Staff from King’s College London university are doing research about
short stays in care homes (“residential respite”).
If you support someone with dementia or memory problems (are a
“carer”), you may be able to help.
Staff from King’s College London university are doing research about
short stays in care homes (“residential respite”).
If you support someone with dementia or memory problems (are a
“carer”), you may be able to help.
Welcome to my blog site that focuses on mental health carers. What I mean by that is the site raises awareness of carers who are caring for someone suffering mental ill health.
For Carers Rights day 2020. I decided to do a blog post to keep that awareness going. The first website I visited was CarersUK website on Carers Rights day. What I found was really interesting.
Did you know that research released for Carers Rights Day 2020 reveals unpaid carers save UK state £530 million every day of the pandemic?
If you want to see the video version of this blog post then see the video below.
Although this blog post is a little late for carers rights day, I felt that the event was just too important to miss and I wanted to have my say for carers rights day 2020.
If you already know me, then you know that I am a strong advocator for carers rights.
If you do not know me, then let me introduce myself. My name is Matthew Mckenzie from the borough of Lewisham and I have a blogsite, video channel, carers newsletter, podcasts and now event a book.
I also have a strong social media presence where I advertise my carer’s groups, which has been going many years now. The things that have inspired me to do all the above has been down to caring for my mother who suffered mental illness close to 18 years, but during that time I have worked hard to engage with carers and mental health systems.
Back to carer’s rights day 2020. It is one of the special events that focuses on carers doing the hard work of caring for a loved one either in the family, as a friend or neighbour.
The theme for carers rights day is “Know your rights“. On carer’s rights day, I did a talk at my local carers centre regarding carer’s rights.
Below is a list carers should take note of when pursuing their carer’s rights. If you want to know more in-depth details about Carers Rights, then please watch my video.
Ability to access and improve care for the ‘cared for’ in day-to-day life
Domestic, family, and personal relationships
Carer recognition/support in work, education, training or recreation
Personal dignity (including treatment of the carer with respect)
Physical and mental health & emotional well-being
Protection from abuse & neglect
Social & economic well-being
Suitability of living accommodation
The individual’s contribution to society.
Researcher Emilie Wildman is now conducting research into exploring the experiences of informal carers of adults living with mental health problems, who have experienced violence from the person they care for.
If you are a carer who has experienced this and is interested in getting involved please see the poster below.
You can contact the researcher on the following details.
Researcher: Emilie Wildman
Tel: 07737 714 873
Here is the brief update of the October Joint Southwark & Lambeth Mental Health carer forum. This is one of the five carer groups that I run per month. The carer forum is an engagement & empowerment group for carers to learn more about mental health services and at least query what is on offer.
SOUTHWARK HEALTHWATCH UPDATE
As usualy the group is supported by the local mental health trust South London & Maudsley, we also had southwark healthwatch in attendance as well as both Southwark Carers and also Lambeth Carers. Lastly both the engagement leads of Lambeth & Southwark CCG were to be in attendance, although only Southwark CCG could make it, due to Zoom blocking Lambeth CCG. It must be noted that the 6 CCGs are now merged into NHS southeast London clinical commissioning group, so its not always clear who is from what (more on that later).
The forum was co-chaired by carers Ann Morgan (Lambeth) and Annette Davis (Southwark). Our first update was from Southwark Healthwatch who are interested in the experience of those waiting for hospital treatments, like for surgery or chemotherapy, anything in a hospital. Southwark Healthwatch are doing that through phone interviews or online chats in a group, whichever people feel the most comfortable with. They just want to hear from as many people about how waiting times in hospital has impacted them, and what could be improved. Southwark Healthwatch are also interested in how the waiting times affect mental health and I suspect on how badly covid-19 is affecting waiting times in hospitals.
Members are very interested to see the outcome on feedback from Kings Hospital trust and Guys & St Thomas hospital trust on waiting times.
LAMBETH CARERS UPDATE
Ann morgan then introduce Josh Simpkins from Carers Hub Lambeth to talk more about the Lambeth Carers Card, which came from the Lambeth carer’s strategy. Josh mentioned that they made a recording of the launch, which is on their website, YouTube channel and facebook. Although at the joint forum he was going to do a bit of an introduction and background on the scheme itself.
The card scheme itself helps with emergency planning for carers, which is especially prevalent today due to the covid-19 situation. Josh also talked about how the schemes template on how a carer can use the template as a process to quickly make use of resources if the usual carer resources were unaccessible.
Josh talked more about the carer’s strategy, but members are hoping to hear from Polly on any developments for carers in Lambeth. There is still a hint of jelously from myself as I feel Lewisham has a way to catch up in regards to a carers strategy, what impressed me futher is the strategy is taking shape even during covid-19 as the Lambeth carers care helps protect against dwindling resources. A governor at the forum actually asked if the card was either Southwark and or Lewisham, but unfortunately its only for carers in Lambeth. We can only hope the other boroughs can emulate the successes for carers in Lambeth.
Ann Morgan queried if there will be a card for young carers, which was an excellent question since young carers can be forgotten when it comes to developments and projects. I personally think due to the lack of young carer empowerment groups, its harder for young carers to get a voice, so its often older carers who may try and speak up for young carers. Josh from Lambeth carers hub mentioned they were brain storming ideas to help young carers in Lambeth and so we should watch this space.
Josh did mention another thing regarding young carers is that when he went in with, with his colleagues into Lambeth schools. They found that young carers wanted space to get away from their peers and connect with other young carers in a different space, rather than just the other pupils in the school. There was more to this than connection purposes, but it certainly was a start on the needs of young carers. Josh mentioned there certainly was discrimination on young carers at school, which many at the joint forum were aware of.
It was also mentioned from the Southwark Carers inpatient lead that what strikes them is that the carers card links everything together. Although there will be times when obviously, the carer is overloaded and might not know where to look, but its really impressive as the Lambeth carers card puts everything together. He hopes we could do something similar in southwark because he feels there are lots of pockets where carers cannot find resources, so it would be great to get everything under one avenue.
SOUTHWARK CCG – South East London Clinical Commissioning Group UPDATE
Next we had Bola Olatunde from the Southwark CCG group engage with carers on how they were working to support mental health and carers in the 2 boroughs. Bola first explained that there is no Southwark CCG anymore. They became NHS SE London CCG from the 1st of April 2020. So they were Southwark CCG up until the 31st of March, then six independent CCGs came together and then joined as one NHS southeast London CCG from the first of April. Those were Southwark CCG, Lambeth CCG, Lewisham CCG, Greenwich CCG, Bromley CCG and Bexley CCG. As of the summer, the South East London Clinical Commissioning Group has been heavily supporting the carers groups since I am active in Lewisham, Greenwich, Southwark & Lambeth, although there are plans to expand BAME carers in boroughs I am not active in, depends on my time.
Bola explained the to carer forum that they are now borough teams, but we don’t have six CCGs anymore. So they are the southeast London CCG. Bola was here to just to let us know that the team is still here and if any updates or developments are taking place then they will seek to engage with us. Bola posted some information in the chat box of ZOOM to raise awareness for the flu vaccination if people are eligible and to to remind them to book their appointments with a GP practice or local pharmacy.
There were a lot of questions from the group members on the nature of the new CCG structure and who does what within the new development.
SOUTHWARK CARERS UPDATE
We had an update from Mary Jacob who is the chair of trustees from Southwark Carers and also a carer, she updated the joint Southwark & Lambeth carers forum on what Southwark Carers is doing. Mary mentioned that at the moment, Southwark Carers at looking at their premises and how they are going to continue giving the best services that they can under the restricted funding they are having. Southwark carers still need to get confirmation with Southwark about how much funding they are to receive and when they are going to be funded till.
Southwark carers are at least very grateful for the support they are getting so far. Currently Southwark carers are continuing with their services to all ranges of carers in the borough. Southwark carers are in partnership with a fair shares Co-Op, so they are still providing food parcels to the carers who win the most who are in the most need. Southwark carers are also still providing online activities, including exercise classes, salsa classes and also a film club. The last film that was shown during Black History Month, was the film Black Panther. The Film Club not only provides the film a source of entertainment and social contact for carers.
They are also going to continue with their cultural events right the way through the year, not just in October, they have a program of events that’s now being finalized, including sharing different recipes from different countries and different festivals including celebrating Diwali, celebrating Hanukkah, celebrating all the different cultural festivals.
Southwark carers are also going to have mindfulness classes online and they are looking at how to reach carers that may be find it difficult to get onto zoom.
Another Southwark Carer trustee present at the Joint Southwark & Lambeth forum mentioned that lots of carers aren’t IT proficient and it is documented that carers are to face real challenges in regards to finding time for self care.
So with self care being much of a priority and looking at the 360 overview of carers responsibilities, southwark carers are having to look at how they are revising their service to actually be more accessible in light of covid-19.
UPDATE FROM SOUTHWARK INPATIENT CARERS LEAD
We then had an update from David Meyrick the inpatient ward carer lead for Southwark under South London & Maudsley. Currently he mentioned they have taken steps regarding wards and have revisiting them such distance measures. They have found that there was different arrangements across the wards that were visited and they were just concerned that might be a little bit inconsistent, especially if you had a loved one readmitted and found it difficult to visit the ward. So SLaM have taken the steps forwards across the five wards that obviously needs to be booked in this way, it makes things a lot safer. So the staff can facilitate two visits a time but in the same bubble, is keep it safe that way. David thinks it’s been working well, so far.
David is aware that some inpatient wards are reluctant to do this, because its not always possible to just spontaneously support the patient and the visitor. however he feels it’s just in the best interest of all. So crisis support is working well. Plus they have set up virtual cave surgeries towards information provision, inside work, and, and running cameras to support carers and patients. They have a monthly, a weekly support group that runs and I’m sure and that’s providing emotional support and peer support that carers need.
Annette co-chair of the joint forum and carer herself mentioned that since she started working with David carers attend the group regularly every week. Annette felt she can actually see the difference and what the most significant things for carers is they want to be heard.
UPDATE FROM LAMBETH HEALTHWATCH
Lastly we had an update from Lambeth Healthwatch in what they have been doing since the last meeting.
Mental health of young people
Transition of young people with mental health needs and learning disability. We are looking into the transition pathway for three cohorts of young people: young people known to Children and Adolescents Mental Health Services (CAMHS); young people who have complex needs known to SEN team; and young people who have social and emotional issues not meeting the criteria for secondary care or not accessing service. We will interview young people, their carers/parents, and health and social care professionals. We will also hold focus group discussions with different groups of young people.
Young people’s mental health and emotional wellbeing needs assessemnt – We are in the task and finish group of Lambeth Made. The group will investigate and analyse mental health needs of young people in Lambeth. This assessment will go beyond reviewing existing need but will also look at the protective and risk factors that influence mental health, modelled on a life course approach from maternity through to young adulthood. The findings of this assessment will feed into an overarching strategy to transform the offer of mental health and emotional wellbeing support we provide to CYP and their families; focusing on promotion and prevention, right through to specialist provision, seeking to uncover and address any unmet need. This needs assessment will replace the joint needs assessment carried out by Lambeth and Southwark Public Health Team in 2013/14 and will be informed by The Young Lambeth Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health Strategy and Plan 2015-20.
Campaigns regarding world mental health day
Lambeth Healthwatch hosted an event to mark World Mental Health Day 2020 on 7th October which was well attended. They will be hosting more of these regular online events which are open for anyone to attend.
There will be a Webinar next week on Wednesday 4th to mark National Stress Awareness Day.
I asked if they was any updates from Lambeth HW MH lead.
Lambeth Healthwatch responded that there is ongoing work with Lambeth Hospital to support staff and service users with the move to DBH. Planning some remote engagement sessions in November. The sessions will be aimed at understanding the views of hospital staff and service users on the development of Lambeth Hospital.
Lambeth Healthwatch are also involved in several projects looking at maternal mental health and the impact of Covid pandemic. In particular, they are working with King’s College Hospital and partners from different organisations to access women who are expecting or have given birth during the pandemic.
Lambeth Healthwatch are supporting the Adults Safeguarding Board in planning a workshop to mark Adult Safeguarding Week 2020 on 19th November 2020. The event’s theme is Safeguarding in our Community and will explore how we assess safeguarding issues in a digital world.
The last update from Lambeth Healthwatch is that they are supporting the Care Quality Commission to promote its campaign. They will interview six service users (2 people with learning disability, 2 older people, and 2 carers) from which they will write case studies and record a short video of each service user’s experience. They will also ascertain the success of the campaign after publishing the videos.
This is the October update from my Joint Southwark & Lambeth MH carers forum. If you are caring for someone with mental ill health in Lambeth or Southwark, check out the next dates of this carer forum at the following page.
Welcome to the October edition of the Lewisham BAME Mental Health carer forum. Its a bit of a mouthful of a forum, but this is the only BAME carer forum I have out of the other 5 carer groups I run.
For the October carer forum, Carers UK were kind enough to lend their Policy and Public Affairs person to the group. Ruby Peacock presented on what Carers UK have been doing for carers up till the coronavirus situation. We were also joined by Dr Siobhan O’Dwyer who is a Senior Lecturer in Ageing & Family Care at the University of Exeter. Dr Siobhan was joined by Artist Leo Jamelli who is working with Dr Siobhan to raise the profile of carers using art. More on that later.
For the forum we were joined by the usual carer members and some newer members, also in attendance was Debora Mo who is Greenwich CCG engagement lead. We were also joined by Nathan Lewis the Community Outreach Manager for Samaritans Lewisham, Greenwich & Southwark Branch. In attendance was Sophie the patient engagement officer from Healthwatch Lewisham who was the third and final speaker at the forum. We were also joined by Lisa Fannon who works for Lewisham’s Public Health and is very interested in how health and mental health is affecting Lewisham’s community especially when it comes to poverty. We were also joined by a governor from Guys and St Thomas NHS Trust who engages with residents of Lewisham, Wandsworth, Westiminister, Southwark & Lambeth on health matters.
UPDATE FROM RUBY PEACOCK.
Up first to speak was ruby from Carers UK. If you do not know already CarersUK is a leading national charity fighting on behalf of the 6 million+ unpaid carers. Ruby kindly attended the forum to update members on CarersUK latest intiatives.
One of the projects that CarersUK have run is called “Entitled harmony voices”, which looks at the experiences of BAME Carers. So as a kind of starting point, CarersUK not only examines the situation of carers, but also BAME carers from the 2011 census. Since the census is fairly old, Ruby admitted that some of the numbers she is presenting on is a bit out of date. She is going to try and talk as well about a little bit of the research CarersUK has done during covid-19.
CarersUK did some research for Carers Week this year looking at the number of carers during the pandemic, not only has the number of carers increased more generally in the population, just because of the aging population, but also because our health and social care systems have been underfunded.
Ruby pointed out that there is even more pressure on family carers and how our demographic will generally have changed. There has also been an increase in the number of carers more generally and she estimates to be about 17 % of the population that being 9.4 million people.
She also found 4.5 million people became carers during COVID-19, because there were people who were shielding who weren’t necessarily needing care for. There were also people who had COVID to add to the required care afterwards.
Ruby would estimate rather than the being half a million BAME carers, we would say it was closer to about 1.3 million carers at the moment. And so in terms of kind of what the demographics look like, there is a spread about the amount of carer that people have provided. So for the majority of people whether they are BAME carers or the general carer population are providing kind of zero to 19 hours cqre, there are the lower levels, about 15% of carers provide between 20 and 49 hours of care, and about 21% provide over 60 hours, which is really in significantly higher numbers. Ruby estimated that about 10% of the BAME population are caring around the clock.
Ruby continued that there are a couple of things that we know about the kind of carer population, she was going to talk a little bit about what we know in terms of experienced BAME carers more generally.
Ruby knows that carers are often in financial difficulty. And not only does caring come with additional costs, whether that additional heating costs or fuel because of carers transporting people to places in different ways, but also within the house, and with that paid for services.
CarersUK are also seeing that some services that used to be provided arent provided any more. So in the end the carer and the person being cared for or having are to cover costs out of their own money. This is often confounded by the fact that often juggling work and care can be really difficult. So we know that there’s about 1.2 million people who are caring who are in financial difficulties and we would classify that as inequality. Ruby mentioned that one of their ongoing campaigns is to kind of raise carers allowance, which we think is the lowest benefit as of its time, which she feels is just simply unacceptable in terms of providing that support for carers needs.
Ruby reminded us that carers struggled to juggle, work and care, and they found in research that 600 people a day give up work to provide care. It was mentioned that during the COVID, CarersUK have seen the increases being a real pressure on people being able to manage their caring responsibility alongside local services either stopped, or severely reduced.
There are also a large number of people shielding, and although some carers could access a furlough scheme it led to some really different experiences with their employees about what they were and what they thought what they needed.
Ruby pointed out that carers are often more likely to be lonely and that part of that is because it’s really difficult to talk about your experiences with different people. It can be really difficult to access breaks, which means you don’t have the time to be able to invest in your relationship, plus carers can be in financial difficulties, which means you can’t access the same sorts of activities that the other people can.
Ruby spoke at length of the other difficulties carers were facing, a good point was on the real emotional impact that people were on under in the month of April. One of the things that CarersUK found was that the majority of carers and 60% of BAME carers said they felt like they were reaching a breaking point. She felt that one of the things that it’s really important is that we don’t put people in the same situation they were in April. It was mentioned that not only were people incredibly stressed about caring safety for themselves, and keeping themselves and the person they care for safe, but they were also taking on extraordinary hours and CarersUK think its not possible for people to care for long period of time.
QUESTIONS FROM MEMBERS
One of the members thanked Ruby for her presentation, she felt a lot of it resonates with her personally and she would like to mention a couple of things that definitely impacted her during COVID. The carer member mentioned she was caring at a distance and she was very glad that Ruby mentioned the situations long distance carers face.
The carer mentioned during COVID, the person she is caring for had a fall and that he also went out well. He was taken to the hospital, by ambulance and so on. And because he had also has some underlying health issues, the hospital decided to check him out thoroughly. And lots of appointments were made some early in the morning. Plus the fact that he has a special needs, So she needed to be with him as his carer at the hospital during these appointments, to be able to hear what the consultants are saying to be able to ask questions, to give them his history.
Ruby responded that we don’t think the NHS does enough to recognize the role of carers and we’re also incredibly concerned about the change to government policies on hospital discharge, which dont provide and don’t suggest that there should be a carers assessment as part of the discharge. It is important to know who the family or who else is in the home and who will be providing that care. There is still a long way to go for Acute NHS hospitals who are slow to be carer aware.
Another question was on older adult carers. The carer was concerned that when Ruby sends off information to the government regarding younger carers or adult carers. He feels those carers will get support, but older carers will be left out. He was wondering if carer data was broken down into 3 categories as in younger carers, adult carers and older adult carers. Ruby mentioned CarersUK focuses on adult carers, but young carers tend to be the focus of another national carer charity, that being CarersTrust. I suspect AgeUK might focus more on older adult carers. Ruby also mentioned breaking down the 6 million carers into categories would be a massive task in itself.
Another carer wanted to expand on the issue of completing online surveys. She wanted to talk about access to digital services, and or probably people’s capacity to actually complete forms online. She asked if there something about the care coordinator sitting down and having some way of completing that form on behalf of the individual. Because whereas we used to be sitting in an office, and then somebody can complete it for you. And that was fine. but we’re now in this digital new way of working, not everybody has access to being on zoom, not everybody has access to the internet and not everybody has access to be able to print an application or form of an insult
Another member raised the point that the problem that is facing their NHS trust is that because the black and Asian people are so used to the inequalities within the services. They’re not even interested in filling out the forms to be quite honest. So we now need to find a way where there is less talking and more action.
Another carer gave an example of her experience as a long distance carer, while another carer member felt BAME people were being put in a box, but not categorised enough from being different from service users. There was still a lack and understanding of the needs of BAME carers.
With that I thanked Ruby for her time and thanked her for representing caresUK and coming to engage with BAME carers. I mentioned that I hoped that we can hear from CarersUK in the new year and continue relations with the good work CarersUK does in advocating and raising the carers agenda.
NEW PROJECT FROM EXETER UNIVERSITY – Dr Siobhan O’Dwyer presents
Dr Sioban wanted to talk about what they did around hearing from carers experience of COVID. They had a group of carers who they gathered right at the beginning of lockdown and they interviewed them every week for 12 weeks. So every week between April and June they heard about carers experiences. They are also going to go back in January as part of that research and that they have working really closely with different government departments, including the department of health and social care, department of Work and Pensions, public health England, CarersUK and also The House of Lords.
Dr Sioban wants to put together a briefing to each of those government departments and the various charities so that they have that information. They felt they done quite well with that project in terms of helping policy makers and and charities and local authorities understand the experiences of carers.
What she feels she hasn’t done too well is to actually engage the community and help the community see what a brilliant job carers have been doing through this time, and also have tough they’ve been doing it. And so in order to sort of shift to that focus in and work with the community, she recently got some funding from the council to do some large scale art installations to debate the challenges that Carer’s face during this time, but also to celebrate the amazing work carers do and the incredible bonds carer work so hard for the ‘cared for’
One of the things she really wants to work towards is to represent and celebrate BAME carers and carers from ethnic minorities, because she recognizes that they’re not represented in a lot of the research on carers or on a lot of the community discussions.
ARTIST LEO JAMELI PRESENTS TO THE FORUM
Lee mentioned in 2019 where he worked with Dr Catriona Mckenzie and Dr Sioban, the project they worked upon was an art projection of his own experiences of care. The art image was of his mother taking care of his father. The image was hand drawn and shows the human endeavor to continue to care. The art projection is called “the Invisible Carer”, which is a large-scale light projection designed to celebrate the often unheralded and crucial role of family carers.
Leo mentioned how he felt to portray mother’s experiences of care, but just in a small kind of loop. So it’s this idea of she was having to carry him instead of losing him, through also, with kind of medical health decline in slipping through her hands, but then finding the strength that most carers find
You can see the art projection in the link below.
what Leo hopes to do these projections is to bring much more public awareness about care, because it seems generally in health services, everyone does a good job, but it seems like kind of social care the poor cousin of the NHS. Leo feels it doesn’t seem to get as much public attention it deserves.
Leo explained more of the visual representation of the art projection and how large the scale of the projection. He mentioned if you look in the back distance, you can see someone in a restaurant, so it kind of gives you the idea of the scale as they are about three to two story is high. The focus for this year is to get a projection of a BAME carer from London to be involved in the new art work, which members were very interested in taking part.
CARER MEMBER RESPONSES
One of the members was interested on how long is this project for? because its possible that covid-19 lockdowns can affect the funding of the project. It was however stated that funding has already been secured for the project, only the weather could cause any disruptions when the artwork is projected on to a building. The aim is to project the artwork in Southwark.
HEALTHWATCH LEWISHAM ENGAGEMENT
Next to engage the BAME carers forum was Sophie from Healthwatch Lewisham. She is the patient experience officer for the organisation. The aim for her was to speak to the group directly to get feedback from health and social care services.
Sophie explained more on healthwatch do. Basically Healtwatch is the patients champion for people who use health and social care services, so that can be carers and relatives and patient service users. Basically Healthwatch takes feedback on hospitals, GPS, opticians, dentists, community health and they basically listen to what’s going well, what could be being done. At the end of every quarter, healthwatch will analyze all that feedback, and then produce reports which is passed on to the people who have the power to make those changes happen.
Many carers feed back about pharmacy issues and queries about hospitals. It was empowering to heave healthwatch engage with carers and I hope we can continue to have engagement from such a prominent organisation.
This concludes our update from the October BAME carers forum. I also want to note that I have released a carers news item. To subscribe click on the link below and select subscribe to get updates of the latest carer news.