Monthly Archives: November 2017

Lewisham MH Carers forum November

133Welcome to the November update of the Lewisham Mental Health carers forum for 2017. This will be the last forum for 2017 until January 2018. The carers forum has been running in Lewisham for some years now and there has been some minor problems, but many successes.

For the November forum on the agenda we had feedback from South London & Maudsley regarding carer queries from the October meeting. The patient information officer did a great job in notifying the involvement lead, information manager and engagement lead regarding carer queries.

  • Most queries centered on providing SLaM’s carer Handbook for GPs.
  • The trusts progress on Triangle of Care
  • Compliments regarding the trusts new carers handbook
  • Plus engagement from the Head of the acute pathway to the MH carers forum in Lewisham.

I gave feedback to the attendees to the forum and all who attended were delighted with the effort the trust took to engage with involved carers.

For the November MH carers forum, we had a carers lewisham advocate update the forum members on what Carers Lewisham is doing for carers. There was other updates on

  • Promotion of the MH Carers forum.
  • The upcoming Carers Lewisham AGM.
  • Update on the 4 carer areas.
  • Print out of the latest Carers Lewisham Newsletter.

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We also discussed who is attending the carers forum for the new year, which can help with setting the agenda so other carers know what will be discussed.

During the forum Lucy Phiri who is the trust’s new modern Matron for Croydon and modern matron lead for carers dropped by to tell carers about what a modern matron does. Carers who attended were updated on the importance of quality on the wards, looking into CQC actions and engaging with families and carers. We found who are the 4 modern matrons for each of the 4 boroughs.

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Queries from carers were on if there is or will be a deputy for carer leads because if a carer lead is unwell or moves on then it is hard to continue a carer focused role, e.g. chain of command breaks down for staff and carer.

Other queries were carers having trouble getting a carers assessment if their ‘cared for’ is not engaging with the services.

Lastly, the good news is that carers were happy to hear that there will be a new carer lead forum/network starting up and the Modern matron will take up some of our queries to the meeting the next day.

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Why you care

Mother comforts her teen daughterIf you are a non paid carer of someone suffering from mental illness, there will be times that you question yourself on why you care. Especially during the toughest part of a crisis. It might be that you constantly fear loosing that person through an eating disorder, addiction or psychotic episode. It may be that you are having difficultly getting your point across to mental health professionals especially when the NHS is in its time of crisis.

You may question not only the reason why you care, but question your own well being.

Being a non-paid carer is vital not only for the person being cared for, but for the community. Each community thrives on people want to help each other out, after all isn’t that how communities work? We share all things in common, we all want to get along and wish the best for each other. It is unfortunate that life is not always fair, there will be that special someone struck down with mental illness that non-paid carers would have to fight for.

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Carers would like some assistance especially if they are struggling to make ends meet, it need not always be financial assistance, but recognition and hearing the carer can go a long way to improving engagement with the family.

I have been through the situation many times on if I was making the right decision, especially if I am having to try block my loved one’s decision or advocate for them, which might not always be in their interest. However I know in the long run, it would make big difference. I know in the long run it showed I really cared and that everything would turn out alright. My efforts as of this time did pay off.

Still there are many carers of those suffering from mental illness who still doubt themselves. Non-paid carers can be up against a mountain of red tape, lack of information, misunderstandings, lack of support, failing relationships and mental/physical turmoil themselves. It is true the mentally unwell person is getting the worst of it, but the carer struggle should not be ignored or discounted.

melancholy and sad young  woman  at the window in the rain

There are carers out there who can speak their mind and getting things sorted out quickly, but the majority of carers silently cope and continue on until they reach that breaking point. If you as a non-paid carer question why you are caring for someone close who is unwell, just think this to yourself, you do this because “YOU CARE”

Self Care Week

SCWwebbuttonlg2017Welcome back to another health awareness video. I have been gone quite a long while, but that doesn’t mean I have not been very busy. I usually am involved with many carer forums and groups in and around south/south east London. I try to raise awareness of unpaid carers who look after someone suffering from mental illness.

 

To see the video version, please click below

However there comes a time when we need to look after ourselves, be it if we are caring for someone or trying to care for ourselves. This video looks into Self Care week, which runs from November 13th to November 19th. The theme is Embracing Self Care for Life. Self care is about keeping fit and healthy, understanding when you can look after yourself and also when to askfor advice from a GP.

If you are unwell or suffer from a long term condition then it is very important you find out as much as you can in order to support yourself. Self care need not be so difficult if you know what you are dealing with.

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Across the UK many suffer needlessly when dealing with weight problems, lack of exercise and stopping smoking. Getting information or attending events can be useful in combating unhealthy lifestyles. If you are caring for someone, you can easily fall into the habit of not paying much attention to your own health needs. It is an easy mistake to make especially when you have little time for yourself.

From the self care forum website, there are tips and advice not only for yourself, but for GP surgeries and pharmacists up and down the UK. It is a massive drive to get the population healthier and combat damaging habits to our health.

Young couple gets counseled by a doctor

You can find out more about Self Care week from the Self Care forum on http://www.selfcareforum.org/events/self-care-week/

Remember if you cannot find time to self care for yourself, think of how hard it would be for you to care for someone else.

September update of the BME carers forum

IMG_20171027_115343This blog post is an update of September’s Lewisham BME carers forum. This is one of the four carer forums I am involved with and it is held over at a community centre called Family Health ISIS. The BME Carers forum was set up to provide a platform of engagement, empowerment, updates and issue raising out in the community.

It is important to note that the forum focuses on black African & Caribean carers who support/care for those suffering from mental illness. This is also one of the forums that has a mixture of carers and those with lived experience.

For September we were forunate enough to have engagement from Lewisham & Bromely Healthwatch. Marzena the community engagement officer came along to speak about what Healthwatch is all about and their mission to let others know about the health services available to them. Basically Healthwatch works to help local people get the best out of their local health and social care services.

As in the name, Lewisham & Bromely Healthwatch are covering two south east London boroughs, so they have a large area to cover.

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I felt that it is important all four of the carer forums have a link to their local healthwatches because many issues raised in the forums can be of great importance to such community organisations. It is important to note not all healthwatches are alike and they tend to work differently in each borough.

Marzena updated the forum about health services in the borough of Lewisham, but also spoke about the duties of healthwatch and what meetings they attended. Healthwatch have stronger connections to the health commissioners and other health and wellbeing committees.

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There was many passionate discussions about the issues members of family health ISIS are going through and I hope other guest speakers can work with the forum to tackle such problems.

Marzena also spoke about looking after your health and mentioned diabetes groups and support.  Healthwatch promoting diabetes peer support groups in the area.  Healthwatch also gave away some free products such as pens and hand sanitizers.

diabeties groups

I am grateful for Healthwatch for taking the time to engage with the BME mental health carer forum and hope they can attend the Lewisham Carers forum next year. Healthwatch also have offered to return to this forum in the new year.