Welcome back to another forum update, although this is not one of the carer forums I do, but a forum i usually try and attend over in West London. Yes, it might seem a bit of a trip to travel from south East London to West London, but I have been attending the West London Collaborative forum for some time now.
So why do I go all the way over there? To be honest, I am always interested in how mental health trusts engage with their communities, plus I am interested in how communities engage with the mental health services and commissioners. It helps if the community is very inviting and friendly and out of all the areas that have been welcoming and have a strong mental health presence seems to be West London community. The culture is different in regards to giving people a voice, but networking and finding strength in others is celebrated as many in society seem to find weaknesses in service users and those who support them.
A bit more about the WLC or known as “We Co-produce”.
Taken from their site “We Coproduce CIC” is an award winning social consultancy, owned and run by local people for people who care about the future of health care in the UK. They are commissioned to work with local communities to coproduce better and find braver solutions to health and social care challenges.
You can find more about them off their site https://www.wecoproduce.com/
The WLC forum took place at St Andrews Church on a cold Tuesday morning, the forums run once a month to cover the boroughs of Hounslow, Ealing and Hammersmith.
These are the borough West London NHS Trust covers, although the Mental Health trust covers a lot more areas including the famous Broadmoor hospital.
You can find out more on the West London MH Trust from the link below.
Who Presented the forum for that day
Usually when I attend, its Jane McGrath who facilitates the forum and has been doing so for a number of years. She is the CEO of “We Coproduce CIC”. Jane who has used the services of West London MH Trust places a strong emphasis on co-production and feels their should be an equal partnership being Patients, carers and health professionals.
Jane has a very high profile campaign, promoting and working towards the mental health of the community, although to my surprise Jane was away and we had two service user facilitators presenting the forum, which impressed me.
The reason why I was impressed is that the running a forum can be very challenging at times, you just do not know how things will run for time, or who will kick off (this is more of a polite way of mental health discussions sometimes becoming emotional). I was not going to do much at the forum, but when I saw how well and professional the 2 new facilitators were doing, I had to blog the forum off the fly.
In attendance at the forum where many patients, some carers including myself, the West London NHS Recovery college lead and also peer trainer. We also had in attendance Deputy Director of Nursing who leads on the Triangle of Care at the trust, the WLMHT Chaplin and also Representatives from the Local Mind centre as well as Trainee Clinical Psychologist. So you can see the facilitators had their work cut out. Sometimes I even see Carolyn Regan who is the CEO of West London MH Trust attend the forum, she often is smiling and very approachable.
On the agenda for the November forum was the discussion on how the Critical Voices Conference went. The conference was a 2 day event over in Ireland from the Critical Voices Network. The conference was held at University College Cork, and members of the forum attended and fed back to the attendees.
The conference looks into how psychiatry and psychology affects the community and 2019 theme was on challenging mental health systems: critical perspectives from inside out and outside in. The Keynote speakers of the conference was :-
Alison Faulkner, independent survivor researcher.
Anne O’Donnell, community educator/activist.
Fiona Venner who is the Chief Executive of Leeds Survivor Led Crisis Service.
Fionn Fitzpatrick, community development worker/ activist.
John Cromby who is the Professor of Psychology from University of Leicester.
Robert Whitaker, journalist, author of Anatomy of an Epidemic, founder of http://www.madinamerica.com.
We had a brilliant feedback discussion on what happened at the conference and a lot of talk was on Robert Whitaker’s view on the problem of anti-psychotics and the claim of measuring the chemical imbalances in people.
Robert Whitaker is author writing about medicine, science, and history. He has wrote five books, three of which cover the history or practice of modern psychiatry. The forum discussed the view on how psycho-therapy has been reduced as the medical model have taken over and the relationship between professional and patient has deteriorated.
Sally Gomme of the Wellbeing Network explained the issues with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and how so much emphassis was put on labelling mental health disorders and distancing people. It was not to say that medication does not work for everyone, after all we are all individuals, but the claim of measuring imbalances was to be challenged when it comes to mental health.
The discussion went both ways as some service users felt medication worked for them and and even though the side affects were horrible, at least it gave some hope. While others felt the medication can be a mis-use of treatment. Clinical professionals felt their aim was to help people recover, but did admit more work need to be done on therapy and access to therapy.
What quotes stood out in representing mental health activism.
The Critical voices conferences was a 2 day event, so there was plenty of workshops, presentations and sessions in which WLC members attended. If you want to see how big the conference was, please see the link below.
The forum attendees was set a workshop on quotes describing the importance of critical voices.
Famous quotes were shown from Franz Fannon, Henry Girdux, Angelia Davis, Antonio Gramsei and more. I chatted with forum Co-Facilitator Hannah Mcdonald (A Nurse who is the Royal College of Nursing mental health activist).about the quotes and as a group all fed back as a group on what quotes stood out for us.
Trainee Clinical Psychologist research presentation
I often observe how psychology and psychiatry engages with the community as all fields including psychiatry and psychology continue to develop and should be researched. We were lucky to have a Trainee Clinical Psychologist updating the forum on her research. So it was not always about Service user voice or the carer voice, but what we can learn together from the Clinical perspective.
Charlotte Martan the trainee clinical psychologist feed back the results of her research called “Implementation of a Service User and Carer feedback”. She talked to the group about Crisis Teams and getting feedback from those admitted to the Crisis house.
The outline of the project was
How NHS England felt that listening to people who use or care about the NHS can help understand people’s health needs better.
- Research Questions
The research looked at
1. Are patients and carers willing to provide feedback about their experience of the service following discharge?
2. How do service users and carers who access care from ECATT experience the service
3. What recommendations for improving service delivery and quality are offered by service users and carers?
4. Is it feasible to implement a feedback system in a crisis team setting?
Using existing literature to draft service evaluation questions
present draft to staff in team meetings
Attend groups to get feedback
- Feedback from Service Users
Where the WLC forum was updated on SU feedback
- Feedback from carers
The WLC forum was updated on carer feedback. One thing that stood out was that the Mental Health trust’s patient database was not constantly updated with carer information, so it was hard for the researcher to find carers to get feedback. One of the attendees felt that the triangle of Care framework will counter this and will seek to improve carer identification and auditing.
- Recommendation for implementing a feedback system
- Recommendation for service improvement
- Comments and suggestions
Overall feedback from service users and carers was positive about the service, although there were some areas of dis-satisfaction, especially on some service provision and lack of consistency in care.
Summing up forum
I would like to thank the facilitators who were kind and were happy for me to help promote the forum for the day. I certainly enjoyed some of the food the forum offered attendees, plus one of the patients brought showed some of his art, which fell out from the notes he was taking. I just had to take a photo in which he was pleased to show his work and he even offered to sketch a picture of myself, but that is for next time.
My view is that all mental health trusts and communities have a different style of engagement, one way of engagement might not work in another area of the community, however when I travel to a part of London where there are no Service User/Carer forums and the voices are silent, I begin to get suspicious as one quote stuck out during this forum.
“There’s really no such thing as the ‘Voiceless’. there are only the deliberately silenced, or the preferably unheard.”
Thank you for stopping by.