weeks before and developed a presentation on it. Oddly enough, we could not fit in as much about the carers strategy and I am hoping we could cover the rest in October.

I did break down a few things regarding what South London & Maudsley regards as a carer, the issue of identifying carers and training SLaM staff to be carer aware. There are other queries from carers especially about the Triangle of Care policy and also the impact of the Care Act 2014 and if it has done any good for families and carers.

I also presented the new Physical Health project from KingsHealthPartners, which focuses on improving mental and physical well-being for people with mental illnesses. There was excitement that a focus group looks to be developed involvement patients, doctors, researchers and carers on the new a high intensity interval training (HIIT) program for inpatients with mental illnesses.

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Carers are understandably upset that their loved ones are being given medication that although controls the mental illness, can add physical weight to the patient. It can get so bad that it could contribute to the 20 year Mortality Gap in service users. It is about time there should be a controlled exercise program in conjuction with mental health treatment. King’s Health Partners is an Academic Health Sciences Centre where world-class research, education and clinical practice are brought together for the benefit of patients. They bring together a world-leading research led university and three successful NHS Foundation Trusts.

You can find out more about them on the link below

https://www.kingshealthpartners.org/

Talking about NHS trusts. It was good to at least have South London and Maudsley NHS Trust work to engaging with carers regarding its carers strategy, we also had Kings College NHS Trust getting views from carers over in Lambeth and sometimes Southwark, but there still needs to be an update from Guys & St Thomas on their Carer’s policies. We had an update on progress regarding engagement.

I updated the members on the new Carer support group, which I aim to set up in Southwark. The group needs to be carer-led and will receive funding from the mental health organisation Mind. I am awaiting peer support training, since it is a new avenue for me being a peer supporter, but I have unfortunately have carers chat with me regarding serious NHS incidents and they are not so trusting of NHS staff due to being so distruate if their ‘loved one’ has died or come to serious harm. The carer peer support group, will need to have protected space for carers where we can support and learn from each other.

The forum members also discussed several exciting events, one of them being the Celebrating the role of carers across the Capital festival held over at Bromley by Bow Centre. The festival was organised by LondonADASS and the festival was being hosted over in London Borough of Tower Hamlets, East London. More on that festival later in another blog post.

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At the Southwark forum we celebrated the update of Carer member Ana who is developing her skills as a therapist. She has been nominated for awards by The London Awards Brazilian Guide 2019 which is intended to support and support projects and initiatives that empower entrepreneurs.

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Ana has several projects that help those in the Latin community and has set up a project that helps hundreds of children over in Brazil. The members of the Southwark Carers forum are aware of the contribution the Latin community make and are aware of how communities feel pushed out by development in the area.

https://brasileirosnainglaterra.com/eventos/guia-londres-awards-woman-2019/

Ana invited members of the carers forum to the Brazilian embassey for a wellbeing festival and we look forward to being part of how the Latin community are inviting of others even if they are feeling welcomed.

I will update the Southwark Carer members on how the Carer festival went in October.

Lambeth ‘Carers Voices’ September update

Thanks for stopping by my carer website. This is an update from the Lambeth area. Did you know that Carers Hub Lambeth has several forums? I managed to attend their ‘Carers Voices’ forum which is held at We Are 336 in Brixton on Thursday Sept 19th 10.30 am – 12.00 pm.

So what is Carers Hub Lambeth?

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Carers’ Hub Lambeth is an independent local charity based in Brixton. They are there to reduce the stresses experienced by unpaid carers who live in or care for somebody living in Lambeth. They advocate, refer and provide a wellbeing and empowering resource for carers in the borough.

For the Carers Hub Lambeth forum, we were joined by Stephanie who is busy working on Kings College NHS trust’s Carers strategy. As you know that NHS trust is massive with at least several other hospital sites from the Princess Royal University Hospital in Kent to King’s College Hospital Clinics in the middle east to along with a wide range of NHS services, some I have listed below.

kings nhs

Acute and emergency care
Critical care, radiology and MEP (medical engineering and physics)
Dental
Haematology and precision medicine
Liver and renal
Neurosciences
Pharmacy
Planned surgery, ophthalmology and optometry
Post-acute, planned medicine and outpatients
Theatres and anaesthetics
Therapy, rehabilitation and allied clinical services
Women’s health

and much more…..

However something critical is missing? Although not all patients may need family support, there is a lack of focus on how the NHS trust involves and incorporates carers. This is why Kings College NHS trust has been engaging with carer groups and forums from Lambeth to Southwark. I was amazed Stephanie from Kings remembered me when she used to work for Lewisham Healthwatch, since I spend a lot of time engaging with the healthwatches (I am sure they must be fed up for me). Still, this is great news that a hospital has managed to employ someone with such a strong engagement background.

We had many detailed and focused suggestions from carers at the forum. Plus we were provided with how the Trust looks to take on the new Carers Passport, which helps to identify carers and gives access to other resources that are useful for families and carers. Guys & St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust also provide the carers passport, but might be developing a few other things for families and carers.

After the consultation, the forum were presented with updates from the Lambeth PPG network. We looked into the use of online appointments and digital health applications. There was a good discussion on how carers can influence their GP surgery to provide better engagement and support for carers providing support to a patient.

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It is important carers query how GP surgeries are doing in the borough of Lambeth and if the doctor’s practice even have a Patient Participation Group. This concludes my update for the Lambeth’s Carers Voices forum until the Lambeth Mental Health carers forum

World Suicide Prevention Day 2019

businessman sittingWorld Suicide Prevention Day is an awareness day observed on 10 September every year, in order to provide worldwide commitment and action to prevent suicides. World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD),  runs on the 10 September and is set by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP). where the World Health Organisation also sponsor the day. The theme for 2019 is called Working Together to Prevent Suicide.

The WHO and IASP also work with governments and other partners to ensure that suicide is no longer stigmatized, criminalized or penalized.

However one of their main aims is to raise awareness of the risks of suicide and to fund suicide prevention schemes.

I took some time to look at some stats on suicide and was amazed to know that a person dies every 40 seconds by suicide and up to 25 times as many again make a suicide attempt.  Suicide is also among the top 20 leading causes of death globally for people of all ages.  The WHO refers the widest number of suicides occur in the age group 15 – 29.

If you would like to check out my awareness video on world suicide prevention day, please play the video below.

Who are the UK organisations?

Since world Suicide prevention day is a global movement, what is happening in the UK?

There are many in the UK helping to battle against suicide and raise awareness. From Rethink Mental Illness, Mind, Network Rail, NHS England, Probation Service, Samaritans, Heads Together, Grassroots suicide prevention, Healthwatch, Mates in Mind and PAPYRUS (helping young people against suicide) Plus many more.

For the UK there is the National Suicide Prevention Alliance, The National Suicide Prevention Alliance (NSPA) is a cross-sector, England-wide coalition working reduce suicide in England. You can even sign up to be a member, its free.

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Some Facts about suicide

The main suicide triggers are poverty, unemployment, the loss of a loved one, arguments and legal or work-related problems. Plus triggers can form from difficulties with developing one’s identity especially Lesbian, gay, and bisexual young people who come from families that reject or do not accept them.

Arguments.

We also have isolation from the community, bullying and racism in society with far too few trying to tackle the causes leading to a spike in suicide levels. We also have relationship breakdown and divorce as a leading cause especially in older adults who find there is lack of support after a relationship has finished.

Talking about community basically suicide is a community issue and is everyone’s business. No one should suffer alone and together people can fight suicide and reach out to others when they are in need. Everyone has something to contribute no matter how large or small.

With mental health, those suffering depression are at high risk of suicidal behaviours, but at the same time how can someone with depression know they are at risk?

My thoughts on suicide prevention

From Sociologists, health professionals and Economists to researchers they all have a large part to play in understanding suicide as social pressures place a lot of strain on people to trigger suicide.

We all have a part to play in tackling suicide. Unfortunately suicide is still a taboo subject and can be rather complex in the community. You just cannot look into someone’s mind and have an idea that they are at risk, people need to listen, but those at risk need to need to talk (although be choosy on who you talk to).

As a male, I am certainly aware and have experienced situations on why men are more likely to take their life. I feel some men are very competitive and often see opportunities to get the better of everyone. There is no problem with competition, but it can be an issue if someone feels opening up is weak or bringing others down is strong. As with women, they are often more likely to talk about their situation, while men might just deal with it until it might reach breaking point.

Families and carers

Families and carers can be just at risk, especially after a loved one has taken their life. People who have been bereaved by suicide can be at greater risk of taking their own lives. It is important to try talk to someone, especially someone close who will take the time to listen to you. There is always hope, even if the mind is in a place where it feels no one is listening.

Certainly seek out support and awareness groups. There is a site called Support after suicide which is at https://supportaftersuicide.org.uk

How can you help?

On World Suicide Prevention I am involved as a carer member on a suicide prevention steering group at my local mental health trust.  We are launching our Suicide prevention strategy soon and there will be an exciting conference on the day.

Even though my background is more on family and carer engagement, there is always room to learn and connect with those who have been affected by suicide.

If you are also thinking about being involved, here are some suggestions I could offer.

  • Blog, write and learn about suicide prevention..
  • Help reduce stigma on mental health and the after affects of suicide.
  • Try educate yourself about suicide prevention since a number of local events will be on during the day.
  • Be kind.
  • If suffering from suicidal thoughts, seek help.

Other places to seek help

Samaritans: 116 123 (free, for everyone, 24/7)
CALM: 0800 585858 (free, for men, 5pm-midnight)
PAPYRUS: 0800 968 4141

 

Service User Advocacy Exhibition

Thanks for stopping by at another carer blog post. I thought to quickly drum up a page on my latest visit to the Bethlem’s Museum of the mind. I was excited to be part of their new exhibition “Impatient! Stories of Service User Advocacy”.

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The exhibition which is over at the Bethlem Museum just inside the Bethlem Royal Hospital, celebrates the history of Service User advocacy. There is history on how the groups and organisations projected their causes and how they relate to psychiatry. I felt that sometimes when it comes to NHS exhibitions they tend to promote much of what has taken place in the hospitals, but showing what the community or inpatients have done, can give more of a holistic picture.

I was privileged to be shown how so many advocacy groups helped in their own cause from Dragon Cafe over in Southwark, to CoolTan Arts which was based also in Southwark. It was great to see Michelle Barrier’s work who was the CEO of cooltan sometime ago. We also had contributions from HearUs Croydon, speak out against psychiatry, Service User Involvement in Training and Education, Dolly Sen and many more.

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On that Saturday when the exhibition first opened to the public, I wandered around the Bethlem Gallery to see many of the exhibits and reflected on how those advocacy groups have made a difference to patients lives. Also on the day was a talk from Nathan Filer author of the books The Shock of the Fall.

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Nathan was there to talk about his new book The HeartLand, which from his website is a collection of personal stories and essays about madness and its meanings. His talk was on how he used to work in a hospital, which led him to become more involved in mental health nursing. Many of the questions from the audience were challenging and well thought out.

You can find out more about Nathan Filer from his website

https://www.nathanfiler.co.uk/

I then visited the rest of he museum which had an impressive display of the history of the Maudsley and about Bedlem. I event visited the boardroom. which showed the picture of Queen Mary who visited one of the wards around 1930. Queen Mary eventually became the President of Bethlem.

You can find out more about the boardroom in the museum below.

https://museumofthemind.org.uk/blog/just-visiting-queen-mary

The rest of the day I spent going through the sections and displays from advocacy groups, I am sorry if I missed any since there was so many. As mentioned, I feel that patients can have a very difficult time getting their voice heard. Even when unwell, it is so important that some have the strength to form a group or network and try to have that voice. There are problems with psychology and psychiatry, especially with medications and policies from the government. Some of those things are just a small reason why the service user advocacy groups have formed and need to stay in place.

Some groups help to support the mental health system, while others are against. Some advocacy groups help to untangle the maze of the mental health system, while other advocacy groups work towards creativity and expression. The history of advocacy groups is very rich and I feel this is just a start of the celebration of service user voices and protests.

I was also glad to chip into the exhibition due to my involvement with Service User Involvement In Training and Education (SUITE), basically SUITE allows patients and unpaid carers to have the power to be involved in training NHS staff, develop courses and educate others on their experiences. The Museum kindly took my views and included me along with other members of SUITE in a video exhibition.

I have also noticed that on the day, some NHS staff from South London and Maudsley took time off their weekend to visit the exhibition including the Chief Operating Officer.

I would like to thank the organisers and the Bethlem Museum and Bethlem Gallery for including service users and carers in the rich history of mental health.

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The exhibition runs from 7 September 2019 to the 4 January 2020

Thanks for stopping by.