Welcome to the May update of my Lewisham BAME mental health carers forum. This is one of my 5 carer groups that focuses on the experiences of BAME carers and sometimes BAME groups suffering mental ill health. I usually run this forum from the Lewisham Branch of Bromley, Lewisham & Greenwich MIND. Due to CoronaVirus I have moved the forum online via ZOOM.
As a reminder the forum is not a support group, but a way to connect to health providers in the community. The forums focus is of course on mental health services so our local mental health trust (South London and Maudsley) engages with BAME families and carers at the forum.
For the attendees for May, we were joined by our regular carer members with even those not from a BAME backgroud more than welcome to attend. We also had in attendance our MH NHS Trust Equality and diversity lead Macius Kurowski. We were also joined by those who attend the Lewisham BAME Network, plus Oxleas staff attended to get some knowledge of what BAME carers tend to query about how MH services is affecting them. Also in attendance was a staff member from Greenwich Carers as I have been running BAME carer support group in Greenwich.
We were also joined by Leonie Down who leads on Occupational Therapy at SLaM in Lewisham. She runs the SLaM Community links forum in Lewisham where organisations/voluntary sector come together to exchange ideas on mental health. The forum was also joined by an expert by experience from South West London & St George NHS Trust who has now become a peer lead over there at the trust. Lastly in attendance was the public health representative from Lewisham council.
The Lewisham BAME carer forum members hoped one of our MPs would be in attendance, but she could not make it and is hoping to try again in June. So the majority of the forum was the SLaM NHS Equality lead updating members on the following.
General updates on the trust regarding covid policies for BAME staff.
Updates on engagement with BAME communities and anything on BAME carers.
Challenges to the trust equality plans due to covid.
Macius was not able to update on all queries since he is not involved on front line services or some policies, but he mentioned at least general updates the forum was interested in. As usual carers queried the following.
– The accuracy of data regarding BAME Families and carers especially on the trust patient EPJS system. BAME members are interested in the number of BAME carers in the borough where their loved ones are using MH services.
– Querying how the trust is linking the Care Act to carers especially during the COVID-19 crisis, however Macius did mention forums like these were critical in working together with the trust.
– Other questions were on access to IAPTs (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) although the response was that SLaM is not fully involved in that service and it was mentioned IAPTs own patient system is different so its not understood how IAPTs records carers. Macius will follow up on the query and feedback.
– More queries were raised on IAPTs regarding waiting times, but also checking with SLaM the definition of a carer. Mainly because forum members worry carers are being missed, especially BAME carers in regards to equality. Some references were on NICE (National Institute on Clinical Excellence).
– We also had a member wanting more clarification on if SLaM will work towards using BAME therapists to relate to the BAME community. A brief update was to include GPs in that discussion because they are also a main source of refferals. Macius is looking to come back after July to feedback updates on SLaM’s progress on equality however the OT lead in Lewisham is also happy to update regarding who the forum can link into June.
Oxleas also gave some feedback on their progress regarding Equality and diverity and mentioned that Karen Edmunds Head of Equality and Human Rights at NHS Oxleas is developing work around queries members were raising. The forum is interested how Oxleas engages on BAME queries possibly around carers, but there might be a different culture regarding Greenwich, Bexley and Bromley.
There was a worry that equality leads are not linked into operations at NHS Trusts, but there should be questions that members in the community can ask. The forum had a very relaxed discussion on experiences of how carers can calm a mental health crisis especially if their loved ones were discharged and are now at home because of COVID-19 social distancing.
Other Forum Updates
More discussions were centered on the importance of qualifications and how the mental health services can make use of Experts by Experience, this discussion was brought up due to a carer querying their identity. There seems to be an agreement that we must make carers feel valued in what they do. This led to me raising the importance of Carers Week 2020, which will be a great springboard on valuing carers.
I also gave updates on SLaM’s virtual forum survey because of the COVID-19 situation, there needs to be a way of gathering feedback to develop and strengthen use of virtual platforms. Its especially important to reduce isolation and increase involving carers with their loved ones on the wards. The survey is also asking for staff feedback in case there is scope for training or extra ideas.
I feedback the SLaM summit meeting taking place and they have just release a feedback survey which I have added below.
For more information about the South London & Maudsley SUMMIT, please click below.
I also urged members to read up on SLaM’s members bulitin as I do with all my carer forums if SLaM release trust member news. I also ask carers to try sign up and be a member of the trust because at least you get a greater say on what is going on at the NHS Trust.
Lisa Fannon who is the Public Health Strategists London Borough of Lewisham updated us on what the borough has planned for Carers Week. As with Southwark and Lambeth carer forums I will get an update from them in June from the MP Helen Hayes and members of Southwark council and Lambeth MH champion. I think Lisa will be back in June to update carers on how things went in Lewisham. Lisa mentioned the staff support helpline regarding mental health and is happy to help us promote any activities we have planned for Carers week at the borough. Lastly Lewisham is working on a project with Birmingham looking at the health inequalities of the BAME community especially during the COVID-19 situation.
This concludes the Lewisham BAME MH carer forum for May. To book for future forums please click below especially if you are a carer from those London boroughs.
Our June forum will be attendee by Lewisham MH service director and my MP along with Healthwatch Lewisham.