Category Archives: Aimed at Carers

Blog posts aimed at non paid carers caring for someone unwell.

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

Medication

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.

Carers Rights Day 2021

Welcome to another blog by former mental health carer Matthew Mckenzie. I run many carer forums and support groups for half of London aimed at those caring for someone suffering mental ill health.

I am also an author of the books A Caring Mind and my newly released book “Experiencing mental health caregiving – unpaid carers”. I do not often do videos that much, because I am so busy writing something, but did you know Novemember the 25th is Carers rights day?

For the video version of this blog, please watch below.

Well before I talk more about that, lets understand what a carer is first. When I say carer, I often mean unpaid carers and of course caring for someone you love and are connected to should be the pinnicle of what makes a caring community, but with caring comes added strain and stress, especially with the pressures on health and social care.

So with those added pressures, it is important unpaid carers know their rights. This is just one of the reasons unpaid carers and those that work with them should pay attention to Carers Rights day 2021.

The whole idea of carer’s rights day is

  • Making carers aware of their rights
  • Letting carers know where to get help and support
  • Raising awareness of the needs of carers

So under the carers rights act 2014.

Carers have the rights to

  • A choice as to how your personal budget is managed.
  • A personal budget to meet any ‘eligible needs’
  • Be helped to develop a carer’s support plan Have an assessment of your own needs as a carer (either jointly with the person you care for or separately)
  • Have your say if you are no longer prepared to care, or are not prepared to do an element of caring
  • Have your views taken into consideration by health and social care services when supporting or treating the person you care for
  • Specific advice and information for carers that you can understand

Of course There is no legal obligation to be a carer as unpaid Carers have the right to choose to provide care.

However it is also important that most people are compelled to care because of experiences with a health & social care system under strain. So if you are an unpaid carer and even if you miss out on carers rights day, then please check out the links below my video.

Its never to late to know your carers rights

My new carer book published

Welcome back to another blog by unpaid carer Matthew McKenzie. I am slowly breaking into the world of becoming an author and I am pleased to announce my 2nd book on the experience of caring is out.

The title of the book is called : Experiencing mental health caregiving – Unpaid Carers

Obviously due to my previous role caring for my mother, this 2nd book focuses on mental health carers. What I mean by that is getting views, statements and comments from those who look after someone suffering mental ill health. The book is not to be taken as an audit, but a philosophical look at experience of care, I wanted those to be philosophical on their experiences of being a carer and anything mental health related. There will be comments that stated facts or sometimes seem like a pitch, plus some comments might offend some people, but it is very important to just get the voice out there and understand why someone would comment in such a way.

I am known for my networking to carers and this was the nature of this book. I wanted the book to be a link and connection to other unpaid carers, this is so that there is some form of identity for carers and a way to relate to the experience of care. The book is very large with over 300 pages and 33 chapters. The book however was quite challenging to compile experiences, because quite a few comments brought me back to when I was a mental health carer and some things hit hard.

To research the content for my book, I had to approach many mental health trusts and carer centres to promote my project and I thank those that have contributed.

Many thanks to CNWL, West London Health trust, Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust for their lovely newsletter, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust and many other mental health trusts allowing me to present about my project.

I also approach universities especially those who taught psychiatry, psychology or those who led on social care courses. I wanted their opinions as well, because if you want nurses, social workers, doctors and psychiatrists to work well with carers, you have to start where they are being taught their profession. I did want to include contacts from large organisations, but it was too difficult, although I do hope they support and promote the book. If anything is going to bring changes to the experience of care, it needs to be the voices of carers being amplified.

Next year, I certainly want to expand on the chapters I wrote in this book especially regarding the views given by those who contributed, however before I undertake my next project. I want to try my hand at poetry.

Hope you enjoy my latest work.

Young Carers Action day 2021

Welcome back to another Blog post from Matthew Mckenzie, unpaid carer over in South London, author, activist on my projects called a caring mind.

This Blog post supports the national carer charity – Carers Trust – Young Carers action day for March 16th 2021, but why is it so important young carers get such recognition or even an event to highlight their caring role?

Basically, Young Carers Action Day is an annual event led by Carers Trust. It raises awareness and calls for action to increase support for young people with caring responsibilities.

To see the video of this blog see below.

For 2021, Young Carers Action day will be about Protecting Young Carers’ Futures and making sure that all young and young adult carers get the support they need to go after their dreams.

As a young carer myself…all those years ago, I never gave it a second thought what future I could possibly have, I just kept doing what I was doing, providing care and support. Now with the strain on how schools, health and social care services, it is now even more important to raise that awareness for young carers and also get young carers involved to tell their story and give them the chance and confidence to campaign on what they want for the future.

When young carers think about their future, they think about developing their skills, about what they want to do in their career, their dreams and aspirations. Caring for those you love or support is an honorable role, but it should not define our future and should not hold people back.

With support from schools, carer centres and those who can help make change. Young carers are encouraged to campaign, make a statement and help raise awareness about young carers, especially in schools. Not everyone in schools or colleges can identify or are even aware of young people who provide unpaid care. We have young carers helping or spending large amounts of time looking after someone, which could be helping to keep that person clean, cooking food and cleaning, advocating and being there for that person. All this takes time and energy and we should recognize the added strain facing young carers…..it should be about action and keeping that awareness going.

Carers trust a national charity focusing on making a better future for carers young and old have a wealth of resources for those especially young carers wanting to campaign.

These being

  • Creating a Young Carer Skills Journal
  • Campaign Packs with logos
  • Young Carers Action Day posters
  • and even just to find out more information about Young carers action day.

Please check out their site on https://carers.org/young-carers-action-day-2021

Its important we as a community and society help give power for young carers to help shape and protect there futures…..they deserve it

Covid-19 vaccine – Its safe and necessary

Welcome to my latest blog post by unpaid carer Matthew Mckenzie from South London. I thought to do a quick blog and do my bit regarding COVID-19 Vaccines and the importance of getting the vaccine when it is offered to you.

As you probably already know, just by looking at my photo. I am a black person. It was only in 2019 that health services were put under immense pressure due to the impact of the virus. Not just the health services, but social care, the economy….come to think about it practically everything. Up until now many unfortunately people have been taken from us because of this terrible virus. The old and young, black or white and rich or poor. No one is truely safe, especially those who high risk COVID infection jobs or those from poorer backgrounds. Those from BAME groups have a higher risk of catching the infection and are still suffering the worst outcomes. It does not help that the history of health and social care has been at odds with those from a BAME background.

Fast forward to now there has been many changes and developments. We in the UK are lucky to have access to COVID-19 Vaccines and it was not long before I was offered mine. As a carer and a black person, I was still in two minds about getting the jab.

I must admit I am in many whatsapp groups, plus facebook groups and so on. I often received emails warning about the vaccine and how black people were being tested for eradication, or how my hair would fall out (well I don’t have that much left anyway). Most people I came into contact with discussed the importance of having the Vaccine, while others did not want anything to do with it. Looking back on what we all have been through in 2020 certainly made up my mind. I have lost too many people to the virus and when I was offered the vaccine, I took it.

The day of vaccine jab, I felt a little nervous, I was not sure what to expect or if I would get an unfriendly service. I admit it was so easy to book the appointment online and the location of the vaccine centre was very easy to get to.

I was greeted by friendly staff at the GP surgery who asked appropriate questions before I was due for the vaccine. It was not a long wait and every one was friendly. I filled out a form on my health backgroud, which was also very fast and waited for my turn.

I did not see anyone being dragged into a room and given the shot, people could change their mind anytime and to be honest every one was calm and quite. As soon as I was in the nurses treatment area, the jab was so quick that I hardly noticed it. There still some worry about side effects, but its been 2 days now and apart from a sort arm I have had no side effects at all.

I felt that after all the worry, the COVID-19 vaccine is completely safe and we as black people need all the defense we can get from the virus. There is no conspiracy to wipe out the black race or put microchips in them. We won’t be made infertile, because there certainly is no serious data on clinical trials pointing to this.

It still is important to wear a mask, because no vaccine is 100% effective and so it is important to practice social distancing. I urge those from a BAME background to take the vaccine because we have suffered enough not just from the virus but the difficult roles that those from a BAME background have to do be it in the NHS or social care. I certainly urge carers also to take the vaccine because if you are caring for someone vulnerable and you catch the virus then you put the person you care for at greater risk.

We all must do our bit and protect ourselves, our community and our loved ones. The virus does not really care if your black or white, rich or poor. The virus’s job is to infect you and you have to roll that dice to hope it won’t kill you or spread to those you are trying to protect.

Do yourself a favour and take the jab.

Well done to Alan Worthington – Triangle of Care

Welcome back to my first blog post of 2021 and I have exciting news. I have just heard some days ago carer Alan Worthington got an OBE from the New Years honours. When I found this out, I was overjoyed. If you do not know who Alan Worthington is. Alan was instrumental in the creation of The Triangle of Care.

Alan Worthington – Founder of Triangle of Care

The Triangle of Care has been around for some time, I believe 2010. The Triangle of Care is a set of policies to involve families and carers in the decisions and care of those suffering mental ill health, especially inpatient settings on mental health hospitals.

Triangle of Care Logo

With the support of national carer charity Carer’s Trust and National Mental Health Development Unit, Alan worked so hard to help implement the policy for mental health trusts.

When a mental health trust wants to sign up to the triangle of care, they need to self-assess how families and carers are involved and supported regarding mental health services. Once self assessment of services is complete then the trust can identify what needs to improve in comparison to the triangle of care’s six policies as in.

  • Carers and the essential role they play are identified at first contact or as soon as possible thereafter.
  • Staff are “carer aware” and trained in carer engagement strategies.
  • Policy and protocols re; confidentiality and sharing information are in place.
  • Defined post(s) responsible for carers are in place.
  • A carer introduction to the service and staff is available, with a relevant range of information across the acute care pathway.
  • A range of carer support services is available.

All too often carers can be shut out of the care for their loved ones as all too often Mental Health professionals get the last word. When things go wrong, people finally ask the question “What did you ask the carer about the situation”? It is like families and carers are screaming to be involved, but something is pushing them out.

The aim is to increase involvement and communication between patient, health professional and carer. As in the past all to often there has been an imbalance of communication. There have probably been dozen’s of involvement policies from a patient or MH professionals perspective, but with the triangle of care we get the family and carer influence.

Over the years many mental health trusts have rose up to the challenge and signed up for The Triangle of Care. Below is a list of some of the Mental Health NHS trusts who have signed up and are currently working with triangle of care.

Birmingham & Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust
Bradford District Care Foundation Trust
Devon Partnership NHS Trust
Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust
Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust
Leeds & York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
Livewell South West
Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust
South Staffordshire & Shropshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust
Sussex Partnership NHS Trust
West London Mental Health NHS Trust.
Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust.
Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust.
Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust.
Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.
Southern Healthcare.
Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust
Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
Mersey Care NHS Trust
Norfolk & Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust
Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust
Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust
Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
Tees Esk and Wear Valley NHS Foundation Trust.

It is with the hard work of Alan Worthington and Carer’s Trust that the triangle of care has made such a difference in families and carer’s lives. I myself as a carer activist got involved with the triangle of care because I felt so passionate about the cause. I certainly have to thank Ruth Hannan who inspired myself and others to make a difference and help shape the Triangle of care.

I would like to finish off stating that I am excited South London & Maudsley have taken the challenge to sign up to the Triangle of care and I look forward to see how they can set an example like other trusts currently on The Triangle of Care scheme. There is still much work to do and one should never fully rest on their laurels, but congratulations to Alan for all his achievements.

We can hope the triangle of care continues to work its magic for many across the country and that carers should always be counted.

Sharing your experience of Lewisham health and social care services

When I was caring I felt that the services my mother used impacted on my caring experience. I feel its vital carers do the same and feedback about health and social care services.

Are you a Lewisham resident? Have you been using health and social care services during the pandemic, whether it’s digitally or face to face? Are you passionate about improving health and social care services for the community?  

I encourage you to leave any feedback, positive or negative, about your experiences (it is ANONYMOUS). This can be about your local pharmacy, GP, hospital, optician, dentist or community health, mental health, and social care services. 

Share your feedback here: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/8B8Z3MZ 

You might also consider sharing it with one or two of your friends and family members?

More information:

At Healthwatch Lewisham they are continually wanting to hear and learn from patients, carers and relatives about their experiences with health and social care services in Lewisham. This has changed slightly during COVID-19, however, to ensure patients have a mechanism for leaving feedback and helping to improve services for the community, we have created a Patient Experience Survey. 

Your feedback allows Healthwatch Lewisham to see what is going well for Lewisham residents and what can be improved. 

To learn more about Healthwatch Lewisham’s current work or to leave feedback via their Digital Feedback Centre on their website, please visit www.healthwatchlewisham.co.uk

Carers Rights day 2020

Matthew Mckenzie on Carers Rights

Welcome to my blog site that focuses on mental health carers. What I mean by that is the site raises awareness of carers who are caring for someone suffering mental ill health.

For Carers Rights day 2020. I decided to do a blog post to keep that awareness going. The first website I visited was CarersUK website on Carers Rights day. What I found was really interesting.

Did you know that research released for Carers Rights Day 2020 reveals unpaid carers save UK state £530 million every day of the pandemic?

If you want to see the video version of this blog post then see the video below.

Carers rights day video by Matthew Mckenzie

Although this blog post is a little late for carers rights day, I felt that the event was just too important to miss and I wanted to have my say for carers rights day 2020.

If you already know me, then you know that I am a strong advocator for carers rights.

If you do not know me, then let me introduce myself. My name is Matthew Mckenzie from the borough of Lewisham and I have a blogsite, video channel, carers newsletter, podcasts and now event a book.

I also have a strong social media presence where I advertise my carer’s groups, which has been going many years now. The things that have inspired me to do all the above has been down to caring for my mother who suffered mental illness close to 18 years, but during that time I have worked hard to engage with carers and mental health systems.

Back to carer’s rights day 2020. It is one of the special events that focuses on carers doing the hard work of caring for a loved one either in the family, as a friend or neighbour.

The theme for carers rights day is “Know your rights“. On carer’s rights day, I did a talk at my local carers centre regarding carer’s rights.

Below is a list carers should take note of when pursuing their carer’s rights. If you want to know more in-depth details about Carers Rights, then please watch my video.

Ability to access and improve care for the ‘cared for’ in day-to-day life
Domestic, family, and personal relationships
Carer recognition/support in work, education, training or recreation
Personal dignity (including treatment of the carer with respect)
Physical and mental health & emotional well-being
Protection from abuse & neglect
Social & economic well-being
Suitability of living accommodation
The individual’s contribution to society.