Welcome to another blog post from a carer who is caring for a close relative using the mental health services. This particular blog post is about a mental health forum over in Croydon, which is free to attend as service user, carer or even mental health professionals.
This mental health forum is called the ‘Hear Us Open Forum, but what is Hear Us all about?
Taken from their website.
Hear Us is Croydon’s Mental Health Service User Group which acts as a coordinating body to facilitate, and ensure service users involvement in, the planning, delivery and monitoring of mental health services in Croydon. Helping to improve the quality of the services commissioned and delivered in Croydon objectives.
- To relieve the needs of people living in the London Borough of Croydon and surrounding areas who have mental health problems by provision of services and advice.
- To advance education about mental health for the public benefit in the London borough of Croydon and surrounding areas with the object of creating awareness and reducing the stigma attached to mental health.
Now Hear Us run their open forum every 2nd Tuesday of each month. Unfortunately I have been so busy that I have missed 2 of their past open forums, but this time I was determined to catch their December forum and I was not disappointed.
So what was in store for us at the December Hear Us forum?
Well first we got to hear about the latest Hear Us AGM.
Next was the presentation by Lee Roach on the Reablement Service
Plus last but not least was the Mental Health Strategy from Susan Grose one of the Croydon CCG Commissioners.
First we had a lovely hot lunch for the cold December day. I was fairly greedy and had several slices of pizza.
Next up was David Ashton chairing the event and going through the forum procedure and agenda for the day.
We discussed the Hear Us annual report for 2013/14. We were all handed out a copy of the report and members of Hear Us actually got the report earlier on. The report was an interesting read where we got to hear from the Chair, an introduction to members of the Hear Us board. We also got to read up about the latest developments on the Linkworking project and view the Hear Us accounts and financial review.
At the forum we heard more about the members of the Hear Us board and some of them introduced themselves to the attendees of the forum. There were also some interesting and probing questions, here are some I picked up at the December forum.
One member was interested in Hear Us aims on Autism.
Another person asked on how people became trustees
I remember one of the Hear Us workers replying to the question about how rigorous the process is on applying to become a trustee.
This was when some of the Trustees of the Hear Us board introduced themselves to us. One of them Felicia who was sitting next to chair of the forum David Ashton. Felicia explained how much experience she has within mental health and the mental health services.
The attendees of the forum were asked if they were happy with trustees, which I felt was a good question and showed that Hear Us valued their member’s opinions.
The first presentation at the forum was Lee Roach who is an Occupational Therapist on the Croydon Mental Health Reablement Project.
Lee told us the following at the forum.
Who he is and what he does
What the Mental Health Reablement service project in Croydon
How important it is for Reablement project to be inline with the new care act coming out in 2015.
Lee mentioned that the Reablement services are still fairly new and there are not many reablement services out there.
Lee also explained a bit about what Reablement actually means. Basically reablement means helping people regain the ability to look after themselves as in self care.
Lee then talked about how some are referred to their Reablement service although they do not take referral from GPs.
However anyone can be referred from IAPTs or Community Mental Health Teams.
The reablement project is actually a pilot, which means it is under evaluation at the same time to see how the project affects the community. The project has been running for 2 years and a report out in 2015.
However some people at the forum were worried that people being reffered back to GP and they wondered why the GP can’t refer patients back to services.
There also was other important questions aimed at Lee and they were.
Why could the reablement project not run in conjunction with services.
– It was mentioned that it is important to state the reablement service does not deal with medication and those referred are at a point of recovery when being reffered to the service. However someone followed up on the answer and stated if you do not support on medication, what happens if there are medical issues after refferal?
One member of the audience felt that the Care act must be empowering to Service User and that they feel dis-empowered in the London borough of Croydon, he wondered who is making these decisions on these services.
– We are under a steering group under Mind and HearUs, take makes sure our services are in the best services levels in regarding service users.
Another interested discussion was on the option on ‘easy in easy out’ service over in Purly where the GP refer back to team faster if they are concerned, this is where urgent appointments available in 7 days.
A felt another good question was someone asking what are the evaluation of the service so far?
Lee stated so far there are positive findings of the service, but they need to engage with carers more. Plus they are also focusing on leisure and work of people’s lives, plus learning new skills (reading and writing, new courses, yoga, exercise).
One last question I noticed was that one person was worried about those who do not have a care coordinator, but were passed on to outside agencies, seems two-tiered group.
After a short break and some networking we moved on to the next presentation, which was presented by Susan Grose the Croydon CCG mental health Commissioner. Susan spoke about the Croydon CCG MENTAL HEALTH STRATEGY and wanted to hear the views of service users, carers and members of the public.
Susan Grose was actually an Interim commissioner in Lewisham a while back and is now a commissioner for Croydon
Susan spoke about how the borough of Croydon is changing and is more likely going to be more deprived. One in Six adults in Croydon has a hemtal health need and it is stated that Anxiety and depression are projected to increase by 5%.
Susan mentioned the need to improve integration of mental health with physical health, which is something I clearly agree and support. Susan also spoke about the need to better address the needs of BME communities where there is a 40% of acute admissions. Croydon CCG have also invested in the use of IAPT services, which basically means Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies.
Susan then moved on to presenting the need to ensure the wider determinants of health to be addressed, that being housing, education and employment support. Plus also addressing variation in primary care and easy access to whole life support to improve and maintain mental well being.
Croydon CCG have been busy consulting with service users and stakeholders, they have held a number of workshops with GPs and developed associated strategies for CAMHS and OAMH. They have committed to the investment of £5.2 million to stabilise the system and invest in community services, plus invested £600K in IAPT services.
Susan spent some time at the forum showing us the Proposed Adult Mental Health Model where we were explained the steps on stabilisation of the mental health services in Croydon and how gatekeeping, capacity building and relapse prevention can fit into this model.
Some of the Key aims of the strategy is to ensure voluntary and third sector provision works alongside with primary and secondary health services. Another aim is to improve the quality of life of people with mental health needs, improve access to mental health services, strengthen partnership working and ensure there is education available on mental health awareness.
The next steps for the strategy is to develop a strategy action plan with service users and stakeholders although I do hope they involve the carers. Other steps are to continue to work in collaboration with other CCG commissioners and also refine the community adult mental health.
So what questions came up in the discussions?
One person was worried about waiting times on IAPTs, However it was explained that lack of funding was a result of this and they are working to improve waiting times.
Another question was on the cutting beds to increase throughput was not the best idea, the person felt it is best to keep those beds, the commissioner agreed with this statement.
A good question was on the problem of hostel’s closing and the concern of hostel provisioning. It was stated that there was worry about many of the hostel’s are privately owned, need to look carefully at where those in those areas, receiving services in the right setting, its not an easy problem to solve, so no answer as yet.
Another interesting question was on how to access dementia services, which takes too long. Susan did agree and stated that dementia is high on national agenda. The UK is an ageing population and dementia is a silent time-bomb, we need to educate people.
There was also many other interesting questions, but overall I really enjoyed the forum and look forward to the next forum, I felt David chaired the forum very well and the staff were friendly and kind.