Here is another brief update from my Joint Southwark & Lambeth Mental Health carer forum. One of the carer forums where those who care for someone suffering mental ill health can network and get engagement, info and support from health & social care services.
My carer forums do not just seek engagement from mental health services, every so often carer members request information from accute services.
Speakers for November were
Verinder Mander – CEO of Southwark Carers – Southwark’s carers strategy
Kieran Quirke – Kings College Hospital Mental health lead
Did you know that I run a monthly online carers newsletter? Although most of my focus is on mental health carers, the newsletter focuses on all unpaid carers. The rest of the carer news focuses on Mental health updates, ethnic mental health news and items relating to NHS and national organisations responsible for health & social care.
For January update we have the following news items
Welcome to my November update of my ethnic carer forum. I am slowly changing it from BAME to ethnic although most members who have attended over the years are not that fussed with the title, it is the discussion, focus and engagement regarding the challenges many minority ethnic carers face. The forum covers a large area mainly Lewisham, Greenwich, Bromley and Bexley due to my other carer groups in Greenwich and carer forums in Lewisham. The forum seeks engagement from South London & Maudsley NHS trust and Oxleas NHS trust half the time, but the carer group gets education and empowerment from national speakers regarding race, racism, complexities in mental health and so on.
For the November BAME carers forum the following speakers were
Brenda Onatade – Her Patient Carer Race Equality involvement and update
Samantha Hosten – Importance of Black History month mental health
Lauren Obie – Blacks MindS Matter UK
Lily and Jemma – Maudsley NHS Patient Research ambassadors
Welcome to my latest poem off my poetry project for 2022. My focus is on unpaid carers who look after someone suffering mental illness. Many unpaid mental health carers up and down the country sometimes get frustrated when it comes to being heard. I myself have experienced this, although do not get me wrong. There are times when those in the mental health services can actually support and listen to families, friends and carers.
It is not always the problem of not being listen to or not being heard. Many carers can be confused about what their carer’s rights are. If mental health services are under strain then there will be situations when mental health professionals will not have time for carers and will not often remind carers of their rights.
Sometimes carers are aware that there is nothing the professional can do, but they would still like to be heard on the situation, there might even be a slight chance that something mentioned from the carer can give some hope.
Feel free to check out my poem off my YouTube channel below.
Welcome to a brief update of my South West London Mental Health carers peer group. The carers group covers the 5 boroughs of mental health trust South West London & St George and seeks to empower unpaid carers with engagement, information and a peer environment.
Speakers for the October forum 2021 were
Tristan Brice – London ADASS
Christian Sestier – On involvement of open dialogue at SWLSTG
Alison Crane & Yasmin Phillips (NELFT NHS) – Open dialogue
Tristan Brice presents on London ADASS carer focus
Taken off their website “LondonADASS is an Unincorporated Association that brings together the London based Directors of Adult Social Services (DASSs) to enhance the quality of adult social care across the Capital. Working in partnership with adult social service providers through Proud to Care London, they are committed to improving the recruitment and retention of the adult social care workforce across London.”
Tristan Brice who chairs the carer group at London ADASS was at the forum to speak on what priorites the organisation has for carers. One of the things Tristan presented on was the discounts for carers project, which gives carers a discount on shopping and other necessities. An interesting project is how ADASS will focus on NHS staff retention and how to improve retention. They want to do three things. London ADASS want to promote the sector as a as a place staff want to work. London ADASS also have a project on providing carer lanyards, just like what NHS staff have. There is a focus on raising the identity of unpaid carers as a way to say they should be valued as working for the same team.
When Tristan mentioned this, a lot of the carers eyes lit up as they wondered what the Lanyards would look like.
Tristan also spoke about the online carer groups that London ADASS are hosting, these usually being singing and dancing groups to reduce isolation and increase fun with creativity. Other priorities were on commissioning in regards to safeguarding, developing the workforce, particularly practitioners. The other priority is supporting integration with health colleagues.
You can see the safeguarding video below.
The big focus is trying to not see carers through a social care lens, but through the lens of them as doing an amazing task of looking after someone close to them.
The last presentation was on the success of the carer’s festival, which was online until things change regarding the pandemic. You can see the video below.
Open dialogue presentation
I am fairly well known for promoting the Triangle of care project for carers nationally, but there are other national projects which mental health trusts try to incorporate into their services. One of them is Open dialogue and with a request from carer members, I got support from North East London NHS Foundation trust to speak about how they are incorporating Open dialogue into their services.
First to speak was Yasmin Phillips who is a Community Mental Health Nurse and was the first full time psychiatric nurse using an Open Dialogue approach. Yasmin explained that she works in the dialogue first service at NELFT, and she trained in open dialog in 2014. The Open dialogue is now taking referrals all over England. Yasmin then moved on to explain what Open dialogue is about, which is a reflective approach in increasing dialogue.
Open Dialogue was pioneered in Finland and has since has since been taken up in a number of countries around the world, including much of the rest of Scandinavia, Germany and several states in America.
Some of the results so far from nonrandomised trials are striking. For example, 72 per cent of those with first episode psychosis treated via an Open Dialogue approach returned to work or study within two years, despite significantly lower rates of medication and hospitalisation compared to treatment as usual.
Next to speak a patient involved in Open dialogue in which he mentioned that discussions about the patient on ward rounds is a recipe for disaster, if the patient was not included. He referred to the phrase “Nothing about you without you”. So that just the idea that the patient is involved in that the conversation and it should not be done without them.
So when the involved parties come together, it might just be starting off saying “how do you want to use the time today?”, as non directive as that. And then wherever it goes, it could be lively, all sorts of things. But at a certain point, what one of us might say could be a reflection where they basically press pause on the meeting, and they just turn to each other and share just whatever’s coming up.
This concludes the brief update of my SW London MH carers forum for 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)