Monthly Archives: January 2022

Lewisham Mental Health Carers forum October 2021

Welcome to a brief update of my Lewisham Mental Health carer forum for October 2021. I know I am behind in updating people about my carer forums, but I have mainly been busy working on my 2nd book. I am glad to say the book “Experiencing mental health caregiving – unpaid carers” has been published and can be bought on Amazon.

For the October carers forum, the following speakers were

  • Martin Crow – Business Manager – Lewisham Safeguarding Adults Board
  • Cath collins (carer support officer) – Triangle of care
  • Eunice Adeshokan (Matron Acute Inpatient Services) – Carer engagement at Ladywell Unit

I also was going to do an online carer’s quiz for members, but only if there was enough time during the forum, plus I have to run my Greenwich MH carers peer group after the Lewisham mental health carers forum.

Martin Crow – Business Manager presents on Lewisham Safeguarding

Martin Crow sits on the board for the borough of Lewisham Safeguarding. The Lewisham safeguarding board was established statutorily in April 2015, to meet the requirements of the Care Act 2014. Although Lewisham had a safeguarding board in Lewisham, for many years before the Care Act, it was put on a statutory footing for the first time in 2015. The board has the responsibility for setting the strategic direction of Adult Safeguarding cross the borough of Lewisham, and is made up from over 20 organizations. But the three statutory partners are the police, Lewisham council and the clinical commissioning group southeast London CCG. So the key public sector partners, as well as other voluntary and community sector partners are involved in the safeguarding board. In the end it is their job basically to oversee the approach that the safeguarding board have, collectively, to ensure that adults are at risk of abuse, neglect are supported and protected in the best possible way.

Martin feels the key thing is that safeguarding is everyone’s business. So it’s not just about those 20 organizations, it’s about any organization that delivers services to adults at risk. It’s about adults themselves, and it’s very much about carers as well and not just the patient or service user. So the job of the board is to engage a very wide range of people from different communities across the border. This is so we can all help to play a part in protecting those most at risk. So part of Martin’s job is to is to help to reach out to different communities, organizations and work closely with them and in partnership with them.

Martin gave us an overview of what Adult Safeguarding actually is and about the word safeguarding can be used in many different ways and in many different contexts. For the broadest possible way really to think about Adult Safeguarding is that it’s about people. It’s about organisations and it’s about working together to prevent and stop off the risks and experience of abuse and neglect. So it’s not just about thinking about when things have gone wrong.

Martin mentioned that when people have experienced abuse, it’s thinking about the risk of abuse. It’s very much about prevention. so when the Care Act came into force in 2015, prevention really was really brought to the forefront because in Adult Safeguarding terms prior to that, there was too much focus really on protection about when something had already happened (which meant it was too late). The intention of the care act was to turn that around to say that there should be more focus on prevention.

What Martin was seeing around safeguarding is that it is everyone’s responsibility. The only way that people can hope to achieve those things in terms of prevention and stop the risk of abuse is by working with the whole community approach.

In Lewisham Martin mentioned that we have many organizations that run specific services, there’s probably over 500 organizations in Lewisham delivering services that can be a risk.

Martin spent quite a while talking to carer members about the types of safeguarding abuse and what the causes would be.

Cath Collins presents on SLaM NHS triangle of care

Cath Collins is Lewisham council’s carers support officer who works closely with South London & Maudsley’s NHS foundation trust. She was here to present and raise more awareness of the triangle of care and how it can be used for mental health services in the borough. Cath asked members what they knew about the ladywell unit, which is SLaM’s inpatient psychiatric ward and part of Lewisham Hospital. This is where anybody who needs to go into hospital suffering a mental health crisis could use in terms of going into a mental health Ward.

Cath mentioned that the triangle of care has been around for at least over 10 years, possibly longer. It’s a form of excellent practice when working with carers and families or in a mental health setting. For South London & Maudsley they are going to focus on the wards initially because that’s where when the triangle of care was formed, that was its first focus, it was put together by a carer Alan Worthington.

Alan developed a good practice guide on the back of his own experience while visiting his son in hospital. So the practice actually comes from a carer’s perspective, which has expanded to around 50 Mental Health trusts in England that have signed up to it.

Cath talked about the problems of not using the triangle of care, which provided the following challenges.

  • Carers being excluded at certain points of the care pathway
  • Failure to share information on risk assessment and care planning (see SUI reports and recommendations)
  • Requests by carers for information, support and advice not heard
  • Carers unique and expert views and history of the service user can be missed

She then mentioned some of the benefits when the Triangle of care is implemented for mental health services.

  • Clarity over matters of disclosure from service user to carer
  • Increase in identification of carers and referrals to carer support services
  • Increase in communication from more carers attending care planning meetings and ward rounds
  • Reduction in complaints and increase in compliments
  • Increased enthusiasm from staff

The triangle of care requests strict self assessment from wards, staff and community settings, this goes to insure things are implemented correctly and this helps staff recognise what key areas are needed for improvement.

Eunice Adeshokan presents on Carer engagement at Ladywell Unit

Eunice who I have known a very long time stepped in to co-present on carer’s awareness training at the inpatient ward. She mentioned that carers awareness training on a system has been done via an online system for staff. It’s about no less than an hour training, but a lot of work needs to be done to improve training. So one of the plans that SLaM has got in mind is to make sure that know their staff are carer aware and encouraged to complete this training and more.

Eunice talked about how they currently engage families and carers on the inpatient wards and what challenges have been taken up. Eunice will be back in January 2022 to talk about their event regarding triangle of care and serious incidents, which I have been involved in developing.

This concludes my carers mental health forum for the borough of Lewisham

The Carer’s Assessment – New poem by Matthew Mckenzie

Welcome back to another blog by former unpaid mental health carer Matthew Mckenzie. I am working on my carer awareness poetry for 2022. Poetry can be great for creativity, expression and even for campaigning.

I have done around 60 poems for the book I am going to release later on this year, the poetry book will contain around 150 poems.

For this particular poem, it is about a recent download of a carers assessment and my attempt at filling it in. At first I am nervous about filling in such forms because it asks such personal and thought provoking questions. After a while, I find the form gets easier to fill in, but I query is it worth filling the form.

This poem called “The Carer’s Assessment” can be views from the video below.

There will be times carer’s can’t be bothered to fill them in because they don’t get anything out from it and its engagement to carers can just be a tick-box exercise.

It’s still advisable to fill in carers assessments since it is a good way to be recorded and identified as a carer.

Experiencing mental health caregiving : Chapter 1 – Carer identity

Experiences of Mental Health caregiving

Welcome to my latest blog about my new book. My name is Matthew Mckenzie a former mental health carer who cared for his mother who suffered from a form of schizophrenia.

I have decided to highlight chapter one of my book “Experiencing mental health caregiving”

The first chapter explores what unpaid mental health carers feel about their identity. Each chapter of my book asks several intriging questions about mental health caring, which of course focuses on unpaid carers e.g. families and friends caring for someone close suffering mental ill health.

Carer Identity

The first question I asked carers on chapter one, which is “Carer Identity” was “What does it mean to be a mental health carer?”

You can see the video of this below below

The reason I asked such a question is that those who suddenly find themselves providing care might find some of the answers useful. Perhaps even NHS professionals or social workers might find the answers important.

I will pick out a few responses that I found highlighted the importance of carer identity.

One carer responded as

I think that it’s difficult. Often nobody other than the carer can see the disability with the person that you’re caring for. And so, they go unnoticed. Plus with mental health, it fluctuates and dramatically as well.

Another carer felt

For me to be a carer of a mental health patient has turned my world upside down completely. This is different when you caring for somebody outside your family, but when it is someone in your family then it is an application of emotional attachment.

Another carer summed up
My own identity disappeared in the beginning of my caring journey. It also means getting acknowledgement from healthcare professionals that I am an important person in my loved one’s care

What I thought was interesting is how difficult it was starting out caring for someone suffering mental illness, notice the responses all mentioned how tough it was when they first started out caring. Although certainly take note, I have only shown some of the responses here as others in the book might be different. One thing to note is some carers might find the role gets easier depending on their knowledge of the illness or the support they may get from services, community or other members of their family. This might not be the case for all unpaid carers.

For chapter one I asked around 8 other questions regarding carer identity and if you are interested about mental health carers, you can buy my book on the video link description.

Mental Health carer poetry – On Alert


Happy new year to visitors of my mental health carer blog site. As mentioned in my earlier blog posts, I am working on promoting awareness of caring for someone suffering mental ill health.

I created a number of carer poems, quite a few are on this site, but are subject to being edited as I am often fine tuning poems.

I am also adding a couple of my poems on to my YouTube platform and will blog them every so often.

The poem I want to introduce here is titled “On Alert” as it highlights the struggle unpaid carers go through in prompting medication. A lot of carers hate doing such a task, but when the experience the person’s mental health crisis, they want to try avoid the situation again and take resort to being on alert.

Watch my 2 minute poem “On Alert” off my video link below.

Joint Southwark & Lambeth MH Carers forum October 2021

Welcome to my brief update of my joint Southwark & Lambeth mental health carer forum for October 2021. As with my other carer forums, this forum runs once a month and provides a platform for health & social care organisations to engage with those who care for someone suffering mental ill health. The primary focus for engagement is obviously South London & Maudsley who heavily support the carer forums, however a fair bit of the time the forum gets engagement from other parties, this could include Kings College NHS trust or Guys & St Thomas who also advertise the carer forum.

Speakers for October were

  • Dr Siobhan O’Dwyer – Spotlight on Care
  • Danny McDonagh – Employment & Education Engagement Worker (Mosaic Clubhouse)
  • Barney Stark – (Mosaic Clubhouse)

Dr Siobhan O’Dwyer presents Spotlight on Care

At that very same evening Dr Siobhan from University of Exeter was showcasing the “Spotlight on Care” at Peckham Library. Thus was done in a collaboration between artist Leo Jamelli and fellow academic Dr Catriona McKenzie. One of our members from my BAME carer forum collaborated with the project, where her picture was projected off the library showing her supporting the person she was caring for.

Dr Siobhan explained how incredibly powerful and moving the projected artwork turned out to be. This art really shone the spotlight on caring experiences during the pandemic. She felt Lots of other groups have had their moments recognized and resolved, but unpaid caring has were not recognized as we had the “clap for carers” campaign and more. She felt carers were dumped upon and that they’re still struggling because services haven’t reopened or services were close permanently. So to note carers are taking on that low, which is why they really celebrating the incredible work that unpaid carers do. It is not just about the artwork, but also also about starting some really powerful and public conversations about what it means to be an unpaid carer and on how do we rally around them as a community?

As soon as Dr Siobhan mentioned community, something triggered in my mind wondering if the community acknowledges caring, but the problem is caring can be a personal, closed off thing, unless the person suffering mental illness has a crisis in the community, which is when you need the community to rally around, unfortunately stigma and misunderstanding can take its toil and people might not want to know or care.

Leo Jamelli Artwork for Spotlight on care

Dr Siobhan mentioned they came to Peckham about two weeks before the installation to do a test run and people would come down coming over and say “WOW! I saw the image down the road and I had to cross the street”. Dr Siobhan mentioned there was this one lady who asked what the image was about and that she stopped to talk to her. In the end the women felt the image represented herself. Dr Siobhan mentioned that she did not think the lady had ever seen herself depicted In this way, and it was incredible experience for her as the image represented so many in the borough of Southwark and beyond.

It wasn’t just about the role of caring, but how every person who came over and asked us about the representation of being black and how they loved the projection shown off the library. This highlighted discussions in the community about the artwork.

Matthew Mckenzie outside Peckham Library

To read up more about the project, see the links below

Celebrating millions of unpaid carers with a beautiful hand-drawn animation

Spotlight On Care Peckham

Barney and Danny present on Mosaic Clubhouse

We got a brief summary about Mosaic clubhouse, which is a mental health charity based down in Brixton (borough of Lambeth). The club has been around for 27 years, and it is an accredited club clubhouse. The clubhouse model is an internationally recognized recovery rehabilitation model that’s been around since the 1940s. In fact it originated in the United States, where it’s a model all about co production, participation, and promoting positive mental health. At the clubhouse individuals are referred to them where they can become members with an increased sense of belonging to the community. Members can get involved lots of volunteering activities, which include sightseeing, working at the Moasic clubhouse cafe, on the reception or illustration work, they can even help put together the newsletter.

Outside agencies usually help with signposting other people to services, although even at the clubhouse members can get extra help from other parties. Staff are usually doing lots of phone calls as well as checking to make sure members are okay. The Clubhouse offers Employment, educational and social activities. The clubhouse has recently gone back onsite due to the pandemic, but there has been many online and offline sessions, which are continuing to run and be delivered by members themselves.

Mosiac Clubhouse has access to some colleges and there was an increased focus on outreach to get people away from isolation. The clubhouse ran a Digital Inclusion project to help members get online, get access to social inclusion proxies, or employment application assets.

Quite a few questions from carers asked about the clubhouse model.

Danny mentioned there are actually 50 Clubhouses across the world. Most of which are in North America and Northern Europe like Scandinavian countries.

This concludes my brief update of the Joint Southwark & Lambeth MH carers forum.

Greenwich Mental Health Carers forum October 2021

Welcome to the October update of my Greenwich Mental Health carer forum. As with my other carer forums, this one focuses on engagement from the local mental health NHS trust that covers greenwich, that being Oxleas MH NHS trust. I run this forum with heavy support from Greenwich carers who fight and advocate for the needs of unpaid carers in the Royal borough of Greenwich.

Speakers for the October Greenwich MH carer forum were

Peter Ley (Oxleas NHS) – Service Manager
Sue Horbury (Oxleas NHS) – Online Patient system
Laurelle Morgan Bruce (Oxleas NHS) – Oxcare

Peter Ley presents about his role

Peter Ley from Oxleas has a very important role that impacts many mental health carers in the borough of Greenwich, which is why some members wanted to find out more about what he does. Peter talked about service updates on what Greenwich MH services were going through, plus also to briefly talk about the Oxleas strategy.

Peter pointed out that he has been at the organization since June 2020, but felt joining an NHS Trust at the heart of pandemic can be challenging, still many months later he has found is that, whilst in that period of time, the organization took the decision to move from borough based services and move towards service lines. Peter did warn that unfortunately, the NHS has got a lot jargon in it and he will try and filter it out during the presentation.

So for borough based this just meant that the Greenwich had a management team, and a set of a set of services, which was inpatients and the community teams, and it was clear that people belonged in those teams. Then there’s a bunch of teams in the community and those are in between the GP surgery and specific teams, there’s a team called PCP as in Primary Care Plus, where they may take the referrals from the GP surgeries and kind of work where patients need access to the right part of the service.

Peter then talked about the inpatient facilities and Oxleas house and on what they provide including explanations on the treatment team and medical liaison team, plus on the older aged services along with the community mental health team and the memory services. Peter talked about the team based out of the hospital that works with older people, and how they link up with the community teams.

Peter was kind enough to mention that he has got access to organisation charts and diagrams that show how the services link together. It is a good way to understand things at a birds eye view. Peter continued to talk about those teams and how they run from Greenwich, the borough of Bexley and also Bromley. Historically the Clinical commission groups were set in each borough for Bexley, Bromley, and Greenwich, So the organization (that being Oxleas NHS) felt it was important to have a local relationship with the commissioners to kind of ensure that things that were in accordance to what was needed. But more recently, people might be aware that we have things called integrated care services now and it has been going on for a number of years. The conclusion from a lot of work nationally was to get services to be more joined up and make them more effective

Some members of the group wanted to talk more about how services were affecting them, which led to a lengthy discussion on the challenges such changes in the organisations need to link to carers. In the end it was felt Peter could link up more with both the forum and our greenwich carer’s peer group, since some carers felt neglected. Peter was kind enough to agree and we hope to see more of him in the new year.

Sue Horbury presents on Oxleas Patient database system

I am always interested to hear how the mental health organisation identified, recorded and referred unpaid carers off their patient database. So Oxleas was very kind to send Sue Horbury who works with the patient database system called ‘RIO’. Now RIO is actually used in many mental health trusts, although other mental health trusts have different patient database systems.

Sue presented herself as the equal transformation program manager for RIO. What that actually means in practice is she looks after and runs the team that works with introducing new technologies to the mental health trust. Sue talked to us at length about the patient record system and how they collect information about carers.

Sue talked about their clinical system and also what they call the support network engagement tool. So the system provides Oxleas with the ability to be able to register carers and wider support networks that they created some time ago to calculate information. However Sue mentioned that they realized earlier this year, that it wasn’t necessarily doing everything they needed it to do. So there was updates which Sue talked to the group about. Sue felt the system needed to capture who is in person support network, that being their primary carers, but also other people that might support them, and also how and when the organisation should engage with carers coming from the patient database system. This is where the clinicians might want to invite carers to be part of the care plan where it could be virtual or it might be face to face. In the end the organisation has a mixed approach, since we are in the world of pandemic.

So one of the key things Sue explained is how to know when Oxleas speak to their patients and service users and what are the fundamental questions. These being who are the most important people in your life? And how would you like them to support you in your care? Should we as Oxleas contact them? And if we should, how often should the contact be and who should Oxleas contact in the event of an emergency So that they have some guidance around how and when your wishes should be met.

Sue was very clear that maybe this isn’t happening as often as it should do, but that is certainly being recorded. The system has the ability to capture, but Oxleas can always strive to do better.

Laurelle Morgan Bruce presents on Oxcare

Following up on Sue’s presentation Laurelle talked Oxcare and what it meant for users of the services. Oxcare shows personal and medical information held on the patient’s personal health record, some of it comes from Oxleas’ record systems (RIO).

It allows patients to add their own information about their health, along with details which may be used to help with them on their current illness. This could include a diary or trackers to record their mood or pain. In some cases, it may reduce the need for them to attend many appointments.

She mentioned what was taken into the live environment some all the new functionality which will link up with Rio and allows Oxleas to bring information from Rio into the records. There has been lots of progress and they have started to work with some of the teams around the trust, but there is always oppertunity for members of the group to be involved and have a look.

There will be 3 Phases for leading on to the new year.

Phase 1 some services and their patients have access in 2021
Phase 2 During 2022 all services will be able to offer Oxcare
Phase 3 Reviewing and adding more functionality

Overall the forum was a little heated, but I was impressed that Oxleas staff did engage with the carers group as unfortunately there are organisations out there where carers do not have a carer’s centre or a group that can be a platform for engagement, querying and updates.

This is my brief update on my Greenwich MH carer forum for October, where the new one will be in January where Oxleas PALS will be talking more about what they do.

SW London MH Carer Forum September 2021

Welcome to a brief update of my South West London mental health carer peer forum. This group is a mixture of carer peer support and mostly engagements from health & social carer organisations, especially the local mental health trust South West London & St Georges. This carer’s group cover’s 5 boroughs as all 5 carer centres including the mental health trust work hard to promote it.

South West London & St George NHS

An extra bonus of this group is I do open it up to national speakers so the following speakers for September

Continue reading