Category Archives: Carer Events

Review and updates on carer events I attend

Lewisham & Greenwich NHS Trust The Improvement Showcase Event

Hello fellow carers of Lewisham and Greenwich. Registration for the Lewisham & Greenwich NHS trust’s Improvement Showcase Event is now open.

The event looks to present on bridging the gap between on improving quality healthcare for all.

The event will be opened by CEO Ben Travis

Speakers throughout the day will be LGT Improvement journey so far Louise Crosby, Chief Nurse

“Bridging the gaps in health inequalities- the national picture” presented by Dr Dianne Addei who is Senior Public Health Advisor for the National Healthcare Inequalities Improvement Programme by NHS England & Improvement

We also have “What does it truly take to embed a culture of continuous improvement?” This will be presented by Dr Amar Shah, Consultant forensic psychiatrist & Chief Quality Officer from East London NHS FT

Of interest to carers will be a session on “Co-producing improvements” where people can hear about examples of co-production from some of the hospitals patient and carer representatives.

You can register for the event below

https://us06web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZYtd-2vrjwiGtFCKetZJlyRPeCwzJBa_y43

Kent & Medway NHS and Kent Community Health NHS FT joint Carers Conference 2022

Welcome fellow carers. Another update from carer ambassador Matthew McKenzie. I thought to do a quick update and feedback to a recent carers conference I have just returned from. The event has such a significance because it was held during carers week 2022.

As you might know already, I speak often about the carer’s policies on Triangle of care. Usually the triangle of care has been taken up by many mental health trusts, but we are seeing an evolution where community and acute NHS trusts are picking up the challenge to focus efforts to families, friends and carers. So on the 9th of June 2022. Kent & Medway NHS & Social Care Partnership Trust and Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust launched their first ever JOINT carers conference.

The conference took place over at the Repton Connect Community Centre over in Ashford. I had a pleasant journey by train as the sun was shining. Of course I did not want to miss the event, because I was involved in co-producing the event with other carers. This is very important for other NHS trusts to co-op carers into planning such events since carers have an idea on what other families, friends and carers would like to hear.

I am blogging about the event, because I dont think I managed to give feedback when I left near the end of the event. So I hope my feedback is useful.

As I arrived at the conference, it was easy to get in because both staff from the 2 NHS trusts recognised me straight away and were smiling. I did catch a hint of nerves as people wonder if something was going to go wrong or fall apart, but as the conference got underway, everything went smoothly.

We had a good turn out at the first ever carer’s conference for the 2 NHS trusts and I was very impressed that both Chief execs (Gordon Flack and Helen Greatorex) of the NHS trusts turned up to open the event. They both admitted that although lots of changes has happened, there was always more to do. What impressed me is that the CEO’s stayed for quite a while at the event and introduced themselves to many staff and carers.

The set up of both on-site and virtual engagement was very impressive, but it is a different experience if you turn up for the event, although I admit some people cannot leave the ‘cared for’ by themselves at times.

We have some excellent activities and workshops listed below

  • Carer stories from Liz
  • Carer experience Video from Kay
  • Workshop on Carer assessments and support (carer’s first charity)
  • Dementia Care from Specialist Nurse
  • A video from MP Helen Whatley who used to be Minister for Care
  • Recovery college presentation
  • Managing Medication
  • Triangle of Care progression and updates
  • Plus close from the Acting Chief exe and CEO

Favourite parts of the event

I would have like to say I loved all of the event, but some things stuck out more and I feel they ought to get a mention. These things would have to be the ‘Carer’s Stories’. If its on video or a brave carer standing up in front of other carers or staff, its always something special. I learn from others all the time and I am sure other carers and professionals learn from those stories. In fact one of the carer stories is used for training staff. It make things that personal and authentic.

Another thing I felt was important was the triangle of care update, especially from Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust, since it was the first non-mental health trust to take up the challenge of Triangle of care. Implementing the triangle of care is no easy task. It is not meant to be easy to be honest, but that NHS trust has laid the foundation for others to follow.

The food was very good at the conference and I hope in later conferences we can get something hot. I admit with conferences from South London and Maudsley, I get the feeling they splash out and spoil carers. Still, the food was very good and I did not waste anything. Most importantly, I networked with other carers and we exchanged details to keep in touch. This probably the most important reason for attending a carers conference. Carers ought to network and keep in touch.

Lastly, I took the chance to visit some stalls and found some useful information that can make life easier for unpaid carers, friends and family.

Overall I felt the staff worked very hard to put the first ever joint carer’s conference together and I hope the next conference will be bigger and lay even more foundations for others to follow.

I almost forgot. I did not manage to do a carer poem at the event. So I thought to leave one here, the poem highlights the importance of telling a carer’s story, especially at events like the one I have reviewed.

I tell my story to the crowd
I tell it loud, nice and proud
It is my story that I be telling
Of all my work and all my caring

No sweat, no fear I tell it here
Of all my hopes and all my fears
It started on that fateful morning
Her mental illness came without warning

I told the audience how I was frantic
I alerted the doctor who said “Don’t Panic”
It’s such a long journey of my caring
I am telling my story to be sharing

The audience stared, cheered and cried
And onwards still, I ve nothing to hide
All is laid out with my story to bear
I am doing my best with little to fear

And now my story is at an end
I hope the audience comprehends
I feel accomplished and feel understood
On telling my story, who thought I never would

The importance of carers week 2022

Welcome everyone, especially unpaid fellow carers who are caring for someone.

My name is Matthew McKenzie, carer, author of a Caring Mind and Experiences of Mental health caregiving. I also run many carer peer groups and forums aimed at those providing support to someone suffering mental illness. Plus I am the chair of Carers UK ethnic carers advisory group and the National Triangle of care group regarding principles of carer engagement.

I am here to blog about carers week. For this year, it will be carers week 2022. I have been a long supporter of raising that much needed awareness of carers week not only to those who provide health and social care services to unpaid carers, but raising awareness of caring to the public and even carers themselves, not every knows or understands they are caring.

To watch the video, please play the video below.

  • So what is carers week all about?

Carers Week is an annual campaign to raise awareness of caring, highlight the challenges unpaid carers face and recognise the contribution they make to families and communities throughout the UK. It also helps people who don’t think of themselves as having caring responsibilities to identify as carers and access much-needed support.

Organisations that support carers week are too numerous to mention, but the main ones are listed below

  • AgeUK
  • Carers Trust
  • Carers UK
  • Motor Neurone Disease Association
  • Oxfam
  • Rethink Mental Illness
  • The Lewy Body Society
  • So why do I feel Carers Week is so important this year?

Well there are several reasons.

The first is that there are many policies and laws being revamped and changed, this includes the Mental Health Act, The health & Social care Bill, Mental capacity Act and many more. We must raise the awareness that these changes do not exclude carers and their importance.

The other reasons are due to the high cost of living, unpaid care by its very definition IS unpaid, the vulnerable took a knock during the COVID-19 crisis and yet again the vulnerable will take a hit again. Providing support and care in the community should be praised by society and yet many think people should just “Get on with it”.

There are many other reasons, but the video would take so long. Unpaid caring carries stigma, not many would jump to the front of the line and say they are caring for someone suffering psychosis or self harm, because still in society people will be riddiculed. The other side of the coin is that some carers out there do not want the label, but the risk is they might lose out on support. Carers week gives that much needed awareness to say caring should be valued.

Lastly did I mention I am a poet? I am supporting Carers Week 2022 by doing a share and learn session at Carers UK. If you are a carer and want to hear more about my poety, mental health or awareness of ethnic / BAME carers. Please see the link below

https://www.carersuk.org/help-and-advice/get-support/share-and-learn-online-sessions

Carers Week: Support in Southwark: Carers

Do you know Carers Week 2021 starts on monday 7th of June?

The theme for this year is Making Caring Visible and Valued. Which is good news for Southwark since Southwark Healthwatch are running an event where unpaid carers in Southwark can learn about the different types of support available for carers in borough. There will be guest speakers from various services such as Southwark Carers, Mobilise, the Carers Leads from Southwark Council and Coach4Carers to speak to unpaid carers about different ways they support carers.

There will also be a Q&A session after each speaker to answer any questions you may have.

I will be opening the Southwark Healthwatch event and hope to see many carers learn what support they can get for carers week.

To book on the event see the details below

https://www.healthwatchsouthwark.org/event/2021-06-09/support-southwark-carers

Beyond Carers Week 2020

smallerHello everyone and fellow carers. Just a quick blog post now that Carers Week has ended. For those who do not know about Carers Week, basically it is an awareness event that looks to raise the awareness of unpaid carers throughout the week of June 8th – 14th.

Carers Week is an annual awareness campaign to celebrate and recognise the vital contribution made by the UK’s 6.5 million carers.

My view on how Carers Week 2020 went

I am not sure if many people or blogs mention views on post events. I felt Carers Week 2020 really raised the bar for Carers week 2021 due to the amount of activities, events and awareness drives from people, charities and organisations. I have been involved in quite a few carer awareness events over that week.

Continue reading

LSE research on Carer wellbeing

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Research at the London School of Economics and Political Science want to understand what impact covid19 coronavirus has on mentalhealth, wellbeing and loneliness of carers supporting people with poor mentalhealth. If you are an unpaid carer help LSE by filling in their brief

https://lse.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_3ItyiAwSrT7xeTj

The survey should take about 15 minutes. All information will be treated in confidence. You can change answers until you submit the questionnaire. It has received ethical clearance from the London School of Economics and Political Science. If you have questions please contact David McDaid Email: d.mcdaid@lse.ac.uk More information at http://eufami.org/2020/04/28/covid-19/

A Look back at 2019

10177241_747738765268892_5890142387668348507_nThanks for dropping by. I am in the midst of compiling my new podcast on the experiences of carers, but in the meantime I thought to do a quick blog on looking back at what I have been up to in 2019.

As usual I have been continuing to run four carer forums each month for the past year. We have had a lot of support from the community and I can only hope it continues in 2020, because the groups will increase to another 4 and an extra borough.

However from each of the 4 carer engagement forums here is the list of those who engaged with carers

Lewisham MH carers forum (2019 speakers)

  • SLaM Hoarding Service
  • Roslyn Byfield is a trained Counseller and therapist,
  • Kathryn Hill (Director of England for Carers Trust)
  • SLaM Engagement lead for Lewisham and Croydon
  • SLaM Patient Advice Liason Service
  • Lewisham Healthwatch
  • Lewisham CCG
  • Ruth Morgan – Clinical Psychologist
  • Aaron Brewer – SLaM Quality Improvement
  • Cllr James Rathborne – Lewisham Mental Health Champion
  • SLaM Head of Nursing

Lambeth MH Carers forum (2019 speakers)

  • Lambeth Healthwatch
  • Eva Klamerus on CoPE online resource for carers
  • Lead for Lambeth Hospital
  • Helen Hayes MP for Dulwich & West Norwood
  • Rebecca Martland researcher from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience
  • Robert Stebbings the Policy and Communications Officer from Adfam
  • Older Adults and Dementia Operations Directorate

Southwark MH carers forum (2019 speakers)

  • Eva Klamerus on CoPE online resource for carers
  • Southwark Healthwatch
  • Kings College Hospital Carers Lead
  • NHS Serious Incident investigator
  • Nicola Gunn Solicitors
  • Southwark CCG on their carers strategy
  • Southwark Council
  • Rebecca Martland researcher from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience

Lewisham BAME MH carers forum (2019 speakers)

  • Lewisham Police MH engagement lead
  • Eva Klamerus on CoPE online resource for carers
  • Lewisham CCG – queries on Lewisham carers strategy
  • Lewisham Council
  • SLaM PALs on SLaM Carers strategy
  • Table Talk on Older Adult community support
  • SLaM pharmacist
  • South Lewisham GP Practice PPG chair
  • SLaM Equality Lead
  • Errol Chambers SLaM Inpatient social worker
  • Clinical Team Leader for Lewisham Community Services

I would like to thank those who took their time out from work to engage with carers and carer representatives in those boroughs.  Special thanks to fellow carers also managing to attend.

Just a quick note that there have been quite a few more attendees particular for Lambeth borough, but I had not managed to always blog those meetings in time.

Other things I have been busy doing in 2019.

Below are a list of events and activities I have been up to in 2019.  The list is not in-depth because there are a lot of things I have missed out, but there is a link below each title which you can click on to read more about different events.

Lewisham Stakeholder event

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Near the end of the year, I was happy to set up a workshop about carers at the Lewisham CCG stakeholder event. It took a bit of work, but many carers from Carers Lewisham supported each other and we all felt the workshop empowered us all. The Lewisham Mental Health Stakeholder event went very well and was attended by many stakeholders, partners and organisations also running their workshops.

Lewisham MH Stakeholder event Link

ADASS Carer celebration festival 2019

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The first London Carers festival took place over in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. The event was planned by the Directors of Adult Social Services and other partners. The carers festival was very well planned with many community activites throughout the day. As we all know carers do much for almost next to nothing, so I was proud to attend and observe the festival. I hope the 2020 carers festival will go well and I am wondering what London borough will run it.

ADASS Carer celebration festival 2019 link

HSJ Award Ceremony 2019

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The Health Service Journal awards was a long time in the making, but I am not surprised because the awards cover the whole of the NHS. I was delighted to be one of the judges on picking which part of the UKs System Led Support for Carers and how those systems would incorporate, identify and empower carers. All applicants had excellent case studies, but can be only one winner which was West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership, although Manchester Healthcare partnership was highly reccomended.

HSJ Award Ceremony 2019 Link

Carers UK annual conference 2019

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Carers UK (I often mention them) also had their annual conference on developments around the country for carers. I was delighted to be given a chance to speak at the conference in regards to carers empowerment, which I feel is a much needed thing for carers. Carers UK gave me that extra voice for that day and will continue to give carers that needed voice.

Carers UK annual conference 2019 Link

St Andrews Black History Month event

I was not able to blog the event, but I was happy to speak about the “Importance of BAME NHS Staff and the relation to BAME carers in the community”. The event took place of at St Andrews healthcare site. The site was massive and I felt like I walked 3 parks to get to their head quarters. The turnout was very good and the event was planned well. I am awaiting what the outcome is for 2020.

Service User Advocacy Exhibition

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Bethlem’s Museum of the mind has recently put up an exhibition celebrating experiences and voices from the service user and carer community. Part of the exhibition showed my views on why carers should be involved in the NHS and helping to shape mental health services. After all, I have been involved at SLaM for close to 5 years or more, plus I am involved at other mental health trusts and probably counting. The Exhibition opening went smoothly and I have visited the exhibition several times.

Service User Advocacy Exhibition Link

Royal College of Nursing involvement group

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The Royal College of Nursing has taken up the Triangle of Care a policy that aims to connect Health professional, Patient and Carer. The majority of input does come from MH carers as the culture of the health service centers around the patient, this can go double for the mental health system, so a policy from a carers perspective is a welcome result. Due to the RCN taking on the Triangle of Care, other avenues have opened up and one of them is the RCN’s involvement group, which I am a member of.

Royal College of Nursing involvement group Link

Reform of the Mental Health Act Debate

parliament

The reform of the Mental Health Act 1983 has been a long time coming and it was with pleasure to attend the debate of the reform of the MH act over at parliament.  The speaker who led the debate was Neil Coyle MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark (also a carer) . I hope MPs to engage with carers regarding the Mental Health Act as many carers worry the reform act still ignores their concerns.

Reform of the Mental Health Act Debate Link

National MH Nurses director forum at Warwick University

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The National Mental Health Nurses director forum (sorry its quite a long title) is a major event in the stakes of Mental Health Trusts. I was happy to speak at the event and got a chance to meet England’s most senior Nurse Ruth May.

The facilities at Warwick University were excellent and I think I was very spoilt. I spoke about the importance of mental health carers and the influence families and carers can bring to the NHS. For 2020 it will be a very important year for NHS England especially with the promises government will bring to the table and the World Health Organisation’s Year of the Nurse and Midwife……watch this space.

National MH Nurses director forum at Warwick University Link

Trauma Matters event

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I have very close links to the WeCoproduce CiC and have known them for a very long time. It is one of the many Patient and carer forums that has similar aspects to the forums I run.

I have known Jane McGrath for many years and she always amazes me with the sheer dedication and organisation of running national events. Due to the terrible events at Glenfield Tower, many people were traumatised from the incident and it was only a matter of time before West London community asked what an earth is Trauma. I attended part of the Trauma Matters event and you can see my blog about it below.

Trauma Matters event Link

SLaM Annual Trust Psychology and Psychotherapy event

Psychology and Psychotherapy mean a lot to me and as far as I know SLaM runs an annual Trust Psychology and Psychotherapy event. I was happy to speak about the importance of Psychology and Psychotherapy at the event along with a patient I have known for a very long time.

SLaM Annual Trust Psychology and Psychotherapy event Link

Triangle of Care regional meetings (Kent & Medway / SWLSG )

meeting

NHS Mental Health trusts involved in the Triangle of Care policy often meet and discuss regional developments. Since I am on the steering group of the Triangle of Care policy, I feel it is so important to attend such meetings to hear updates on how many of the mental health trusts are working towards the triangle of care and engaging with Carers.

One of the regional events impressed me so much that I blogged about it, this meeting was chaired by Kent & Medway Trust.

Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust host the next meeting, so I am looking forward to how things turn out.

Triangle of Care regional meetings Link

Conclusion

As you can see this has been a busy year for me and I have only mentioned half of what I have been up to as a carer.  Year 2020 looks to be an event bigger year for carer involvement and empowerment and I hope carer engagement to the forums I run continue, because without carers becoming empowered to query how services are, then the family and carer voice goes missing……

Thank you all that believed in me and other unpaid carers.

Carers Rights Day 2019 – Your Rights as an unpaid Carer.

Giving helpWelcome again to another blog for unpaid carers, like myself. My name is Matthew Mckenzie, an unpaid mental health carer in South London. As you are aware at the time of this blog post. It is Carers Rights Day 2019, which gives a chance for unpaid carers to know their rights and helps many organisations promote the cause of unpaid carers.

Each year Carers UK holds Carers Rights Day to bring organisations across the UK together to help carers in their local community know their rights.

However I want to place my thoughts on Carers rights in the UK and why it is important Carers know their rights. This blog post is aimed at unpaid carers who are under a constant battle to be recognised.

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Your right to be heard

First and foremost, if you are new to the caring world, the very first thing you should be aware of is your voice. If you have to take the ‘cared for’ to hospital to the GP or are chasing up on the person you care for’s health, as a carer you have a right to be heard. Unfortunately it is not as easy as it sounds. Many unpaid carers struggle to engage with dragon GP receptionists (not all of them are bad) or are put off by health professionals too busy to hear unpaid carers.

Even if you as a carer are not querying about your ‘loved one’, it might be due to speaking out on what you are going through as a carer. If the carer’s voice is not heard, then you cannot begin the journey to find out more about your rights. Do not be silent as a carer, it is your right to speak out and speak up. Use your voice and request engagement, empowerment and involvement.

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Your right to view information

Not as easy as it seems. You as a carer should exercise your right to view information, whether the information is about the ‘cared for’ or about yourself. There will be times confidentiality will block you from viewing information, but that should not always be used as an excuse. I always go by the rule in ‘The more people involved in someone’s care, the better the outcomes’. If you as a carer feel you are being pushed out of you role, then the risk is the ‘cared for’ might not get the support they need. What is worse is unpaid carers feel they are struggling in their relationship to the ‘cared for’, because the health/social services have a strangle hold on the ‘cared for’s information.

Another reason for carers to query about information is to carry out their role as a carer, if you do not know what you are caring for, e.g. information about the ‘cared for’s symptoms, then how can you cope as their carer? Yes, it is some important that service users have their own empowerment, but to think they do not need any support on their recovery journey could be naive and a risk to the cared for’s health.

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As a carer pluck up the courage to ask for information, if it is explained why you cannot have it, then the services should give justifiable cause, they cannot request that they should not talk to you or ignore you.

Your right to be involved as a carer

This is different in being involved in services, I will come to explain that in a moment. As a carer, there is a risk that health and social care settings can hold meetings or make decisions that can impact on your caring role. As a carer there is a risk that you are pushed out of your role because someone has not taken the time to ask for your input. You as a carer have the right to be involved in the ‘cared for’s health.

If someone you love falls unwell, you have a right to ask what support they will get and have your views recorded. You as a carer do not want for someone to become unwell and have no plan in place for them or yourself. No one has the right to not involve you unless there are specific reasons why you should not be involved, which can be rare. There will always be old and outdated attitudes as why unpaid carers or families should not be involved, but the reasons are usually because relationships have deteriorated, especially in a mental health setting. These issues can and should be resolved.

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If an unpaid carer feels left out then they make walk away or give up caring, which can put the ‘cared for’ health at greater risk in future.

Your right to be Identified

What is worse than failing to being involved in someone’s care? It is not being identified. As mentioned before at the start of this blog post, thousands of unpaid carers are new to the caring role. It is up the health and social care to identify them. Even numbers alone are not always an accurate reflection of the carer’s experience as those who make decisions only see the numbers, but not view the experience of the carers role.

As a carer you will need to push to be identified at the GP via the surgery’s carers register, on hospital patient systems and at social care settings. If you are not identified as a carer then you will miss out on your rights and support under the Care Act 2014. Those who identify carers will speak to them in a whole different manner on how they will speak to the patient.

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If there was a big problem within the NHS, it is identifying unpaid carers, both young and old. Perhaps it could be a culture problem, or lack of carer leads and carer champions, I do not know as yet, but as we are all living longer it means the community has an even greater part to play in order to take the strain off the NHS, failure to do this will cripple the health service.

Your right to a carers assessment

As a carer, once you are identified then it should lead to a carer’s assessment. A carer’s assessment should not be used to scrutinize your role as a carer, but find out ways where you need support. It should not be an excuse to say your caring role is too hard and that you need to get on with your life, do not be put off. Demand that carer’s assessment because it can help plan for emergencies in not just for the patient, but especially for yourself. Take note there are many different kind of carer’s assessment and it does not help that some carer’s assessments are not ‘Care Act 2014’ compliant. What is worse is that carer’s assessment can be used as a tick box exercise where the assessor will quickly mark off carer queries and you won’t hear from them again.

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Many unpaid carers refuse the carer’s assessment because it does not lead to anything and is not relationship forming. Still, it is important you get an assessment so information is recorded about your circumstances.

Your right to employment as a carer

Carers also have the right to take unpaid time off work for dependents in an emergency. Returning to work after being a carer may have an impact on any entitlements and benefits you receive as a carer, but because you are caring for someone does not mean that work should force you to put the ‘cared for’s health at risk. It must take a very hard employer to stop an unpaid carer from rushing to the hospital if the ‘cared for’s health declines, but this does not mean it doesn’t happen.

Your right to complain.

No one likes to be complained about, sometime’s carers do not want to make a fuss at all, it perhaps is in their nature as the role of the carer is to put the ‘cared for’s health first and themselves last. Still, mistakes and misunderstandings do happen. As a carer it is your right to complain. It is also important to complain effectively, there are ways of complain and there are ways to do all that wrong.

There are reasons where a family or carer become angry and aggressive if they feel action is not being taken regarding someone’s health, probably because the carer has been let down time and time again. Eventually the carer may risk developing mental ill health if they are battling a system that is designed to grind them down. As a carer check on Carer’s UK or Carers Trust website or ask if there is a complaint form at your health or social service in regards to an issue.

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It is your right to complain, but please note some complaints can take ages to resolve.

Your right to some financial support.

Unpaid carers are usually caring for free, some people might even think that you should care for free anyway, but this view is incorrect, we all want to love who we hold close at no cost, but when someone’s health declines then we need that financial support to help us through a situation. If one person is caring for someone who is critically unwell, they cannot possibly work at the same time. If there is little or no financial support then expect the unpaid carer and cared for to be looking for their local food bank.

Your right to counselling and therapy.

There is this old view that unpaid carers have no idea on mental ill health, but this view is outdated as unpaid carers experience stress, depression, anxiety and god knows what else. Of course it will not be at the high level’s experienced of the ‘cared for’, but if ignored then you can bet the unpaid carer will be the next patient. Due to poor health pathways (e.g. access to health services), unpaid carers will have little to no support on accessing counselling or therapy.

If you as a carer find yourself going under strain, request support quickly. It is not worth risking your own wellbeing because you are doing what comes naturally in a civilized community ‘caring for one another’.

Your right to network with other carers.

Some people usually ask why I have set up and run 4 carer engagement forums a month voluntary. There are hundreds of reasons I can give, but the number one reason is carers should not be isolated. Unpaid carers need to know what is being developed for them and that they are not alone in their plight to be recognised or hold to account health and social services. Yes, I know NHS Trusts have governors who hold them to account, but then who holds the governors to account? Yes, you have guessed it, that would be the public, patients and unpaid carers. If carers in the community do not come together then it is harder to network and find out what an earth is happening to families and carers, it is harder to find out who is making the decisions and why.

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It is your right as a carer to ask about carer support, engagement and strategy forums in your area and if one does not exist then push for support to set one up. If they refuse then set one up anyway, even if it is at your local pub, which will eventually lead to a strong army of unpaid carers.

  • Weak brought together makes strong!

Your right to hear about your carers rights.

You might think Carers Rights Day would cover all of this, but you would be surprised. The whole point of Carers Rights Day is because there is a lack of awareness of carers rights. Trust me on this, time and time again it is harder to find at a local level your rights as a carer. Why?

Because people do not want the risk of unpaid carers exercising their rights and complaining, but it may not always lead to carers complaining, it might lead to unpaid carers becoming empowered in their role. As a carer you should ask what are your rights? Push for courses at a recovery college about carers rights. Do not be put off and referred to the local carer’s centre, because health and social care should also seek to empower unpaid carers as well.

Your right to be involved in services at ALL levels.

Being involved in health and social care is completely different to being involved in your ‘cared for’s health. I am involved at my local mental health trust at a very high level. Come to think of it, I am involved in NHS England, The Royal College of Nursing, CCG’s and many other mental health trusts. As a carer I use my experience to train nurses, engage with other carers, engage with health commissioner and even visit mental health wards.

Involvement is a tricky issue because unpaid carers do not really have the time, in fact most unpaid carers would like to put energy into planning their future, they are well aware that they cannot be an unpaid carer forever, which is why Carers Trust is tripping over themselves to run a project on getting unpaid carers back into employment and skills support.

Still in the meantime unpaid carers should be involved in health service design, promotion and even delivery via Co-production, which in itself is a whole complex ball game. Unpaid carers should be encouraged to sign up to an NHS trust involvement registry and peer support should be given. We cannot have an NHS system doing things to and for carers without carer input.

Your right to a health check up.

I should have put this further up the list, do to the time of this blog post I had my check up, but unfortunately not as a carer, it was a health check up every 5 years or so. This could be improved upon because unpaid carers are at risk of developing illness due to their role. There used to be a government initiative for carer check-ups, but due to the austerity drive (which has lasted for years) almost so much has been cut, no matter how commissioners play it, there are lack of GP surgeries, lack of tailored health systems and a lack of health staff.

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As a carer, you should have the right to have a check up on your health. Do not neglect yourself, if your health fails then there is a risk that you cannot care for the person you support.

Your right for care planning for yourself.

There was and probably still is a drive at my local Mental Health trust for emergency care planning. This is because not all unpaid carers are alike. Older aged carers worry they will outlive the ‘cared for’ and wish for someone in plan. Still, carers of all ages want someone in place in case something happen to them. Think of it as some form of insurance. I have taken input from members of one of my carer forums and found through my Triangle of Care contacts a good example of carer planning for the future from Birmingham & Soulhil NHS Trust.

https://www.bsmhft.nhs.uk/service-user-and-carer/carers-families-and-friends/planning-for-the-future-and-emergency-planning/

PDF Pack below.

https://www.bsmhft.nhs.uk/EasySiteWeb/GatewayLink.aspx?alId=72346

Your right for education and skills training.

Unfortunately it is really difficult for unpaid carers to get access to education or training, because they will need this for the future or even now to get some financial support. Not all carers want handouts from the government, unpaid carers want to feel empowered and find work their own way, but without skills or training then it is impossible.

Your right to be referred.

Last but not least, as a carer you should be referred for extra support. BUT NOT constantly referred on and on and on in a never ending circle, I would laugh if such a situation was not so tragic.

Most unpaid carers are are referred to their local carers centre, but due to lack of staff and lack of resources, the carers centre can struggle, so unpaid carers should be referred to other means of support.

Conclusion

I got up around 3 in the morning to right this because I feel strongly unpaid carers have a mountain to climb due to knowing their carer’s rights. The ones I have listed are only a small part of what a carer’s right constitutes. If you are an unpaid carer, please exercise your carer’s rights and let other unpaid carers know their rights.

You deserve it.

HSJ Award Ceremony 2019

HSJWelcome and thanks for stopping by. This website aims to raise awareness of unpaid carers, like myself and also raise awareness of mental health. Hence the title of the site “A Caring Mind”. Recently I attended the exciting and prestigious HSJ award ceremony. I wanted to blog a fair bit of my experience there, especially from a carer’s perspective. Before I continue with my view of the ceremony, which was excellent, I want to mention a bit about HSJ Awards and its aim.

A bit of background on HSJ Awards

The HSJ Awards have been celebrating healthcare excellence for 39 years through huge political, technological and financial challenges within the sector. They have many partners, which are The Department of Health & Social carer, their leading partner Geometric Results INC, Lloyds Pharmacy, NHS Employers, Ministry of Defense, NHS England, Freedom to Speak up, NHS Charities together and many more.

Sorry I forgot to mention HSJ stands for Health Service Journal. The Health Service Journal is a news service which covers the National Health Service, healthcare management and health care policy. So you can tell what HSJ covers in regards to health is of major importance.

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The HSJ awards focused on several categories on that night to celebrate the hard work, innovation and dedication across the Health and Social care field.

The categories up for awards I have listed below.

Acute or Specialist Service Redesign Initiative Award
Acute or Specialist Trust of the Year
Acute Sector Innovation of the Year
Clinical Leader of the Year
Community or Primary Care Service Redesign
Connecting Services and Information Award
Driving Efficiency Through Technology Award
Freedom to Speak Up Organisation of the Year
Health and Local Government Partnership Award
HSJ Partnership of the Year
Mental Health Innovation of the Year
Mental Health Provider of the Year
Military and Civilian Health Partnership Award
Patient Safety Award
Primary Care Innovation of the Year
Reservist Support Initiative Award
Staff Engagement Award
System Leadership Initiative of the Year
System Led Support for Carers Award
Workforce Initiative of the Year

As you can tell, from the categories the awards reflected excellence on health services across the country.

My experience at the HSJ ceremony

The HSJ 2019 award ceremony took place at Evolution London, which was once known as Battersea Evolution. The building is massive and has seating up to 2,000 for dinners, I think i does hundreds of ceremonies a year as in conferences, exhibitions, award ceremonies and much more.

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You can find out more about the venue below.

https://batterseaevolution.co.uk/about/

If I was to sum up the ceremony, I felt most welcomed by everyone from experience of care team from NHS England, Carers UK and Carers Trust. They were all so important in the role that they do, even though they probably would be very humble about it. I felt honored to be there.

The food was excellent, the venue staff was very polite and the HSJ team especially Zara was fantastic. I was shocked they managed to get hold of actor James Nesbitt OBE to host the ceremony and I did not expect him to come out singing, James was very professional throughout the ceremony, because there was so many award categories to go through.

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I was also impressed he wore the #NHSThinkCarer band and actually spoke about it at the ceremony.

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Whats it means to a carer when a region wins that award

Going back to the HSJ Awards, I was fortunate enough to be one of the Judges for the Award category on “System Led Support for Carers Award”. I must admit judging the awards was fun, but challenging since the entries were very good, but to be honest my main drive for this blog is what does it mean for carer when a service wins such an award?

I did not really want to just do a description of the award event, I think anyone reading this especially healthcare providers should be interested on my thoughts. I think I wasn’t brought in to judge the entries because I am just a carer, I spend a lot of time engaging with mental health trusts, councils and CCG’s on carer welfare, policies and practices. I am sure some of them are fed up of me poking my nose into their business. Yet my focus is always on the unpaid carers where I am practically covering South London and expanding quickly.

If you look at my website you can see I have been raising awareness from 2014, but even before then I was involved raising awareness of unpaid carers. Its like I have nothing better to do but network carers together and speak as one.

My view on the system led support for Carers award is that it is a challenge to other systems to engages with unpaid carers. Any part of England’s health and social care field focusing on carers should not be a tick-box exercise.

I want to remind unpaid carers to take time and examine why West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership won that award. You can view the Case study in the link below.

https://www.hsj.co.uk/7026205.article

As a carer and an HSJ carer judge, I could not help but compare the entries to local or nearby carer focused systems. I had learnt a large amount of what works for carers and why.

I want to raise this to other unpaid carers that I network with as so to help educate unpaid them of the importance of awarding systems that involve and focus on unpaid carers to the highest standard.

My view is that West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership has thrown down the gauntlet for others to either follow or compete against, but it is not enough for local authorities to do this by following examples from winners. We need unpaid carers to also engage with local authorities and ask…what are you doing for us?

We need unpaid carers to be green with envy when they see how other unpaid carers are supported from HSJ winners and those that entered for that category. It might seem hard asking for carers to poke their noses into Local authority affairs, but why not?

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Does the Local authority seek to involve carers into their systems? Why are some Integrated care systems so quiet? What are they doing and who is leading them? How are carers identified in your area? Are you involved when it comes to Carer engagement? I think carers should find out who or what is running their carers programme and if it is either run of the mill or seeking to make an impact in unpaid carers lives.

The future

I want to see more entries in 2020 HSJ Awards for the carer category, just because pushing for unpaid carer welfare can be challenging, does not mean no one can do it.

I am sure some where out there, there is a region in England that has been quiet on carer engagement for too long and should not be hiding. I think those that entered for the award were all winners in my book and set the standard for others to follow.

Conclusion

I would like to thank everyone who has involved me so far and from my observation they all have unpaid carers at the heart of what they do. If the NHS was to fall over (god forbid), they still would be fighting hard for unpaid carer recognition.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope I have not offended anyone apart from councils or districts who stay quiet on carers.

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