Greenwich Mental Health Carers forum August 2021

Welcome to a brief update for my Greenwich mental health carer forum. One of the carer groups I run with the support of Greenwich carers. As usual the forum focuses on unpaid carers who care for someone with serious mental ill health. The forum runs very 2 months since I mostly focus on my other group for greenwich, which is a carer peer support group.

The greenwich MH carer forum also focuses on engagement with unpaid carers rather than a peer supportive environment. Speakers for the Greenwich MH carer forum were as follow.

Victor Aigbe-Anderson – Social Care Assessor

We also had engagement from Greenwich CCG who have been active engaging in my carer groups.

  • Update from Victor Aigbe-Anderson

Victor Aigbe-Anderson who is the Social Care Assessor for Queen Elizabeth Hospital could not attend this time, but he did provide an update regarding service transformation and integration with South London CCG and Greenwich Council. Oddly enough for September both members of my Lewisham, Greenwich and even Lambeth attended to hear NHS England speak about Integrated care system changes. However if I have the time, I will update on what NHS England carer lead for London presented for September.

  • Update from Greenwich CCG

Since Victor could not make it, Greenwich CCG updated carer members on their initiatives. We were joined by iuliana Dinu who is the Communications and Engagement Manager for Greenwich CCG. Her focus was on improving Greenwich CCG communication in order to inform people and let them know about what services are available, plus where and how those services can be accessed. As part of her engagement role Iuliana and working very closely with Deborah Mo.

Just in case you might not already know, Deborah Mo attends my Greenwich MH carers peer support group and also my Greenwich MH carer forum. Deborah Mo is also from Greenwich CCG and is Greenwich CCG’s Mental Health Commissioning Support and Engagement Officer. I know it is rather a long title, but it is a very important one and I suspect many other CCGs have a mental health commissioning engagement officer, which is something carers should be interested in. Just a quick mention is that not only is Deborah a carer, but also has lived experience, which I find important when connecting to those using the services.

Deborah felt that those higher up the pecking order coming to listen is valuable, because as long since she has worked in the NHS, she has not yet come across anyone who does not care about the plight of patients and those that support them. Deborah does acknowledge that this doesn’t mean that when you’re very involved with work, overseeing patient numbers and squaring budgets that it is not possible at times to lose that connection with stakeholders. One of the carer members mentioned that listening is not enough and action or doing something is more important.

Deborah continued on updating what pieces of work are taking place in Greenwich commissioning. These include looking at providers being either both the block providers and the spot providers and seeing how things are developing. Other work and engagement queries look to address how do you move people on regarding their own health needs? and how do you help them to focus on their health and wellbeing. How do you provide the kind of support that encourages them to be independent? And that doesn’t mean that that’s a suitable solution for everyone. Another update was that Oxleas Mental Health Trust is also a lot of analysis at the moment. Deborah wanted to hear if any members of the Greenwich carers forum had been contacted by Independant consultants since she is interested in the outcome.

  • Concerns and queries over carer co-production.

The idea and focus of co-production came up as a topic during the mental health carer forum. One carer member mentioned that a number of things regarding carers involved in co-production, which seems to be fashionable in certain circles, however it often ends up that carers go to meetings where there’s no great purpose and we don’t get paid. They are not really interested in co-production as much as they are interested in getting services working, but failing that, they are more interested in networking with fellow carers because they are tired of co-production.

Deborah mentioned that she totally understands where the carer is coming from and her mantra is that people should be paid for the oppertuntiy of co-production. She feels people who are experts by experience they should paid. Another carer actually felt being paid is just a side track and they would not want to be paid, but are more interested in action since she feels there are a lot of holes regarding mental health provision.

Deborah responded that even though we are meeting virtually, there may be some issues around expenses and people who become involved can put the money to getting access online or travelling. There is also a sense in which, it is about the dignity of being recognized and you can choose not to be paid.

Lastly there were also updates from Greenwich carers on activities taking place at the building.

This concludes the update for my Greenwich Mental Health carer forum August 2021