Welcome to the March 2021 update of the joint Southwark & Lambeth Mental Health carers forum. I know its a mouthfull of a title, but just consider its an open forum for those who care for someone suffering mental distress.
For the month of March, the guest invites were the following.
- Jessica powell – Researcher from Imperial College London
- Ros cumberbatch – South London & Maudsley NHS trust carer lead for Southwark
- Annette Davis – Carer peer, activist and BAME carer support.
- Claire Parry – Psychotherapist leading on trust psycho therapy
- Debika – SLaM Assistant Psychologist for Family and Carers Support in Southwark
PRESENTATION FROM JESSICA POWELL
Jessica is currently carrying out a research project for her master’s at Imperial College London. The research she is doing aims to understand interactions between informal caregivers and their care receivers who are elderly. So an informal caregiver is someone who isn’t officially employed for their services that could be a family member, a friend. Jessica is currently looking at carers from 65 years and up, by having an understanding of these interactions with who they are looking after. The project aims is to understand and better implement features within digital systems that are currently being created for Geriatric Care roles. This being monitoring devices, health devices, etc.
So at this stage of her project, She is at the recruiting stage for the study, to understand interactions between the care receiver and the caregiver. Jessica is eagerly looking for participants who would be able to help her conduct a remote observation study or an interview. Within homes, She of course wouldn’t be visiting their homes personally. At this stage, she was there to see if there’s any issues in the forum that would be up to be involved or if there were any contacts or people she could be put in contact with, to participate in this study with her.
QUESTIONS FROM MEMBERS
I asked if the study was restricted to Tower Hamelets and has she had many participants so far?
Jessica responded that reaching out has been very difficult at the moment because of the pandemic, She has had a couple, but unfortunately, one of the participants passed away. And the second one wasn’t comfortable with the study. So she feels she has exhausted quite a few of her methods for recruiting people, which is why she is here today.
Members were interested in what care giver tasks Jessica was reffering to.
Jessica replied it was down to everyday tasks, e.g. administering medication, helping the care receiver to move around the home. So that could be from the bed to the wheelchair from that bed out of that bed and into a chair upstairs. It all could be defined in the study via a conversation.
Ros cumberbatch presents updates for MH Carers in Southwark
Ros explained she was the clinical service leads in SLaM in Southwark. She works with most staff in the recovery teams. She is also the carers lead for service as well. Ros was her to give us some updates and go through a few things aimed at carers. The first thing is she just wanted to mention that the SLaM Family and Carers Strategy is now in place. Ros was not sure if everyone would have seen that, but it has been agreed by the SLaM board and hopefully it will be circulated.
What services has been asked is for each borough (Lewisham, Lambeth, Croydon and Southwark) to localize the trust carer’s strategy and put things in place as a way of making sure that all teams are aware of the expectations. We need to work according to the carer strategy. Its based around the key thing about making sure that teams identify who carer is or was and making sure that engagement happens.
The aim is with SLaM’s carers strategy it will strengthen supporting carers along with the needs that carers require. Of course things SLaM cannot provide then carers will be signposted to relevant support and services. Ros pointed out that we need to make sure that teams are aware of various resources and in terms of staff we need to make sure that they’re trained, that they feel confident to work with carers, as well around different issues. Ros mentioned an ongoing issue which staff have often struggled with is around confidentiality.
Ros pointed out that it’s making sure that we those kind of discussions with staff, so they feel competent, in terms of when they have to work with unpaid carers. One of the ways that SLaM staff help to fulfill the things in the carers strategy is by having “Staff carer champions”, so these are staff members, who can be on an inpatient Ward or in a community team. They take on an additional role in terms of supporting and communicating and engaging with carers. However it’s not their sole responsibility, but they take the lead on carer engagement in terms of working with the team, to make sure that the teams are up to date with any needs around carers and making sure that team members are identifying carers and supporting them.
Ros also mentioned SLaM’s carer engagement and support plan, since it also strengthens support that carers have in conjunction with the Care Act 2014, so carer identification is not left the the Local authority alone.
Annette Davis presents on carer initiatives.
Annette wanted to give everybody a little bit of information about herself and how she engages with mental health services. She feels as a carer it is important to try and give something back. I think it’s really important that in her ‘cared for’s journey and her own journey that she has become more involved in a number of carer groups and that she feels that it’s been so beneficial to be involved in quite of these carer few groups. Annette co-facilities one of the carer groups with SLaM’s inpatient carer lead.
Annette continued to mention that if you have a loved one that’s on an inpatient Ward, as a carer, you’d would be welcome to come and attend the carer peer support she co-facilitates. It is a very confidential space where carers get to kind of unload and express how they’re feeling and how they’re managing with their loved ones being in hospital. The numbers of carers attending are constantly increasing, which is really exciting and it is also an opportunity for us to also learn new skills and learn the role of a carer which is forever changing.
Annette is also involved with the SLaM “step team” which is a Southwark team on Early invention where they identify and also help support carers, because she feels since she has been through that journey there is so much to share. Annette is aware many carers are in desperate situations, but as carers we should not have to cope in isolation.
Claire Parry – Psychotherapist presents on new psychotherapy projects
Claire felt that it was amazing how carers networked and formed groups together and felt that’s what it should be as it’s real inspiration to other carers looking for empowerment and a special connection. Claire was thinking that other london boroughs could learn from the model of what we are doing and how we doing it.
Clarire was going to tell the carers forum a little bit about what her role currently is, and the new role that she is going to be sort of stepping into, She has worked in mental health for probably about 27 years, and I started off her career as an Occupational Therapist. So it’s really nice to see Ross because actually, Claire has worked with Ross several years ago, where during that time, she worked in inpatient services and Community Services, Claire has also worked in addiction services. Plus she worked in a family intervention service which was also a great service as well as working in therapy services.
Claire found it really hard to focus on a kind of individual model and she was thinking, it just doesn’t make sense to her that we don’t understand people in their relationships, in their communities, in their contexts. So it really didn’t make sense to her that over the years, we have had only little bits of individual models, and that we haven’t really thought about how do we include individuals, communities, networks, families, in a much more inclusive co-produced way. So she kind of retrained as a family therapist, but that it’s still means that its not open to everyone.
Alongside her clinical work, she has just taken on a new post from somebody called Isabel Ekdawi who was a kind of a trust advisor around family therapy and family inclusive practice. So she is going to be stepping into that post in June, but she knows from Isabel worked very hard to think about how the trust can embed family inclusiveness into the NHS trust culture. This is so families are seen as a resource and that families are part of the dialogue, especially at times of change, so maybe at transitions into services. Claire mentioned how Isabel was very passionate about the this kind of model, and so she herself has become passionate through how we in a really meaningful way start to kind of embed more of a family inclusive practice at the NHS Trust.
Claire felt that sometimes it’s about dialogue and trying things out. She wanted to have a little bit of a focus group with everyone at this joint Southwark & Lambeth forum to hear people’s experiences and stories and think about where are the points of transition that are really difficult? And what, from a kind of psychotherapy perspective, can we think about doing a little bit differently? And what what are the things that might make a difference? She is also excited about the triangle of care, because she thinks the triangle of care is really setting a framework to think about how do we work in collaboration. On the back of the triangle of care, there’s some fantastic work that other trusts have done, e.g. an NHS trust in Somerset was given as an example.