Welcome to the June update of my Lewisham mental health carers forum. For the month of June my MP Janet Daby who attended to speak to unpaid carers and update us on what Lewisham has been doing for unpaid carers since carers week 2021.
Also in attendance was Jo Power who is the Liaison Officer for the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.
Cath Collins – Carer support worker presents on her role.
Before Janet spoke about unpaid carers, I felt it important that Cath Collins had a chance to speak about her role and her passion to support mental health carers. Cath Collins used to work for SL&M as a carers support officer, but is now employed by Lewisham council, but in a similar role.
Cath spoke about what she is employed to do and what she has been doing. Her remit is with the adult community mental health team. So she does not work with CAMHs, the children, adolescent teams, the older adults. She spoke about how we have primary mental health care teams in Lewisham, which is part of a new transformation of services, that should be aligned to GP practices.
Cath also spoke about having community teams where people have a longer period of support who suffer from serious long term mental health conditions. She mentioend we also have specialist teams in between, which are Early intervention services, which is for people in the first episode of psychosis, regardless of what age they are SL&M also have a personality disorder service.
Cath’s remit is to work with the teams to look at several things where one of them is to look at the information that they give to families and carers. These being are they getting the national up to date information? Other things focus on is such info good information about diagnosis? how to care for someone with a specific diagnosis? being involved in discussions around the care? If not, then why not? and how we could work on it?
With advice and information service, Cath reminded that they have got a group tonight, which is a mental health care support group where people can attend and speakers will go through important topics.
Janet Daby section.
I consider it very important MPs and those who lead on social care engage with those who are vulnerable in the community, especially if the group is grassroots and self-led. I am sure there are reasons why representatives would not want to speak to vulnerable groups, but those reasons are very few and far between.
It is also a two way thing, not only is it important for MPs to link with unpaid carers, but also unpaid carers understand the importance of forming relations. Too often I hear from unpaid carers that they are in an urgent situation and wish for counsel, which is fair. However I wonder in the back of my mind if something could have been done before things got out of control. It might be usually up to carers to keep their ears to the ground and find out what is really in store for them, even if they have the unpleasant task of trying to hold health and social care leaders to account.
Janet mentioned that Carers Week, which took place this year from 7 – 13 June, is an important opportunity to recognise, value and support unpaid carers. She felt that the Government must properly fund respite breaks so carers can put their own needs first, and ensure they can continue to provide vital, life-saving care and support. She knows that this is something that both Carers UK and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services have been calling for.
Janet remains concerned that until there is long-term investment in social care, unpaid carers will continue to be overwhelmed. After a decade of cuts to local government, £8 billion has been lost from adult social care budgets and too many families have been left to cope without the support they need.
The Government first promised to publish its plans to reform social care over four years ago. Despite repeated promises, Ministers have still not brought forward any legislation, new funding, details, or timescales for reform. The recent Queen’s Speech, setting out the legislative agenda for the year ahead, was absent of any detailed plans.
Janet continued speaking to our group about being happy to attend and meet with us even if it was more than once a year. She spoke about her plans and concerns about the SL&M’s Ladywell unit and her plans to raise queries and questions with the chair of SL&M. I asked questions about Lewisham’s focus for carers and how those who lead on social care could engage with our group where Janet mentioned a few people. As a group we have been struggling to get engagement from those who lead on social care, but in other areas of London it seems easier to get that engagement, other carers have mentioned it is not worth the hassle, but I feel it is important to get such engagement even if they respond with bad news. Nothing is worse than being ignored and left to try and support others going through isolation, exhausting and feeling they are not being heard.
Jo Power Ombudsman presentation
Jo spoke about The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman and the focus was on Who they are, what they do. Jo spoke about how the Ombudsman works and makes it’s decisions. Basically the PHSO was set up by Parliament to provide an independent and free complaint handling service. It is the final stage for complaints about the NHS in England.
The PHSO staff considers on the following.
– can they investigate?
– should they investigate?
Other factors include
Another organisation that could be involved.
Jo also spoke about how the PHSO gave’s evidence in the form of.
– Hearing from both sides
– opportunity to tell the PHSO what lay behind clinical decision making
– clinical records
– CCTV, phone records
– witness statements/visits/interviews
There was also an explanation about how the PHSO investigate complaints. As they look to see if what happened was in keeping with relevant regulations, standards, policies and guidance or established good practice. If it wasn’t, the PHSO look to see how significant the shortfall is and the impact that it has had and, if it has caused hardship or injustice, if that has that already been remedied by the organisation.
The PHSO also work with the following organisations.
Stats and figures were given for the carers group to digest from 2018/19
112,262 enquiries received
82,998 enquiries resolved through advice or re-direction
28,841 complaints handled by casework teams
24,183 complaints were not ready for us
5,658 decisions were made including:
746 investigations upheld
871 investigations not upheld
3,597 assessment decisions
The PHSO also updated us on what they have been doing recently. As from last year they ran a public consultation to get people’s views on the draft NHS Complaint Standards. The consultation generated a lot of interest and feedback. On 24 March 2021 they published a report that set out the responses they received and explained what they did and the changes they made in response to the feedback.
There was a long Q&A session regarding the PHSO’s work and how the focus can be influenced by unpaid carers. This was the short update for my Lewisham’s mental health carers forum for June.