Monthly Archives: February 2018

Southwark MH Carers forum February 2018

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Here is the update for the Southwark Mental Health Carers forum. This is newest forum that I chair, which with the help of Southwark Carers aims to bring together carers in the London Borough of Southwark.

The point of the forum is to allow carers a stronger voice regarding how they are supported in that borough. Carers might not even know what South London & Maudsely does and how it can help support carers. Some carers cannot possibly come involved with the trust, but may wish to attend a certain theme about the forum.

For the february forum we had the “public and patient involvement lead” attending to help plan who should engage with the Southwark MH carers forum in future. A lot of the carers were just arriving from the new carer course, which had been running at the Recovery college. The course was set up in partnership with Southwark Carers.

At this forum, I presented on the themes which carers may want a SLaM staff member to present on. It is important that the forum should ask questions on specific topics and not just have a guest speaker talking about how to contact PALs. Members of the carers forum, should be interesting in the number of complients, compliments and how carers concerns are raised.

The forum members were interested in engagement from

– What research the IOPPN is doing, especially on involvement
– The Mind & Body project which is a partnership between SLaM and Kings College London.
– Representatives from Southwark CCG
– Reps from the council
– Updates & issues regarding carers assessments

We hope to present some updates to the SLaM family & Carers committee. At the forum we also heard updates on how the “Carer Course” had run, plus feedback from the new Mental Health ACT changes. Yet again, we thank the involvement lead for supporting the forums.

 

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BME MH Carer forum update February 2018

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Welcome to the February update of the Lewisham BME mental health carers forum. I know the title of the group in lewisham is very long, but it does cover the aspects of Black Minority Ethnic and mental health.

Out of the 4 carer forums I chair in South London, this one is a mix of service users and carers. The forum started last year, so it is fairly new. The older forum which is the Lewisham Carers MH forum has been running close to 2 years.

On the february update, we were joined by South London and Maudsley’s Patient and Public involvement lead Alice Glover. I have been on many of Alice’s involvement groups for some years, so it was great to get support from her in which she contributed to the forum. Her task for the february forum was on how can the South London trust support this particular forum.

We all decided that perhaps each month would have a representative from the trust to speak to the forum and engage with matters arising or even compliments. There was some frank discussion on that day as a majority of experiences were about the police. Other important discussions related to medication, education about mental health, difficult experiences and who would engage with the forum in future.

Other interesting discussions were on the courses available at the SLaM recovery college and the new Black Thrive intiative event, which will take place on the 14th of March. See link for more details.

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/thrive-ldn-lewisham-community-workshop-tickets-42455852598?aff=es2

The involvement lead presented on getting involved with the trust, which one of the members was very interested in doing. Other leaflets and cards were handed out about trust, including membership which gives patients, staff and carers a more powerful voice regarding the direction of the trust.

The forum slightly over ran, but in the end a lot of progress was made and we all appreciated Alice engaging with the BME forum.

Speaking up as an unpaid carer

Big problems - daughter comforts senior motherAs you may or may not already know, this website is dedicated to unpaid carers and raising mental health awareness. An unpaid carer is someone looking after a relative or someone close who has physical or mental health needs. An unpaid carer is not a care worker, carer workers are paid to provide support and can do most tasks out of choice, while unpaid carers do their role almost out of desperation.

This particular blog is about giving unpaid carers some inspiration to get their voices out there. Why is this? Because if carers do not speak up then it is hard for mental health commissioners or health services to work with carer needs.

Being a carer can be daunting as very few suddenly expect to provide care at a specific time, although most feel that there will come a time when they have to support aging parents, unwell partners or even a friend. When caring for someone with health needs, there can be some relief that the ‘cared for’ has some idea what support they require. This can be be tricky if the ‘cared for’ has mental health needs and due to mental capacity issues refuses care or support.

It is vital carers raise their voices regarding such issues, especially if they live with the ‘cared for’. Many carers just cope from day to day thinking there is no need for support for themselves, but if the carer falls unwell then who will provide support for the ‘cared for’?

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If you are a carer, do not feel worried, frightened or scared to speak up about your caring experiences or caring journey.

So where can carers speak in regards to their caring journey?

There are several places and one of them usually can be at a focus group, especially if its run by a mental health service. The service may want to hear what carers think about a particular service provision, so it is vitally important carers take the time to provide opinions.

Other places could be about a mental health service carers strategy, or a mental health awareness event setting. Carers can also speak up about their caring role at a carers support group, which is vital if a carer needs to let off stream or get something off their chest. Sometimes a carer issue cannot be solved overnight, but most carers do with to be heard or listened to.

Other places where carers can speak is at carer forums, I chair many in south London and look forward to hearing carers ideas and suggestions. Carers need not complain, shout or always play the blame game. The focus is on how we can all work together although I am aware of the frustration with services and feeling that carers are not being listened to or not being taken seriously.

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If you are caring for someone with physical or mental health needs, please check out any important health events in your area. You have given so much to your family, friend or the community, it is time to be heard.

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