Monthly Archives: March 2020

Caring through the CoronaVirus

Corona VirusThanks for dropping by my carers blog post. This site raises awareness of unpaid carers and mental health. As of this blog post I am caring for someone close and just coping the best I can, while keeping a close eye on events. As of the title, this blog post is about the Corona virus and its implication to carers like myself and those in the community.

If you have been following my tweets on twitter, I have been posting that carers need to take care of themselves. Sometimes I have done a blog post about carer wellbeing and sometimes I will do a video blog or podcast.

Feel free to listen to a podcast on looking after yourself as a carer.


For carer health and wellbeing, it is now a vital challenge that carers must take care during the corona virus, not just for their own health, but also for those who they are caring for be it someone with Mental illness, physical health problems or an older adult.

A brief about the CoronaVirus

If you are still unsure what all the fuss is about. What is the Corona Virus or COVID-19?

The Coronavirus is a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. It has spread all around the world causing many to become unwell and causing many deaths. You might think that the corona virus is just a health risk, but it is much more than that as it poses an extreme challenge to the economy, functioning of society, trust in others and the community. The corona virus unfortunately has hit via a perfect storm of the flu season where the vulnerable are most at risk.

Still it is not all bad news as if you have a strong immune system or are under 60, most people recover depending on the symptoms. The big problem is carers are caring for those who are usually in the other category and it is a big concern for many carers across the globe. Many in the UK are concerned how governments are fighting the virus, especially in the UK

Carer concerns

Focusing on the UK at the time of this blog post. The government is moving from the ‘Contain phase’ to the ‘Delay phase’ due to the number of Corona virus cases appearing in the country. From what I understand, many experts feel the virus cannot be stopped anymore and that we must now slow the spread of the virus. If a person becomes infected, when they isolate themselves and recover, they become immune to the virus and thus cannot spread the virus to others in the community.

Blood pressure measuring

The aim of the strategy called ‘herd Immunity’ is that eventually much of the population will be immune to the virus. There are big gains with this strategy as the nature of the virus can behave this way, but there are also big risks and gambles. For ‘Herd Immunity’ to work, means that the virus needs to target those who can easily recover and thus the vulnerable can be kept safe. The other aim is to reduce pressure on the health services so those who can recover just isolate themselves while the vulnerable can use the health services.

When many unpaid carers heard the statement from the government about slowing the spread of the virus, there were many concerns because not one carer would want to be infected and bring the infection to those who they are caring for, because it could be a death sentence for the caree.

Many carers would prefer more emphasis on the government to focus on stopping the virus on spreading, but again there is a trade off because that could mean disruption of services, closing schools, lock downs and disruptions across the board. All this of course probably will come about, but the government would want disruption to be minimal, but at what cost?

What is happening for carers during the epidemic

Carers Trust and Carers UK both national charities campaigning for carers also have concerns and have issued a joint statement. From what I understand, the core of the statement is that Carers will come under severe pressure from the current climate. As if unpaid carers were not struggling already.

The Joint statement is aimed at Carers and also those who make important decisions regarding health and social care.

From the joint statement, the information that i focused on was the importance that Services must be in place for the following situations especially during the epidemic.

Other important concerns raised by the joint statement is about The role of mental health services. Please read the joint statement below.

https://www.carersuk.org/images/News_and_campaigns/Coronavirus/Covid-19_Joint_Statement_one.pdf

My views on the current challenges for carers

As if carers were not struggling enough already, even more will be asked of them. The whole situation is not even any carers fault as they are only doing what the community asks of them. To provide care and support for those close to them.

Never before have carers needed to focus on their own health needs because the ‘cared for’ will unfortunately suffer due to health and social services will come under more strain.

hands

The current climate will test communities to their limit and will cause major heartbreak and unfortunately many will lose their loved ones to the virus.

As a carer, I will do my best to let other carers know about their duties, but no more will it be just about caring, but understanding what the virus is and how it will change things. It will request carers understand what has changed in health services, using your voice as a carer to request support needs. Of course I will continue to run my forums remotely and network with carers who become isolated.

Us carers must come together, be counted and look out not only for who we care for, but also other carers. The challenges are only just beginning and it will be a long one.

To follow up on understanding the virus and what you need to do.  Please check out the following sites.

NHS -Coronavirus (COVID-19) Overview

Coronavirus (COVID-19): UK government response

Good luck on your caring Journey

Lewisham BAME MH Carer Forum February 2020

IMG_20200228_095949Welcome to the February update of the Lewisham BAME Mental Health carers forum. The forum is aimed at black Afo-Caribbean, Asian and other minorities carers in the borough of Lewisham, however I am happy for other carers in surrounding boroughs to attend. The forum is run from Bromley, Lewisham and Greenwich Mind centre under the arm of Community Wellbeing.

The forum is more educational and allows carers to discuss with mental health service providers any queries about services. A high majority of the BAME community use mental health services and some of the issues are specific regarding race, culture and even language. The issues are complex and deep, but discussions, forming relationships, education and working together is the way forward.

For the February forum we were blessed to have an outreach ad support service engage with the forum. The service was called OASIS and they kindly provided a workshop for the members of the forum. OASIS is a mental health service for young people (14-35 years old), living in the London boroughs of Lambeth, Southwark, Lewisham and Croydon. They provide support for up to two years, for people struggling with experiences like hearing voices or feeling paranoid.

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OASIS ran a workshop for the forum, which was on ‘Psychosis and Unusual Experiences’. Many members of the forum in the past often asked for more education on psychosis. The members wondered how Psychosis affects the person they care for. So I was really glad that OASIS stepped in and provided a lovely workshop for us.

I was amazed to see that OASIS came along with a patient to tell her story, which I thought was inspiring and left a great impression on me. It showed there is always hope no matter how difficult things became.

Back to the presentation and workshop. OASIS talked us through how broad the definition of Psychosis really is, but they broke down that term into a number of factors.

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The presentation looked at how sufferers could get

  • Confusion and changes in thoughts
  • Hallucinations
  • Changes in speech
  • Loss of motivation
  • Feeling like something controlling them
  • Experiencing upsetting thoughts
  • Paranoid thoughts and ideas
  • Deterioration in physical health
  • and a lot more.

This is not to say those who experience psychosis had all of the symptoms, but they are common among those affected by psychosis.

The presentation moved on to explaining the Early warning signs. This part of the presentation was so vital for carers as not all carers are alert to when someone if beginning to relapse or fall unwell.

Some of the signs were.

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Anger
  • Mood swings
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Appetite changes
  • Memory and concentration problems
  • Withdrawal

Again, its not like the person experience all the signs, but maybe some occur when the person becomes unwell. These early signs then eventually change to more difficult experiences shown below

  • Changes in perception – seeing/hearing things
  • Paranoid or suspicious thoughts
  • Unusual thoughts
  • High sense of threat
  • Change in behaviour and functioning

So eventually the above then leads to full blown psychosis. I was amazed how well the group explained things so easy and I wished more members turned up to view the talk.

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It was not always talking to the forum, we also did some fun quizzes to test our knowledge. Then we heard from the service user experiences. There was many thought provoking questions from the forum members which centered on cultural awareness and understand, but I still feel that the BAME community must also make steps to engage with services and not wait till someone becomes so unwell that they is no choice but to provide MH care.

No one likes things being done to them, so there must be some focus on what services we can use before we get into a situation where services are forced on us.

More information on OASIS can be found from their website which is https://www.meandmymind.nhs.uk/

I have decided to advertise the event off eventbrite as well as getting support from SLaM to place up posters on their wards and out in the community. I cannot thank SLaM enough for being very supportive of the forum and continuing to engage with the BAME community.

For those who may not know, the Oxleas, SLaM and SWLSTG Mental Health trusts are working heavily with the community to update what they are doing for their BAME staff. I am glad the services is using this forum to engage with the community since diverse communities often query about staff and not always the service themselves.

To book for March forum, the link is below.

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/lewisham-bame-mental-health-carers-forum-tickets-6270105053

This concludes the update for the February Lewisham BAME MH carers forum