Croydon’s Hear Us Open Forum – March

Hello Everyone, welcome to another of my blog posts and this time I am covering an event or forum shall we say. This open forum is from Hear-Us. Now “Hear US” is Croydon’s Mental Health Service User Group. They act as a coordinating body to facilitate, and ensure service users involvement in, the planning, delivery and monitoring of mental health services in Croydon.

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So on Tuesday 1st March 2016 I was back at the CVA centre in Croydon. I guess It has been a while since I was over there.

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This latest forum was to look at the purpose is about the role and form of future Forums. We were mean’t to have at the open forum a Guest speaker from the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, but instead we had to move on to focus groups looking at how we felt about Croydon’s mental health services.

First the attendees were treated to some Lunch.

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There were different themes for each of the groups.

The first question was :

For Those who have been at some wards in Croydon – how has occupational therapy benefited you?

Now I am going to state the answers as generally as possible to avoid confidentiality issues.

Someone felt that  occupational therapy was not too helpful as no one facilitated the activities and we were left to get on with it. However they did enjoy the group activities, especially the mindfulness.

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The next question was on how occupational therapy out in the community

– Activities referred by GP when out in the community, found it helpful when they were speaking to the GP along with their family or carer.

The last question looked at occupational therapy from Third parties e.g. charities, volunteer organisations and so on.

Organisations like Croydon Mind, Imagine and “Hear Us” Open forums is very useful in order to find what is going on.

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Martial arts activities were very useful, especially activities involving physical exercise.
Active minds – Drama very useful, photography, the referral was very easy from the GP.

Care coordinator help, depends on the level of knowledge. One felt they were fairly useful, especially looking work and getting confidence for work.

The next set of questions looked at

How service users were treated, with dignity and respect.

Now someone felt Fed up on being reminded that they were going to be assessed, but it took ages to be seen.

We then looked at Respect and dignity in the area

One person was not too happy on having to travel to get support, too many assessment letters. Too strict regarding how they lived their lift. Has no care coordinator and feels isolated. However one person stated that the NHS has a policy and they need to follow it, but they did understand that applying the policy should allow the service user to be treated with some respect.

Another felt pressured to apply for work and being assessed and reassessed to get work. Staff were rude, asked carer to go outside when being assessed at ATOS. Too many letters and fairly intimidating.

The next question looked at Accessing services in the community

Now there have been some changes with the services, not been sure about all the changes and it seems we are expected to comply with changes.

Someone mentioned how staff in Purly (croydon) were very nice and polite, they remembered my name. To be honest I do not expect staff to remember me, but when they do, its very nice.

Another stated that when they go in as a link worker regarding a service, there still needs more improvement.

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This was when I enquired about where the link workers go and how long they go for, usually its about an hour and a half for each ward. E.g. Triage wards, Gresham wards and so on.

Chelsem ward has a carer group, link-workers were asked to attend and view. Carers groups does depend on the knowledge of staff, plus doctors and psychiatrists have a influence regarding if and when groups are formed.

Another was not happy being told to just watch YouTube videos, need more one to one therapy, although someone mentioned they have no problem watching the videos, but want to avoid doctor virtual.

One felt that coming to hear us for the first time, I felt I was heard and listened to, at least being valued.

Another person was very happy with the respect and dignity from the voluntary sector, it feels they is no pressure from them. They Can get out and do things.

Unfortunately I could not stay for too long, but I did catch one more session of focus group questions and this one looked at Welfare and benefits

This question looked at support provided for benefit support either in inpatient setting or community teams.

Someone noted that Attendance allowance was means tested for me, so there was some confusion. The system is complex without help.

I queried who is doing the assessments for carers and how close these assesments to the care act in picking up carers in need while their loved one is on the road to recovery

It was noted that Migration from DLA to PIP causes you to be reassessed. There are problems regarding assessment when having to access universal credit because only online applications are accepted.

Unfortunately I had to leave the open forum, but I hope to return in April to here about developments from Croydon’s New Adult Mental Health Model.

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