Welcome to the July update of the Lewisham BAME mental health carer forum. I’ve been doing this forum for many years now. As a reminder I run carer forums aimed at carers who are looking after those with mental health needs challenges or mental illness.
These forums are just a way for carers and families to get educated in regards to mental health services, or local author services. This forum is specifically aimed at those from the BAME community, the other carer forum I do is just more general mental health carers.
The BAM community have two specific set of issues Hence, the patients may end up using community servies, you know, high secure mental services. So that was the aim to sort of get them to have have an idea about the services created them, see what’s working see what isn’t working. For the July Lewisham BAME ME carer forum we have the Care Quality Comission (CQC) attending, plus regular carer members, along with Oxleas’s Community Development Service Manager and BAME Staff Network Chair. We also had in attendance SLaM’s peer support project lead and Damien Larkin who is a nurse who works at South London & Maudsley developing BETH the online patient health recording system.
The forum was also joined by Bromley, Lewisham and Greenwich mind Peer Project lead who offers support coaching up to £250 funding or people to set up peer support groups in their community. This is to help peers around mental health and well being, especially during this period of lockdown, but also beyond supporting people within the community around their well being and mental health.
Lastly the forum was also joined by Abby who works for lesbian refugee migrant network. They are one of the partners in the community well being service she is also the Community Engagement Manager delivering culturally mental health services.
Although the forum covers mainly Lewisham, we welcomed a member interested in BAME mental health groups and she is a Mental Health well being practitioner who also provides low level mental health support for children/young people under the ages of 25, vulnerable people going back into employment and business startups wanting mental health support.
To kick off the forum the CQC spoke about their role and answered questions. I invited the CQC down because I wanted carers and patients to develop more of a relationship with the CQC rather than the CQC engaging with users of services when inspections of services arises.
Natalie Austin Parsons who works at the CQC meaning Care Quality Commission as an inspection manager spoke first as 2 CQC staff were present. Natalie was handed the role of engaging the forum because the previous CQC staff member Emma Mcfarlene only works in the directorate of adult social care, so they would inspect residential services for MH/LD/autism as well as nursing and residential homes and domiciliary care agencies. Emma suggested Natalie engage with us since Natalie works in the hospitals directorate who inspect in-patient and outpatient mental health services
Natalie was also joined by Susan Shamash who I have known for many year, were Susan attended my Lambeth Mental Health carers forum when they last inspected South London & Maudsley.
Natalie was kind enough to answer the previous queries I sent her before presenting to the forum.
The first question was on how does how does the CDC engage with slam? And how does it inspect and slam so
Basically they have a named inspector within the London mental health team. Plus they have a named inspection manager within the same team, that being herself. So we meet with senior staff within the trust regularly throughout the year, every two to three months. Face to face it was before COVID they generally would have those meetings at about 2 and or 1 and a half hours. The CQC would talk about previous action plans. So when the CQC came last time, they asked SLaM to improve this.
The CQC also get any kind of information or intelligence from absolutely anyone in the public who contacted them and if the CQC are concerned they will contact them immediately over email or phone.
The CQC use such information to see what’s going well, what are SLaM celebrating at the moment? What are SLaM working on that they they feel really proud of. And that’s really important to remember that there’s lots of things that could be improved in every trust, but there are also things that they’re doing a great and that’s how often the CQC tend to meet them face to face.
The CQC usually have contact with SLaM’s the director of nursing and director of quality. It’s only half an hour meeting every those every two weeks, but there’s a lot of turning in for information.
The CQC also have focus groups throughout the year if there particular errors or teams that the CQC haven’t heard from them for a while, or they want to hear what their improvements are while they’re doing well. The CQC will invite them to attend, but it can be really tricky, as Mental Health staff are really busy and realistically, who wants to go to a CQC focus group sometimes that’s not everyone’s first choice activity.
There will be some changes in how the CQC inspects SLaM due to a change in methodology. The CQC used to do a lot of engagement just prior to an inspection period, but now we’re looking at trying to spread that across the year rather than all in one concentrated amount.
The CQC respond to the first set of questions from Carer members
The CQC gave the forum space to question them about their first response to my query. A carer member noticed a criteria that caused problems due to getting access to mental health services. The carer felt it meant that less people are getting services. Therefore, you could argue you’re going to get a better output because you’re dealing with a small amount of people getting access via MH service from their GP, which could lead to a false economy of patients quality of service within the mental health trust.
The CQC acknowledged the concern and stated it was a really important point. The CQC are always open and welcoming to any ideas. on how do you think that the CQC could do to help services improve.
The carer suggested sampling on how many people that got rejected for mental health services against those that was accepted. So to see within those within that range who they are, and then do a comparison, and see if there’s any within those samples of rejection and actually had similar cases.
The CQC noted that it was outside of what they would do for an inspection, however they are to happy to feed that back into their colleagues that go into GPS because the ones at this forum inspect mental health trusts only. This was a very important development as the forum is examining how GPs engage with mental health carers, especially if GPs are the first port of call for patients or carers during a mental health crisis.
Another question from a carer was about when the CQC come to South London & Maudsley how do they look for equality and diversity regarding carers? Because the carer has never seen you when the CQC show that in their report. The carer wanted to know if there is anything regarding carers, The carer also asked about queried that there’s never anything regarding carers or support on it. So how do you they show the quality regarding carers. This question was interesting since a mental health carer policy the Triangle of Care wanted the CQC to acredit such inspections regarding services to carers.
Again the CQC admitted that it doesn’t often come through in the reports very much even in the narrative. This is not only in slam but all the other mental health trusts, which the CQC will go away and report that to their team. The carer was also concerned about measurements of stigma and concluded that when it comes to mental health people have got stigma, especially the BAME community. If the BAME community can’t see anything from the CQCs report then they feel that you’re not interested. How can you be supporting us? If you’re not showing what you’re doing for us?
The third question from another carer member was a suggestion mentioning with regards to doing some measurements. Could the CQC not start with an existing data? Are they looking at historic data or working from the bottom as a starting point?
The CQC responded that this is something that they would do. The way they probably go about this is to have the mental health trust to do this. The CQC would ask the trust if they have the data? And if they don’t have the data, why do they not have the data? How do they analyze the data? And what are they doing with it? Have they made actions realizing that they could or couldn’t be doing something better? So certainly there’s work that the trust will have data that they can use to analyze this, but there may well be other areas that they could collect it.
The CQC present on my second query
The CQC responded to the forums questions and moved on the my second query I raised with them before they engaged with my BAME carer forum. The second query was on “How does the CQC engage with patients and carers during an inspection of a trust?”
The CQC presented that as standard when they come and visit a trust as large as slam, they divide services that it provides into something that the CQC would call core services. So examples would be adult inpatient wards. And slam have a number of those adult community mental health services, children, community mental health services, and substance misuse services if a trust provided. So those are examples would be wide across borders, and across all trust, and then the CQC write a final report for the core services.
There can be some difficulty if you are wanting to find out about a specific Ward or a specific team, and it can get quite lost in a report sometimes. if the CQC finds one Ward, or team that is doing particularly well or bad, then they will write about that in the report. But generally, across the trust this team, this type of service is doing well in this area or it could be improved in this area and then if the CQC need an improvement, they put it across the whole Trust.
Later on they inspect the trust about that improvement and in the report, the CQC have the five questions. So is it safe? Is it effective? Is it caring? Is it responsive and is it well led.
Experts by Experience
When the CQC come in with a team of inspectors, they are joined by professional advisors, who are currently working in that in that type of service in another range of interest. The CQC come in with experts by experience who have used that type of service themselves. The CQC do have people who are carers and who come in as the expert by experience as someone who is cared for a loved one with a mental health difficulty. Unfortunately the CQC don’t have many carers, the CQC have more people who have personal experience and the CQC would always welcome many more carriers to join that process as an expert by experience.
When the CQC come in they interview staff, they look at case records, they look at the environment, they interview service users. And the CQC do try to interview carers.
The CQC admitted that they think this is where they could do a lot better. The CQC request the contact details and the consent to be contacted by them through the trust, which the CQC think can be one of the barriers, they can’t just request a list of everyone’s names connected to services and then call them out of the blue. And so so that makes it a bit a bit trickier. Obviously, not everyone wants to speak to the CQC as well. Not everyone knows who the CQC are what they do. And that that again can be a barrier. The CQC collect all of that evidence and they make a judgement about specific things, you know, medicines appropriate training. So, that’s kind of an overview of how they do an inspection.
Inspection during COVID
Because of the COVID situation, the CQC are adapting the way they work at the moment. So they actually will give them longer time to spend talking to carers and people using services by telephone or maybe conferencing software.
The CQC then paused the presentation to give carer members a chance to raise questions on that subject. I won’t go into too much details about the questions, but they were very good regarding
1. How the CQC can gather patients and carers to hear abour services.
2. The problem of BAME carers worried about COVID-19 and how this will be captured in reports
3. More questions regarding sampling and data.
The CQC then presented on how well SLaM had performed during the last inspection and also responded on how well Oxleas has performed since Oxleas usually attend this BAME forum at times.
SLaM Peer Support lead presents
Next up we have the Peer support lead for the trust present on her role. Her focus at the moment is around making sure that we get more peer workers, working people, workers or people who have lived experience of mental health. And they are trying to make sure that we get peer workers working in all different departments of SLaM. This is so they can offer the lived experience and support people in navigating through the mental health service and navigating their way through recovery.
SLaM have is what she mentions is a values based measurement, which means that they train peer workers to work to a set of values. Those values are the value of lived experience, developing safe and trusting relationships and strength based approach, anti racist, anti oppressive practice.
Training Peer workers
The peer lead continued that they train people and they do an eight week accredited training. They want to train people who have lived experience of mental health and who have used services. It’s really important to say that just because someone’s got lived experience, that doesn’t mean that they’re going to be good peer workers, you need experience to be a peer worker, and for having lived experience doesn’t make you a worker looking for loads of skills and qualities as well including communication, kindness, and the team working at able to support people with certain kind of recovery.
So what SLaM are looking at is a quite a wide skill set, so SLaM train people for eight weeks and then after that, they are working with teams to see where SLaM can have vacancies. At the moment, a lot of her work is trying to to transform their vacancies into pure workarounds. So maybe they’ve got a vacancy for a support worker, and see if we can transfer them to that team.
Carer members raise queries
There was a large number of questions from carer members one was on what support was given to Peer workers in such a demanding role. This being clinical supervision or regular support, support from line managers, etc, because there may be the sharing of quite challenging information
The peer support lead responded that peers get the same support as any member of staff and will have regular supervision with a line manager. Access, reflective practice, team meetings, whatever it is anyone else can do, but will also be put in regular supervisions that will be facilitated by someone who’s had experience of using their lived experience in the workplace, and which SLaM will ask all our new workers to do.
I also raised a query on why there is either a lack of carer peer supports or none at all, especially if service users get the majority of peer workers, peer befrienders, peer supporters. Carers are also using services, so where are all the peers?
It was noted by the peer lead that it has to be an evidence based initiative. So we need to have the evidence before they can start rolling it out. And at the moment, SLaM has evidence in regard to people with lived experience. So we know there’s loads of informal peer support that goes on for carers and meetings like this, but also just people getting to know one another. In her view, there probably will be. And I can’t imagine why wouldn’t work, with peers is supporting one another. Unfortunately at the moment it doesn’t look like SLaM going to follow that path.
Oxleas responded that they have a different view of carer peer workers than SLaM. Oxleas also have lived experienced practitioners who work in the trust and they have trained, experienced practitioners who have been carers, so they have broadened it so that includes anyone and the way that the roles and then people are employed as members of staff. their lived experience is an added extra. So you might be working in the board or in the health care system, but you are there with your lived experience, whether you’re a carer or a service user, and then that is the extra that you add to the role. Oxleas disagreed that carers were seperated from peer evidence based because how can NHS staff even begin to relate to carers?
There was a big discussion on the nature of peer support and on the peer support projects especially on the peer project regarding peer workers being placed in the Emergency department of Guys and St Thomas’s hospital.
There was also a very good question from another carer member regarding peer support and someone in a crisis, I think it went like this. As in terms of peer support, it’s relatively more needed when, when there’s a crisis, when a patient presents to an acute Ward, and this may be their first very first experience of the loved one, and experiencing mental health, rightly or wrongly, whatever the case may be, that is where that peer supporter is needed.
Plus we had several questions regarding if the involvement register was some form of peer support or if peer support was utilised across the involvement register.
The peer support lead did note that there is a problem on the way that the service works and particularly mental health services is that it’s not a very holistic approach. So one of the questions will be that the services not providing care for carers because that’s not their role. The MH services role is to provide care for service users. The problem is this, we know that if you support caregivers, then that’s going to have a beneficial impact on everyone including the service users. She admitted there needs to be a continued challenging of culture on how peer support works. It was mentioned to approach researchers regarding peer support at Kings college, but the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience was also mentioned.
The discussion went on for some time, but I think I have made this a very long blog post. This is the July’s update for the Lewisham BAME MH carers forum.