Welcome back for the October update of the Southwark Mental Health Carers forum. Just so those to the blog understand. The term mental health carer does not mean the mental health of carers, it is a term to describe an unpaid carer supporting someone close who has mental health needs.
I would like to kindly thank Southwark CCG and Southwark Healthwatch in helping to advertise and publicise the carers forum.
The Southwark MH carers forum aims to allow unpaid carers to have a chance to understand and forum a relationship with mental health services in the borough of Southwark, we do not stop there. It is a right for unpaid carers to query health services and voice their opinions. Most members seek to understand why the social care and health services are the way they are. It does not help that the NHS changes rapidly and can be complex to adapt to local needs.
The Southwark Mental Health carers forum had engagement from Kings NHS mental health strategy lead Gavin Smith to explain his mental health strategy. We also had Rebecca Martland from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience attend to talk about her new study, plus we were hoping Zenette Abrahams could update us on Southwark Council’s carers strategy.
Before we continued on with the forum which runs from Southwark Carers. I noticed there was a lot of pictures and items on show. I had just caught the Southwark Carers Black History month exhibition and celebration, which was put on by one of the Southwark Carers Trustee. I spoke to her about the importance of Black history, which takes place in the month of October.
Just so you know Southwark Carers provides several services, one being the enabling service, which encompasses active listening, advocacy, signposting and support in tackling stressful issues outside of the caring role. The other being empowering carers with information and knowledge about their rights.
There were lots of photos on display regarding heros of black history and what it was like to live in those times. The CEO of Southwark Carers kindly showed me one of the costume cut outs.
We had a good turn out at the carers forum as I explained the agenda and unfortunately Gavin could not stay, but would be back again in future. I explained to the members of the forum as to why it was important to have a platform for carers to at least be interested on what their borough was doing for them. It should be a right for carers to come together and share what is working for them and what is not working.
The forum still needs to grow further so I have some work to do. I spoke on the updates provided by Southwark council in regards to the Carers Pathways Project Board. The Carers Pathways Project Board was established at the end of July, and work being undertaken around the carers pathway. I was given a contact to at least find out how the board was getting along. It is important carers be updated on what will be provided for them, rather than systems being designed where there is little or no carer input. It does not matter if it is bad news, but carers should know about it.
Next we had Rebecca talk about her project regarding improving physical health of patients on the inpatient wards. Basically they are starting a feasibility to see whether High intensity interval training (HIIT) might be acceptable and helpful for inpatients with Serious mental illness.
Eligible patients who consent to take part would be randomly allocated to HIIT or to Treatment as usual. The HIIT involves alternating short bursts of high intensity exercise (1 minute intervals) with recovery periods of light exercise (90 second intervals) (Each session will take 11 minutes overall + warm-up and cool-down) and will take place in the Bethlem and Maudsley Hospitals on a stationary bike – People will be asked to attend for up to 12 weeks, even after their discharge, but they’ll start as inpatients.
The group discussed how important exercise is for those suffering mental ill health and felt physical health support was not focused on enough. Some members signed up to be part of Rebecca’s focus group.
I then updated members on the following being Guys & St Thomas carer’s policy and it means for both Kings NHS trust and Guys and St thomas NHS Trust.
I then updated the members about the Carers UK conference and what I spoke about at the conference, then I spoke about my visit to South West London & St George inpatient ward to speak to staff about carer involvement. I then spoke about the Lewisham CCG Mental Health stakeholder event with some members querying if Southwark CCG are doing something like that.
I then updated members regarding the carers support group and also that there will be a joint Southwark and Lambeth MH carers forum next month where MP Helen Hayes will be attending.
We then heard updates from members who attended the SLaM NHS Southwark Advisory group, where plans to redevelop a ward were shown, plus a few other updates. Some members also registered to be on Southwark’s carers members list.
For Black History month I will be speaking at St Andrews healthcare on a carers view of BAME inclusion in the NHS and will probably write a blog before then.
Overall the Southwark MH Carers forum was empowering and there is plenty of work to do to raise carer focus, awareness and empowerment in the borough of Southwark.