SW London MH Carer Forum October 2021

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