Category Archives: Carer Events

Review and updates on carer events I attend

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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Black History Month – BAME carers

10177241_747738765268892_5890142387668348507_nThanks for dropping by my website. This blog is usually aimed at unpaid carers and promoting mental health awareness. There will be times I will provide updates from the carer forums I host around South London, but due to limited resources, I just cannot always update.

Going off topic, at the time of this particular post, it is the 28th of Monday October 2019. Black History Month is soon drawing to a close, but there are still plenty of events going on around the UK. I have just participated at the St Andrews Black History conference, which was the first of its kind for the Charity. I am bound to blog a bit more about that when I get some time, however the conference opened my eyes to the challenges of BAME nurses and mental health professionals.

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Still, I thought that this is not the time to focus on mental health professionals on this post, I want to jot down some thoughts about BAME unpaid carers. I know one of my forums is focuses on BAME families and carers, but to understand why I decided to set up that forum in Lewisham, it would be a good idea to carry on reading.

The struggle of BAME Carers

As an unpaid carer trying to work out my roles and duties. I felt my identity as a carer/BAME needs some highlighting. Even if it seems complex to others on being a Mental Health BAME unpaid carer. Such an identity shows the complexity and issues that I would need to face. Being an unpaid carer working towards being identified can often be a struggle, especially when caring during a crisis, but unfortunately carrying out a role and ones own identity can make matters tricky.

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It is a sad fact that BAME carers tend not to engage much with services. There seems to be some form of distrust as to why their loved one is struggling with health services, especially mental health services. I see there is much change going on and for the better, I notice so many people trying very hard to change things for the better and I thank them for this, but there is still some ways to go.

The issue with BAME carers regarding mental health services is that they can be tired of the same journey. Having to challenge unconscious bias or wondering if they are being judged on their actions or on identity. Sometimes BAME families and carers feel they are being pushed into labelled boxes as engagement policies strive to identify BAME issues.

It does not help that their are also social challenges as well as health challenges within the BAME community, which can make life even harder for BAME families and carers.

If all the above was not tough enough, then BAME groups sometimes suffer from getting specific tailored support due to cultural misconceptions, language difficulties, stigma related issues and unfortunately discrimination.

So with all the above demanding change and attention, what can a BAME carer like myself do?

The power of BAME Carers

The first thing is to raise awareness of these experiences. Ever heard of the quote “A problem identified is half solved?”. Well I am not sure if the quote was said in this many, but it speaks volumes. BAME carers need to unfortunately help in raising awareness, especially of their experiences. BAME carers ought to try and network with other carers, just as some way to reduce the isolation. The more a person becomes isolated, the more they lack that vital support.

Unpaid carers often miss out on social interaction, specifically if the carer is supporting someone with serious mental health illness. It is so important carers recognise their isolation and take steps to counter the loneliness. It is ok to feel lonely, but to stay lonely is not ok.

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As a carer, so much usually goes on in my mind, there probably is not a day that I do not replay my failings and difficult experiences in my head. Perhaps I am too hard on myself, but at least I am slightly aware that I need that support. If you are a BAME carer, do yourself a favour and network. Phone a friend even if it is just to be heard.

For black history month, I made it my mission to take part in events that celebrate the diversity of the community. As a BAME carer, if you can get out there and speak about your experiences, it can shed more light on the subject of identity. Sometimes it is just on learning about your past and the culture you came from, sometimes we are more than what we do.

You deserve to have your voice and relate to the community, even if its for just that month. Being part of something need not be a challenge, but unfortunately BAME carers need to find somewhere that supports their voice and urges them to be part of the health system. As with BAME carers, we should be encouraged to be aware and celebrate what makes us different and feeling no shame or stigma about it. Deep down thought as carers we are all alike as we experience the same emotion all other unpaid carers go through. Those would be the fear that illness is taking it toll, the joy that we are supporting those we care about and so on.

There is nothing wrong in being proud as a carer, its not an easy role and depending on the MH or health challenges, the struggle of caring should be counted. It is not your fault that the person has become unwell, you are trying the best you can, especially if you are a young carer.

As BAME carers, even though its great to have Black History month boost, celebrate and educate our achievements. It should also be used as a welcoming of all who want to celebrate with us. As carers our nature is to be inclusive of others and we also require others to emulate what we are trying to do, especially healthcare. As carers we wish to see inclusive healthcare celebrating diversity and being proud it if, despite the challenges being asked.

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From what I have learnt from Black History month, which can help in regards to BAME carers is that we wish to avoid being forgotten. There is so much more to be learnt from Black History month, but as a carer the fear is that we could be forgotten as those we care about slip into declining health. It is an awful fearful experience to struggle alone at times and it really helps if someone out there acknowledges our struggle.

Thank you for reading and have a happy Black History Month.

Carers Week 2019 – Connecting Carers

Giving help

Hello all.

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. I am raising awareness for Carers Week 2019.  I am what you know as a mental health carer, an unpaid carer providing support to someone with Mental Health needs. I am not afraid to say this, mental illness is very common and can be quite easy to hide.

However lets not focus on mental health for now, this blog is about carers week 2019. I thought it worth to use my time to promote the cause of Carers Week 2019.

If you want to watch my video blog, please click the video below to play it.

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.

Carers week runs from June 10 – 16th. Carers week 2019 has the theme of “Getting Carers Connected in their communities”….and boy don’t carers need it.

Here are some facts about carers

  • A carer is someone looking after someone close suffering physical or mental health, or even both.
  • There are around seven million carers in the UK
  • Carers save the economy £132 billion per year, an average of £19,336 per carer
  • There are many types of carers, Young carers, Mental Health carers, Older carers, remote carers and more.
  • 68% of young carers are bullied in schools (taken from Carers Trust website)
  • Caring can unfortunately reduce carers ability to socialise and network, carer stigma can make that worse, especially if caring for someone with complex needs.
  • Connecting carers to communities can educate communities about carers, about the isolation and stigma carers can face. A caring community is in everyone’s benefit.

How can you support Carers week 2019?

  • If you are a carer or not, try ask what your MP is doing to support Carers in your area?
  • You could try speak at an event, or attend an event about carers.
  • If you want to keep it on the down low, try educate yourself about carers week, check out the carers week website Carers Week 2019
  • You could also Make a pledge on the Carers Week website.

Anyway I hope to do more video blogs soon, lots to do and say, and lots to say and do. Promotion of carers, mental health, psychology and psychiatry and the NHS can be so important.

 

Carers week 2018

Carers_Week_2018

Hello everyone welcome to your new blog for Matthew McKenzie a carer from South London. Now as of this blog it is carers week 2018. Carers Week is an annual campaign to raise awareness of caring, highlight the challenges carers face and recognise the contribution they make to families and communities throughout the UK.

For this year carers 2018 looks to address caring in the community as where carers can come connected to the community and also keeping carers healthy. It is quite common to know that carers can also be isolated and caring for someone that they have known for most of their lives or at least someone special.

We all want a caring Society so that’s why it is so important and continue to address that carers can be connected to the community.

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1. Make sure carer centers are still active in the area so at least carers have a safe space to go and get support and advocacy.

2. Make sure staff are trained to be carer aware and engage with carers and unknown carers as much as possible.

3. If you know of any carers or your close to someone who is currently carer, it does not hurt to give them a call to see how they are doing.

4. A good one is to make a Pledge on the ‘carers week’ website. https://www.carersweek.org/get-involved/pledge-support.

5. Educate carers on how they can keep fit and healthy so in order that they can care for others it is important that carers care for themselves.

6. Reward organisations that make a continued effort to raise the profile and support of carers so it can sit a good example to other organisations for instance GP practices, NHS trusts or councils.

Giving help

It is so important that you raise and continue raise the needs of 6.5 million carers across the country. It is a shame that carers have to Sacrifice so much when their loved ones become unwell. Carers don’t often ask for much so that’s why we should at least give carers some recognition.

Carers week 2017 – Caring Communities

10177241_747738765268892_5890142387668348507_nAt long last, Carers Week is here. From the 12th of June till the 18th of June, there is a week long awareness about carers and what they go through. As far as I know, 8 important charities are engaging to get communities across the UK involved, encouraging people to register events and pledge support in the run-up to Carers Week 2017.

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Mental Health Carers Forum – March 2017

Mental Health Open Forum

Welcome to another blog post from a carer in south London. Just a quick update, one of the projects I am interesting in helping to run is to be involved and help chair carer forums. I am hoping to write a blog at a later date regarding the importance of carer forums, but for now, this blog post is an update from the Carers Lewisham Mental Health Carer forum.

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The Triangle Of Care Conference

10177241_747738765268892_5890142387668348507_nWelcome to another blog from mental health carer Matthew Mckenzie. I have been meaning to do this blog at lot earlier, but unfortunately I have been fairly busy. Since being a carer for over 15 years and perhaps longer regarding my other loved ones. I have tried to make a commitment to engage with other carers and carer charities and organisations.

It just so happens that I was in luck because I managed to attend the Carers Trust Triangle of Care Conference, which took place on the 28th of April 2016. If you are a carer and have not heard about Carers Trust, let me briefly explain what they do?

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Who Cares for the Carer – Event

As a mental health carer, I feel honoured to be writing the first blog for West London Collaborative. I have heard quite a bit about an event regarding Carers of those using mental health services and I was interested on how such an event can impact the lives of carers.

Let me tell you more about the event which is called “Who cares for our carers?”. The event centers on a new mental health strategy called “Like Minded“, which aims to improve mental health and wellbeing across North West London. As with any mental health strategy it is very important to involve all members of the community, but unfortunately with carers it can be difficult for them to get their voices heard and have a strategy on how carers can feel included regarding their views on how they can feel supported and cared for.

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Carers Hub Lambeth Forum

Hi again. Welcome to another blog post by Matthew Mckenzie a mental health carer from Lewisham. It has been a while since my last blog post, I guess I have been so busy as of late. Since its the easter holidays I thought it would be a good time to write up a blog post on an event I go to every so often.

As noted in my other past carer blogs. I like to network with other carers in other boroughs of London and one of the best ways to do this is at carer organisations. One of the carer organisations I tend to visit is over in the borough of Lambeth. They usually have carer forums and on the 15th of March 2016, Carers Hub Lambeth held their forum which explored the use of creativity and relaxation for carers.

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