Southwark MH Carers forum April 2020

matthewWelcome to the April update of the Southwark Mental Health Carers forum. Just a short intro about the forum. The forum is aimed at carers who care for someone with a mental illness. I obviously try to aim the forum at carers based in Southwark, but we often ask for engagement with MH, health services, commissioners and social services.

All my carer forums including carer peer support groups are run via Zoom due to the COVID-19 crisis.

For the April forum we were joined by carers from Lambeth who are interested to hear more about the Lambeth hospital consultation. Members of the forum also wanted to submit queries and questions regarding the hospital move. The forum was also joined by South London & Maudsley’s Quality improvement peer supporter Richard Morton who kindly networked with carers at the forum.

We were also joined by a rep with lived experience from Healthwatch Southwark who have taken a keen interest with the carer forums since the forums are usually designed to engage with health services. Alice has taken over from Bron who engaged with the Southwark carers forum in the past.

The forum also was attended by a representative from PohWER who are one of the largest providers of advocacy services in the UK.  They provide information, advice, support and advocacy to people who experience mental ill health. We also had SLaM’s carer lead for southwark inpatient wards, southwark carer peer  facilitator and advisor and also a trustee from Southwark Carers along with carers from Lambeth and also Southwark.

First we had an update concerning the mental health patient wards in Southwark from the Southwark carer inpatient lead.  It was noted that some wards are being used by patients infected with COVID-19.  No training can be carried out during this phase, but carer peer support groups are running weekly instead of monthly.  I queried about other carer groups running in the community and by Southwark Council.

Emma Crowe the director of the London communications agency along with collegue Matthew spoke to the joint forum about the consultation of Lambeth hospital. Members of the carers forum were taken through a presentation used by the scrtuny committees.

We where shown the following

1. Why Lambeth Hospital has been around a very long time, some of its wards are not sufficient for MH patients and visiting family members.
2. We were given a virtual tour of the proposed hospital site in Southwark.
3. An explanation and discussion of the new Douglas Bennett House
4. The consultation plan and consultation progress along with timeframes

Notable key issues with the Lambeth hospital wards are

  • Current structural design of the buildings are deemed not safe as they should be for treating MH patients.
  • Most bedrooms do not have their own en-suite bathrooms and there are not enough bathroom facilities.
  • Lines of sight for staff looking after patients are rather poor in order to keep service users safe.
  • A poor quality of working environment for staff
  • Out off all the Lambeth hospital wards, only one ward has unsupervised access to an outdoor area and fresh air.
  • The environment at Lambeth Hospital is very cramped for service users and staff.

The Proposed New Facility

I will mention some of the consultation presentation at April’s Southwark Carers forum. Some points of the proposed new facility looked at


How clinicians, service users and carers from a number of boroughs attended workshops to help shape the design of the Douglas Bennett House facility on the Maudsley Hospital site.

  • The facility would include 72 acute beds for Lambeth patients across four 18 bedded wards.
  • The wards would all be single gender, compliant with modern standards, be light and naturally ventilated with direct, unsupervised, access to outside space.
  • The facility would also include a Psychiatric intensive Care unit and a rehabilitation ward designed to support needs of these services.
  • Two national specialist wards, neuropsychaitry and eating disorders, would be transferred from Bethlem Hospital.

These are obviously just some of the benefits of the proposed facility, although there were plenty of chances for carer members to query about the proposed changes. In regards to the consultation (which runs from March 2020 to 31 May 2020), SLaM have already received a number of responses.

Still the consultation will use a large range of media services to engage with the community from Printed consultation documents, posters, online questionnaires, letter and email to working with partners to distribute information.

The SLaM consultation team were polite and thankful for engaging with the forum and I suspect they will be back later on during the Year.

Next up was Richard Morton who is in SLaM’s quality Improvement role looking to network and engage carers on involvement routes at the Mental Health trust. Richard spoke about the range of committees at the trust some of them mentioned was the family and carer committee and the quality improvement committee along with borough advisory groups.

Even though some involvement groups have been suspended due to the covid-19 situation, others have started to use video conferencing to still engage with Service users and carers.


The Southwark MH carer forum was taken through the “Inpatient care process model” on how patients are supported by SLaM through their care journey. This was kindly provided to the forum by the Southwark carer lead for inpatient wards.

Richard Morton will be back engaging carers at the forum in the future as he will update on how involvement at the trust is progressing.

This concludes the April update for the Southwark MH Carers forum.