Lewisham BME MH Carer/SU Forum May Update

Welcome back to a quick update on one of the mental health carer forums I chair. This particular forum involves unpaid BME carers and those using or have used the mental health system. This is the only forum which involves ethnicity at it’s core.

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Lewisham is a very diverse borough and there is a high rate of mental health representation amongst the afro/carribean population. The forum has been running since last year and we have made a lot of progress, especially through engagement.

The forum runs once a month, usually on a Friday. The main topic for the May BME forum was on the SLaM quality report on the “Quality Priority setting for 2018/19”. All 4 of the Mental Health forums had a chance to give feedback on the mental health services South London & Maudsley provides regarding quality improvement. Despite feedback having to be rushed, I am grateful that the board has given the forums opportunity to provide feedback.

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The report is an 8 page breakdown of where feedback is given in regards to improving quality of services at the trust. The BME MH forum meeting held on the 25th of May focused on page 7 of the report. I allowed each member of the forum to speak about how they felt was raised in the report.
– Quite a few had opinions about how medication could be improved and wondered how the forum would be updated on progress.

– It was mentioned that some people would not have time to read the report and it should have pictures, but I felt at least we can have a discussion about the report so members can hear other’s views who had read the report.

– A lot of the members felt it was very important that the board take the suggestion of including familes in services, especially on the ward. One member felt comforted that family visited them on the ward, because they had a difficult time with staff.

– Another member wanted more information booklets, since I had handed them the new carers handbook, the confidentiality handbook and they queried why they had not seen those before.

– Some members want engagement regarding what compliants and compliments are made across the trust

– Lastly a discussion was raised on the problem of training staff to be empathic, especially staff from BME backgrounds who still lack empathy towards BME service users. This requires more discussion.

The forum members look forward to the Police along with the Central Place of Safety attending the June forum, especially since there was concern due to the recent death in Catford.

One important note is the members wish to have a mental health act officer engage with them to understand not only the mental health act, but also how the trust will adopt any new changes to Mental Health Law.

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