Welcome back fellow carer readers. Another blog post from Carer activist and author Matthew McKenzie. At the time of this post, it is Carers Awareness week. This is the week where awareness and support for carers is promoted from the 5th to 11th June 2023. Carers Awareness week is an annual awareness campaign. It helps to remind others that even caring for someone unwell does not have to go unrecognised.
Caring for someone close can be a hidden and isolating reality for millions across the UK. So it helps to know what the promise is from decision makers.
I was fortunate enough to be included at a reception for carers and carer representatives at 10 Downing street. Just so you know, that address is the official residence and office of the prime minister of the United Kingdom.
Everyone was friendly and welcoming. Even Larry the Cat
I have always said to others that if you are going to be an activist it would be wise to raise the profile of what you are campaigning for. Of course, most of the time I am trying to network carers together. It helps to understand what we all go through and why we go through challenges as carers.
The reception led by Carers UK for Carers Week was also supported by Age UK, Carers Trust, MND Association, the Lewy Body Society, Rethink Mental Illness and Oxfam. We are all partners in raising awareness for unpaid carers.
It was not just a reception, as we were greated by Minister for Care, Helen Whately.
The minister announced a cross-government roundtable to champion carers’ needs across Whitehall. Helen also introduced more measures to support carers across the country. Despite the challenges the government is under, it is important that there is a focus on carers doing so much to care for those close to them. Unpaid carers asking for hardly anything except to be noticed for their struggle and sacrifice as health and social care face great challenges.
I am grateful to have attended and network with fellow carers and those doing so much to support caring. We want a caring community and it is only fair to promote and support this. You can read more about the fuction below.
Welcome to a special carers week 2023 blog from Matthew McKenzie carer activist and author. As a carer’s activist, I often try raise awarness of unpaid carers. I even try to raise awareness at hospital NHS Trusts. One of the hospital NHS Trusts is based over in South West London. This hospital is St George’s University hospital.
Basically it is one of the country’s principal teaching hospitals, which is shared with St George’s, University of London, which trains medical students and carries out advanced medical research. The NHS trust has more than 9,000 staff and is one of the four major trauma centres for London.
I actually run a carers information stall at the hospital to remind staff and carers about the carer’s role.
It was great to hear that I was invited to the London discharge toolkit which is being rolled out across all NHS acute trusts in London. The toolkit was developed by Debbie Hustings involving many carer organisations and carers with co-production.
With my involvement in NHS England, I have a keen interest to see how the toolkit increases the focus on unpaid carers. The toolkit serves many purposes, as in educating NHS staff, raising carers rights and examining challenges in the health system.
I have fedback my thoughts to NHS England regarding the toolkit and a few other things. Below is the link to the toolkit
Welcome to another blog post from Carer activist Matthew McKenzie. I do many roles to connect with unpaid carers and I am now a Expert by Experience Carer Ambassador for Cygnet. I want to keep carers at the heart of healthcare services and one of the best ways to do this is speak at conferences.
Cygnet Health Care is taking on the challenge of and striving to make sure mental health carers get the best support possible. Cygnet are running “Regional Carer Network events”.
This recent Carer Network Event took place at one of Cygnet’s sites. That being Cygnet Hospital Bierley.
Before the event, Cygnet’s Group Service Improvement Manager Lauran Sheridan provided support to make sure Carer Ambassador’s were looked after. It was thanks to Laura that we were given a voice and place to reach out to carers who often feel they are forgotten.
We had a lovely stay at Premier Inn and the food was lovely. It was important to get a good nights rest to feel refreshed and ready to engage with staff at Cygnet and unpaid carers.
Just before the event, I took the time to explore the wonderful City of Bradford and event went walking along some rocks to watch the sunset.
AT THE EVENT
As usual, the first thing I look for when I enter a hospital is to examine what is displayed for unpaid carers. I was glad to see a Carer’s board and advertisements for carer events and initiatives e.g.
Awareness of Carers Week 2023,
who is the Carer’s Lead
Triangle of Care
Family & Carer strategy …..and lots more..
I opened the event with a focus on why I think carer networks are so important. I often write books on why carers need to connect and also why services should provide the empowerment and platform for carers to connect. If we connect, we can listen and try to understand the complex world of unpaid carers.
The speakers for the Regional Carer Network event were as follows.
Kate Mercer who is a Family Advocate from Black Belt Advocacy. Kate spoke about carer’s rights. She has worked on national projects with NICE, CSIP, NDTi and NHS England, most recently looking into the quality and availability of advocacy within in-patient settings for people with a learning disability and autistic people.
We also had Christian Young who is the General Counsel at Cygnet Health Care. Christian qualified as a lawyer in 1998, he then joined NHS England as Deputy Head of Legal Services before moving on to Cygnet.
Next to present was Philip Winterbottom who is Head of Safeguarding at Cygnet Health Care. Philip did an excellent presentation on the importance of safeguarding at health services. It is important we all know our duties to provide the best care of those who use our services.
We also was joined by Jo-Ann McAuliffe who is Deputy Director of Nursing. Jo spoke about the importance of recognising carers and how Cygnet can work with unpaid carers.
Lesley Mellor who is the other Expert by Experience Carer Ambassador for Cygnet spoke about her experience of providing care. Lesley is the is the chair of Dorset Parent Carer Council.
During the event, attendees were certainly looked after. We had a lovely lunch and I actually took some of the food home with me.
Cygnet also provided carers we lots of information, where Laura and Jo promoted Cygnet’s new Carers Strategy with more carer information to take home after the event.
All in all I enjoyed the regional carer network event and have connected to a few carers. The network will take time to develop, but we can all learn from each other. As the core of the Triangle of Care, we need to balance the connection so carers are not shut out.
Thanks for reading. More blogs to come for Carers Week 2023
Healthwatch Greenwich project wants to uncover experiences and understand access to carer support, information, and services for Black and Ethnic Minority carers. By sharing your experiences, and speaking to other carers, you can help Healthwatch Greenwich identify the strategies and solutions that will enable Black and Ethnic Minority carers receive the best possible support.
How will we carry out this project?
Healthwatch Greenwich are excited to partner with Black and Ethnic Minority carers as paid co-researchers in this project. As experts by experience, you’ll bring unique perspectives that are essential to its success.
Who can be a co-researcher?
An adult carer: Someone who looks after or gives any help or support to a family member, friend or neighbour because of long term physical disability, mental ill-health or problems related to old age. The care they give is unpaid.
From a Black or ethnic minority background What will co-researchers do?
Contribute to the design of the project.
Find and speak to other Black and ethnic minority carers
Contribute to the analysis and presentations of the findings.
Take part in training and support sessions. How much will co-researchers be paid? Co-researchers will receive £15/hour. Hourly payment includes all additional expenses involved in taking part in this project, such as care costs, childcare payments, telephone, and travel costs. Co-researchers will take part in up to 8 days of involvement work spread across a number of days between June and September 2023.
How do I apply? If you’re interested, Healthwatch Greenwich ask you to complete a short application and have a friendly interview. Please contact Jahan at email@example.com or on 07498 851 221.
A new research project is underway at the University of Kent. The research is called Diverse Experiences of unpaid Carers Across the caring Trajectory (DECAT). DECAT is looking for carers to take part in a telephone interview about their experience of being a carer. Currently, Black and Asian carers and carers who are LGBT+ are under-represented within our participants.
The main aim of this study is to understand the factors linked to carers’ satisfaction with social services and quality of life over time.
A questionnaire will be sent to a sample of carers recruited via four local authorities containing questions previously collected in the 2018/19 Personal Social Survey for Adult Carers in England, plus additional questions. The degree to which carers’ satisfaction and quality of life scores differ from scores collected in 2018/19 will be examined. Factors associated with changes will be explored and the scores of subgroups of carers will be compared.
You can contact Dr Diane Fox
Diane Fox University of Kent Personal Social Services Research Unit Cornwallis Central Canterbury Kent CT2 7NF
Welcome back fellow carers. Carer Story number 8 is nearly finished. As promised, I am continuing to write carer fictional stories. These stories are based on those caring for someone suffering mental illness.
All audio and video stories are from the book I am working on “Providing Care & Other short stories”. I aim to write 20 short carer stories and add them to an audio book. The quality of the audio stories are increasing each time.
Story number 8 is unfortunately very difficult to listen to. Not because of any quality issues, but due to the nature of the story. As a carer campaigner, I often raise awareness of mental health carers. This time I am focusing on ethnic mental health carers. The story discriminated looks at the challenges a young black woman called Jennifer will face when caring for her brother Darren.
The story also follows Darren’s traumatic journey through the mental health system and the fragmented role of the NHS and the Police.
At the time of the release of this story, you might have heard the police refusing to take mental health calls.
Once you have watched this story, you will probably understand why. With mental illness increasing at rapid levels, health and social care are struggling to catch up. It is now the family, friends who are caring that will have to step in.
The question remains on if unpaid mental health carers have the resources to cope.
Story number 8 – Discriminated to be release soon.
Carers week 2023 approaches. When you start your journey providing unpaid care it can be a long journey. You might start out caring for someone with cancer, mental illness or physical health difficulties. No matter how you see it, you will starting out on a journey.
As an author and poet, I have written extensively on the journey I have travelled. I hae also written about the path where many other unpaid carers will have to walk.
It helps when former or veteran carers help guide others down that road. We need to be aware that not all carer journeys are the same, but it helps if we identify and value each other.
Below is a poem taken from my book “The Poetry book of mental health caring”. You can check out that book at the end of this blog post. I do actually have some podcasts of the poems off my website.
This poem “The Long Road” talks about how a former carer looks back down the road they have travelled. They see new people beginning their caring journey. The stop and tell those carers about that journey. This is a peer carer task, but it is so important vulnerable groups look out for each other.
Welcome back to another blog post by carer activist Matthew McKenzie. This site focuses on those who provide unpaid care to someone close to them. Recently I have just come back from a 2 day conference held over at Conference Aston just by Aston University Campus. The event held on 17th May was Carers Trust’s “Making Carers Count” conference.
You might have seen a couple of blog posts about Carers Trust. Basically Carers Trust is a national charity that works to transform the lives of unpaid carers. Carers trust believe in partnership in order to give support and voices to unpaid carers. They have 124 Network Partners all doing their bit to transform change for unpaid carers.
Basically Carers Trust want unpaid carers to be heard, valued and supported.
So with the “Making Carers Count” conference. We were joined by some of the network partners to “Reflect, Connect & Learn”.
The day kicked off with a carer panel discussion. We were joined by 3 carers all giving their voice on the changes to their lives in providing unpaid care. Those on the panel were not your average carers. They also empowered other carers and were knowledgable about their caring role. A young carer on the panel mentioned she had other skills and should not be counted as just a carer.
She was also joined other carers talking about their journey and how their own carers centre helped them.
The attendees and network partners paired up to work on a session looking to understanding different carer projects. Plus we also celebrated collective achievements. In attendance were representatives from Tower Hamelets, Carers UK, Mid Yorkshire , blackpool carers, Wandsworth Carers, Credu carers, Crossroad carers, Carers First, Carers Heart of England, City and Hackney carers, Sussex Carers, Northants Carers, Newcastle carers centre, Bridgend Carers Centre, Harrow Carers and many more.
It was amazing to hear all the good work each carer centre had done. We have done so much over the Carers Trust programme, but there is much more to do. The networking was followed up by a Collective solutions event. Carers Trust then presented the importance of working together and we had a discussion on project challenges regarding the Making Carers Count Programme.
There were some great project updates
Carers Heart of England – Projects on the rise of engagement with their cultural carer groups and key events such as the Diwali Event.
Wandsworth Carers – Their LGBTO+ carers peer support group
Improving Lives Plymouth – Projects on the importance of peer to peer support growing, due to monthly drop ins and activities.
Newcastle Carers – Developing and understanding of the needs of carers from Asylum seeker and refugee communities in Newcastle
City & Hackney – Engaging with young people, especially using technology like their whatsApp group.
There were more project highlights from aother carer centres, but the blog would go on forever if I listed all of them. The conference moved on to discussing and identifying actions and recommendations for the Carers Trust Network due to their latest “Making Carers Count” Programme.
For Day 2 of the conference, I was delighted to be included on the panel discussion of developing and designing inclusive services for carers. I was joined on the panel with Andy Barber from “Caring Together” and Vicky Morgan who is the Head of Young Carers and Young Adult Carers at Carers Trust. Thanks to Trisha Thompson (Carers Trust head of grants) hosting the panel.
My thoughts regarding service inclusion is that it takes time for carers to get involved. To be honest inclusive services should be including carers at the start, especially hearing carer stories and picking up themes that carers struggle with.
With those themes e.g. problems with carer assessments, being heard as a carer, or access to a service. It might allow the carer to give input on how to improve the quality of services.
I mentioned earlier on in the blog that Northamptonshire carers attended and at my talk I mentioned that the service provided by Northants carers actually won the HSJ 2022 award for system led support for carers. The award for 2021 went to Sussex carers, but it does go to show that having such network partners makes a difference for carers.
We can all learn from each other.
I could not stay for the full conference, although there were excellent presentations from other attendees. Plus a pleasent suprise to meet Carers UK staff.
overall I enjoyed the event and was very grateful to be given a voice as a carer.
You can find more about Carers Trust from the link below.
Hello everyone, welcome to another blog post by carer activist and author Matthew McKenzie. To watch the video version of this blog, click the video below.
I raise awareness of those caring for someone with a mental illness. I also raise awareness regarding cancer carers. Those caring for someone with cancer can also suffer mental health due to stress, guilt, anxiety and depression. In fact everyone actually has levels of mental health. It is not just reserved for those suffering mental illness. We need to be aware and awareness events are just the thing to help with that awareness.
So from May 15 to may 21 it is Mental Health Awareness week 2023. Now this is an annual event to raise awareness of the importance of mental health.
The official theme for this year, as set by the Mental Health Foundation, is ‘anxiety’.
Mental Health Awareness Week will increase people’s awareness and understanding of anxiety by providing information on the things that can help prevent it from becoming a problem.
Anxiety disorders affect over 8 million people in the UK – that’s a little over 1 in 10 of us and there are lots of different types.
For carers as I have mentioned before, there are many things that can cause anxiety. The first is worrying about the health of the person you care for. We also need to remember that The cost of living crisis is affecting the mental health of millions.
You can Get involved this Mental Health Awareness Week by checking out Rethink mental illness, Mind, Sane, Mental Health Foundation social media and share on your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram profiles.