Welcome to the latest update of my Greenwich mental health carer forum. I run this with the support of Greenwich carers bi-monthly. The focus of the forum is to give unpaid carers a chance to query, understand and focus on the complex world of mental health provision, especially trying to influence mental health providers of the importance of unpaid carers. In a sense, carers can be service users as well, so services should take account families and friends supporting those with mental ill health.
Speakers for the October Greenwich forum were
Peter Ley – Oxleas Greenwich Service Manager
Myles Thorpe – Voice & Engagement Officer for Greenwich Area Involvement Network
Jason Mcculloch – Service Manager, Commissioning, Health & Adults Services for Royal Borough of Greenwich
- Peter Ley Updates MH carer forum
Peter talked to our group regarding the work going on between Oxleas and Bromley, Lewisham and Greenwich mind in order to create a well being hub. Peter explained that basically, it’s a merging of those kind of services, to kind of provide something for people where there is an easy to access. So when you go to a GP service, or maybe you just want to drop some concerns, what they are developing is a hub of different types of interventions for people that can be accessed really quickly
The intention is to provide people with prompt access to things that will help on their mental wellbeing. The idea is that rather than go through a kind of long drawn out process of repeatedly being assessed for mental health, the idea is to get to something that’s helpful intevention and be quite quick about it, provide things to people in a matter of days, rather than months. This is opposed to when a situation gets worse, then more kind of time has to be taken to get service users back on their feet.
Peter then mentioned how the pandemic is still impacting the NHS. The impact certainly has been felt from a community mental health team point of view, so they coming back into a greater number of face to face visits at home, rather than using the phone or waiting for people to come to them. So people should notice where there’ll be more of contact that is actually face to face. There should be more home visits. Something new were put in place to help with that is something called “The Care Teams Approach”.
So across all the community teams in Oxleas e.g. psychosis teams, the intensive case management for Psychosis services, what they will be doing is getting two care coordinators together and supporting them two support workers. So the kind of caseloads will spread across four people rather than one. So caseload sizes that those four will be looking after will workout to, ideally 50 patients, but in some cases, is 65. The standard there is that each of those workers does at least 10 to 10 face to face visits each week, which should instantly increase the amount of face to face visits that people can expect to get across the month in the community.
- QUESTIONS FROM CARER MEMBERS
I’m understanding correctly, your well being hub, I noticed that it’s still a trial at the moment. But the referrals, are you saying that the referral has to be done via the GP? From my personal point, they cannot manage the services that they’ve already got. I’ve got health problems at the moment, and I’m struggling for myself, if I had to reach out about the person I care for, then the chances are, for example, I call trying to get an appointment on an urgent need. When there’s no appointments, you get referred to the Greenwich hub, they call it a Greenwich hub. And all what they do is triage you over the phone, and then refer you back to the GP anyway
You said it’s two CCOs and two support workers. Are they permanent staff, or are they locums? Because Oxleas seems to me to be running on locums. At the moment.
Peter we have not seen you for a while, we do hope you can engage with mental health carer groups, so there is an understanding of how Oxleas supports and engages with carers.
I myself asked the following questions
Who leads regarding care coordinators and social workers? If a Medical director leads regardings psychiatrists, then does Oxleas have a director of Social care? Although I understand care coordinators can be a generic role, plus what sort of training do staff at Oxleas get regarding carer identification and engagement?
- Bonus update from Debora Mo – Mental Health Commissioning Support and Engagement Officer at SE ICB
Debora updated that they are conducting workshops with clients in a range of supported accommodations in Greenwich. So mainly from bridge support, one housing and Sanctuary. They already had their first workshop but they would like a couple of mental health carers to join if they were able to. There was a contribution for lived experience people, which is London living wage level. The sessions are held at the “London Marathon playing fields” (https://www.accessable.co.uk/venues/london-marathon-playing-fields) and the next one is on the fourth of November. They can only accommodate about one to two carers because the facilitators they are working with are really keen that the group of people who actually have the lived experience.
- Myles Thorpe on the focus of Greenwich Area Involvement Network
Myles introduced himself regarding his work with GAIN. Myles mentioned it’s a was Community Action Group that worked closely with Oxleas and various public mental health bodies to improve representation of seldom heard groups, this means lived experience of mental health users to engage with the service providers. So this is incorporated in the decision making and service provision. The goal is to improve access to mental health services.
GAIN recently registered as a charity, and Myles is their first member of staff. He is doing research essentially, in connecting with various communities. There’s a whole number of groups, networks and subgroups where all of the information that they gather, whether that’s on service users or members of the community, gets fed into a kind of working group. They try and bring the provision of mental health forward so that it’s fit and efficient based on the resources that they have in the community.
- QUESTIONS FROM CARER MEMBERS
It’s good to hear that carers are going to be involved and I hope fully involved, not not just as an afterthought, which we feel we are at the moment.
Wasn’t there a recent event regarding GAIN? I was wondering that turned out?
So Myles and myself sit in different things together, apart from the fact we do communicate a lot, but we also sit in different meetings that involve others like Oxleas and BLG Mind. So we are trying to focus on a united front, in a sense of all the work that’s happening, and also share all this information and knowledge.
- Jason Mcculloch updates on Royal Borough of Greenwich Carers Strategy
Jason talked about what his remit covers, which is a number of service areas, but unpaid carers is one of them. He has been coordinating the delivery of a new carer strategy for the borough of Greenwich, this is a joint carer’s strategy with health colleagues, which was launched formally a couple of weeks ago, down at town hall. The launch was followed up with an event at Greenwich carer center. They are now planning further events in the evening, where the date is to be confirmed.
Jason was at the meeting to let everybody know that they have launched this new carer strategy that they are now moving into the sort of implementation phase of that strategy.
One of the key aspects of the strategy for Jason is that carers should receive a consistent level of service regardless of where they connect with health and social care services across the borough. So whether it’s at the GP, whether it’s with a social care team, either at the carer forum or with Oxleas, whether whether it’s a hospital, and you should expect the same basic level of service, the same sort of consistent information and advice.
In the background to make sure that colleagues across the health and social care sector and are aware of the strategy. We need to make sure they are aware of the commitments within it and understand what services are available for carers, which you can access or can be referred to. So as of this moment they are starting that work now, talking to the various social work teams getting engaged with GPS, and so on.
- QUESTIONS FROM CARER MEMBERS
I’ve done so much for my son in the last two years. And I sit my listen to all these promises, and all the research and projects that have been done. And I’ve heard it all before they come and they take information from us, and then we don’t see them again.
Were there any mental health carers on your working working group? I was on this for 4 or 6 years ago, I was part of the original carer and strategy working group that you were setting up, but it all fell apart and I never heard anything more about it. Will there be more focus on mental health carers this time?