Lewisham BME MH Carer/SU Forum April

Welcome to the April update of the Lewisham BME Mental Health Carer & Service User forum. I know it is a mouthful of a forum name, but I hope it explains fully the forums purpose. Out of all the 4 forums I participate in, this forum is specialised for BME members who often can face a double stigma of identity, neglect and mental health needs.

The forum runs once a month at Family Health ISIS, which is a charity that focuses specifically on African & Caribbean needs in the community. With lack of funding comes difficulty in outreach for those struggling with mental health needs. In fact on my way to the forum I found several unfortunately BME people on the streets clearing struggling with mental health needs and I often wonder what support or engagement they are getting.


The forum had a good turn out because we have SLaM’s diversity lead explaining her role and engaging with the members of the forum. She told the members about what the trust aims to provide regarding BME members from across the 4 boroughs and listened to us on what works on our journey through psychological therapy and what does not work.

Some of the feedback was on race and Identity.
Problems in reinventing the wheel.
Tracing back issues via family tree structure.
Assessments not flagging up mental health needs in order to access services.
Increasing communication to GPs, Churches, Mosques and community groups.
How people need to be involved and sharing power with those wanting to shape services.

The members of the forum hope SLaM’s diversity lead comes back to work with us on tackling such issues.

During the forum, I was happy to see Lewisham CCG turn up and take notes since they were interested in what was going on. They will get back to me later, but I am happy they are becoming more involved.


We also had a healthy eating session from Healthwatch Lewisham who spent a good hour speaking to members about what foods contain, how foods can be categorised and we also spent time making a healthy fruit kebab.

All of the food was provided by Lewisham Tesco, which helps organisations strengthen community spirit and involvement. The forum members appreciated healthwatch Lewisham’s healthy eating workshop and they have been very good in engaging with the BME forum.

This concludes the update for the Lewisham BME MH Carer/SU forum.


Lewisham MH Carers forum April 2018

Welcome back to my MH carer forum update from the Lewisham carers group. At the Lewisham Mental Health carer forum, we discuss carer engagement from our local mental health trust, 3 party organisations, the council and lewisham based GP surguries.

We also discuss carers rights, reports and learning about the carers role. For the april 2018 meeting. We discussed the report sent back from out local Mental health foundation trust, which is South London & Maudsley.

I usually attend and chair carer forums across South London, so it was important quality improvements for the mental health services get views from Carers. The report is fairly well written and easy to digest. I had printed out some copies for members to read at the Lewisham MH Carers forum.

We spent most of the time discussing the report, especially page 7 of the report, because that is where the write up of the carers forums were placed regarding carer issues. Despite the report being very easy to read, there were some problems. Some members felt the report was too vague and missed some things out. Other members of the Lewisham MH Carers forum felt the report is lacking in a conclusion on what needs to be done to tackle quality issues.


One of the members of the forum is going to raise their concerns back at the trust, although I am glad the quality project did mention our concerns. We hope SLaMs Head of quality can engage with the forum regarding SLaMs quality priorites.

We also had a guest speaker at the forum who promises to return to the forum again. The head of the Ladywell Mental Health unit based at Lewisham Hospital engaged with the forum. I was delighted that she was able to make it, even though she had to deal with many emergency meetings. Sam Grey spoke about her role and what a Unit manager does. She described around 7 wards and their purpose and gave an update of changing service structures regarding borough based services rather than trust wide services.

I spoke about the need for a carer support group to be set up for the whole of the Unit, mainly because such a support group existed there years ago. Plus families and carers can always make the tuesday evening for a support group. I am fortunate enough to get support from the trust’s modern matrons who themselves focus on quality priorities. The forum wanted updates and engagement from the Ladywell Unit’s phamacist also the psychriatric nurse from Lewisham hospital, unfortunately we are not sure if it is possible to get their time, but the forum is interested on how such staff deal with medication issues and also how Lewisham hospital’s A&E engages with patients and their friends/families.

I hope the update was a useful read, see you next time.

Being There

Being there

Being there because we care
Being there because we dare
Being there to help to with the journey
Being there because of the fear

Being there to because it takes time
Being there to hope your fine
Being there to catch mental illness early
Being there to stand in the firing line

Being there to try to advocate
Being there hoping its not too late
Being there due to all the worry
Being there to avoid the fate

Being there to help to help take the blows
Being there during the highs and the lows
Being there because no one else wants to
Being there because who else..I suppose

Being there because I care
Being there because I dare
Being there to help to share the journey
Being there because of we fear

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Lewisham MH Carer Forum March 2018


Here is the March update from another of the forums I chair for Mental Health unpaid carers in Lewisham. The carers forum is based at Carers Lewisham and we are always on the lookout for other carers wanting to become members of our forum.

As with other carer forums. We come together to discuss carer issues, get engagement from our Mental Health trust being South London & Maudsley and also get engagement/focus groups from other parties. It is not unknown that members from other trusts tend to pop down to observe or engage with the forum for networking purposes.

For March, the group discussed a vital important question relating to SLaM’s recent quality improvement project. The forum was asked the following question.

What’s the most important thing that SLaM could do to improve the quality of their services?

With a good turn out, I presented why carer forums need to examine its Local mental health trusts quality of services and what as a forum we can do about it.

With support from Ulalee (Carers Lewisham, carers advocate and representative). The group fed back the following.

  • Some members feel it takes too long to engage with the patient and their carers and family.

This might be due to lack of staff or miscommunication, I do not have the answers, but in the past there was more engagement with patient and carer, now many seem to feel engagement tends to happen mostly when medication is prescribed.

  • Need more interpreters to help in engagement/dialogue with mental health services.

One of our members does have difficult with English and is currently getting help from Carers Lewisham in their situation, but feels interpretation could be useful in the service.

  • Access to information when a serious incident takes place regarding families and carers (inpatient).

Some members feel confidentiality is getting in the way too much, although they do understand there is a need for it.  A member is querying why there is a lack of confidentiality booklets and why it is taking so long to print more out, however they are happy with the content of the booklets.

  • Follow up regarding the event, should be improved.

Some members hear too many stories from other carers that their ‘loved one’ is back on the ward, they do understand that the service user may have wished not to take medication, but members feel follow up after a mental health crisis is poor and the quality of follow up services should improve.

  • Improvement in medications (what the medication is meant to do “information about medication”)

Not only should there be improvement in the quality of medications, but information about medication side effects should be provided.  I have been on some wards and community treatment bases and have seen medication leaflets placed around, but members feel there should also be monitoring and discussion with the patient and carer on how medication is getting along.

  • Training of staff should improve in quality (mental health to avoid misdiagnoses)

There is a feeling the reason why so many patients end up back on the ward is because monitoring of medication is lacking, so patients come off medication due to side effects and sometimes the medication might not be working at all.  The forum members feel perhaps training staff might help.

  • Engagement to the community in regards of how families and carers can access training

Staff should be trained not only on ward engagement, but engaging with family and carers in the community.

  • Lack of social workers, need more to help improve quality of services.

It was noted that some areas under SLaM are affected more, but it is felt this was not SLaMs fault, but there is still a need for more social works and less burden on SLaM staff to end up documenting procedures/reports all the time.  Members feel the spirit of psychology/psychiatry is becoming too clerical and engagement has gone out the window.

  • Long waits for therapy / GPs should be more informed.

The gatekeepers to SLaM services e.g. GPs should be more informed about how family and carers (mainly those supporting mental health needs) can get help.  The forum also requires engagement from the CCG on such matters and wish the CCG and SLaM work in partnership on carer awareness among Lewisham GP surguries.

  • Providing better quality of support information & communication to Patient and Family/carer

Members feel more communication with patient/carer could improve, but we are not sure how this could be done.

  • Dignity and respect to family / carer

Members of the forum are hearing stories and experiences of mental health staff becoming aggressive towards patient or carer.  Many members feel perhaps work pressure, bad relationship and lack of training could be causing this.  Family & Carers and patient deserve dignity and respect since trauma can be catching.

  • Carers not involved regarding Admissions, revolving door of mental health service.

It could be confidentiality problems again, the forum does not know, but we feel family and carers are not always involved in ward rounds with the patient and would like to hear from social services department or those responsible for social services at the trust.

  • Explain to family/carer why the ‘cared for’ as been admitted (preventative measures)

Too many stories and experiences of loved ones being admitted time and time again to the Ladywell Unit, feel their is a blame game on the patient refusing treatment.  Members think their certainly should be a trust responsibility as well.  Members want some improvement on why their ‘loved one’ is being admitted time and time again.

  • Also to keep the patient out of the ward (discharge plan)

Members feel the follow-up is lacking, a bad discharge plan increases the likelihood of the patient being admitted again.  Members feel information from SLaM’s patient database is obscure, something is wrong when patient/carer is not getting all information from the database.  The forum wants engagement for representatives of EPJS to explain what work needs to be done on the patient system and why it is so hard for patient/carer to be sent information regarding ‘care plans/emergency plans/carer engagement info’ and so on.

  • Should work to improve quality of communication to family/carer and also patient.

Too many stories of care plans not containing information or information not making sense.  Members of the forum understand there is pressure on staff to document reports, but still want quality to improve.

  • Have experienced carer not knowing what to do, it should also be a trust responsibility.

More of a problem for new carers, but it can be difficult getting hold of mental health staff, which is why support from Carers Lewisham has been so critical.  With the loss of SLaM’s carer support officers and also the loss of Carers Lewisham Mental Health advocate; family and carers are feeling the brunt of service cuts as it is hard to know who to go to for Mental Health carer requirements.

The forum members look forward from carer leads out in the community and would want to hear updates of SLaM carer lead network meetings.

Lewisham BME Mental Health Carer/SU Forum March Update 2018

Welcome to the March update of the Lewisham Mental Health Carer forum. This forum is filled with unpaid carers supporting someone close suffering mental health needs. We come together each month to discuss issues, work out what is working for Carers and service users agmonst the BME community and be engaged by our local mental health trust, CCG and third party providers.

This month we had the Clinical Service Lead for Assessment and Liaison based in Lewisham. He spoke about the kinds of services provided for lewisham resisdents who have mental health needs. We also discussed the use of Increasing Access to Psychology Therapies and how to access such a service.

The discussion moved onto why BME groups were not accessing such services and if there were thoughts and ideas of how mental health staff treat BME service users and their carers. Group members felt because of bad experiences, even young BME groups tend to stay away from services due to fear of trauma. The group queried how many people were being assessed in the borough of Lewisham, but I reminded that we need to examine the report “Meeting the public sector equality duty at SLaM”.

Some of the members would like to have the Patient & Public Involvement Lead for the Acute ward services back again to talk about further updates about the Acute ward services.


More discussions were focused on the services provided at Southbrook road and the BME Service user/carer forum were handed out updates from the meeting in Feburary. The group were very pleased in how the report was laid out and presented and would like such a format to continue.

A large part of the discussion at the March forum centered on experiences with the police and how some members ended up at the Ladywell Unit. There is distrust from some members of the forum about the police, especially due to the recent death of a mentally unwell person brought in by the police. I however reminded the group, that engagement from SLaM’s Central place of Safety and the police mental health lead would help shape views and experiences. The forum looks forward to engagement from Lewisham Police & SLaM in the comming months.

Some of the members discussed the need for therapy/counselling and felt it was lacking in SLaM, they felt the need for such services due to trauma and bad experiences. Members of the forum were not interested in family therapy all the time and would want some counselling and engagement on how to understand their care plans.

Southwark MH Carers Forum March 2018

Untitled-2Welcome to an update of how the March 2018 Mental Health carer forum went. I usually try to chair several carer forums around South London and on Friday the 23rd of March we had a forum at Southwark Carers. As stated in previous posts, one of the core aspects of the carer forums is to give carers the space, platform and voice for engagement at their local mental health trust.

Fortunately the forums are very much supported by our mental health trust and at this particular forum we had engagement from the Southwark Modern Matron for South London & Maudsley. Matron’s used to be used very much earlier on in the NHS history and now South London & Maudsley are bringing them back to help with quality standards, engagement with wards and a whole lot more.

South London & Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust has 4 Modern Matron’s each one for the four boroughs the trust provides services in. For Southwark the Modern Matron focuses on Physical Health, Lambeth is on reduction in violence on wards, Lewisham focuses Quality improvement and Croydon on Learning disabilities and Carer engagement. As a note all 4 do a whole lot more, but these are some of the core aspects the matron’s work on.


Zara the Modern Matron for Southwark spoke about how important it is to build relationships with the staff on the Acute wards. She spoke how she trained for the role and her passion to make a big difference. As a carer, I was very interested in what she had to say and her way of speaking made me even more interested in mental health overall. The modern matron for the borough of southwark also spoke about how care plans will hopefully be more of the focus in ward rounds held at the 4 hospitals. She spent a large time engaging with carers at the forum about SLaM’s “Carer engagement & observation plan” and changing the culture of how NHS staff can engagement and involve carers.


Lots of big projects are happening with Maudsley working with the two other big Mental Health NHS trusts that being Oxleas and the other being South West London & St Georges. We also heard about the importance of the 5 year physical plan from SLaM looking at

– Stoping smoking
– Smear tests
– Denistry
– Nutrianal health and more

One of the reasons for the 5 year plan is that patients with mental health needs often tend not to focus on their own physical health needs and the NHS trust feels that mental and physical health should be the focus in health and recovery.

Other parts of the forum is that the borough of Southwark’s MPs have responded and will have time to engage with the forum, we are still waiting to hear from the last MP. The other good news is that the mental health lead for Southwark CCG will visit the forum in the coming months. So far, I am very impressed with the support the forum is getting from the borough of Southwark, but unfortunately there still is a lot of work to do in order to bring changes for families and carers.

The last part of the forum was exploring the following question regarding improving services for SLaM. I wanted to collect information from carers on how they feel South London & Maudsley could improve the quality of it services.

Hopefully we can get more carers attending the forum, but if not that then at least they can have an option to try attend a carers support group, which we hope will be set up to catch hidden carers or those who feel their role is not about caring.

Thanks for reading.