Welcome to my March update of most of my carer forums. These forums are for those caring for someone with mental illness. The idea of the groups is to allow unpaid carers a chance to find out about mental health services. The forums also allow researchers from universities and hospitals to update carers on current trends affecting carers and mental illness.
Lewisham Mental Health carers forum
For this carers forum we were delighted to have Bobby Pratap from South London and Maudsley NHS attend. Bobby is the Director of Implementation for the borough of Lewisham. This means in laymen’s terms that a large investment I guessing around 100 million will be focused on changes to mental health services in the borough.
With that kind of investment, it is vital for patient, carer and public engagement. Bobby comes with a wealth of experience straight from NHS England’s as the Deputy head of Mental health.
Bobby presented the challenges that mental health services face in the borough of Lewisham. He also presented some feedback from engagement events under South London & Maudsley. Bobby was certainly tested by the members of the forum who grilled him on NHS trust resources.
I also presented the new NHS London Hospital discharge toolkit. Since the Carers UK 2021 report, it has been widely known that unpaid carers feel uninvolved in hospital discharge. Carers complain that they are invisible to the NHS. So NHS London carer leads have come up with a hospital discharge checklist
The benefits to involving carers in hospital discharge are
Reduced carer strain and breakdown
Patients less likely to re-admitted.
Caring situation is more sustainable
Better health outcomes for both patient and carer
Reduced overall cost to system
With some Accute hospitals taking the lead, there is hope other hospital will become carer friendly and see unpaid carers as part of the team.
The resource can be downloaded from below via Carers Trust Website
South west London Mental Health carers forum
This forum is facilitated by myself and Ava who is a mental health and carer campaigner. The forum covers the boroughs of Kingston, Merton, Wandsworth, Richmond and Sutton. As a group focusing on mental health carers, we get support from the carer centres and from local Mind and Rethink organisations.
There was no speakers for the group this month, so I presented the hospital discharge carer toolkit. I also covered updates regarding the Triangle of Care.
Joint Southwark & Lambeth MH carers forum
For this group. Carers had a chance to find out what a Mental Health Solicitor does. We were joined by Burke Niazi Solicitors. The solicitor who represented my late mother had engaged with our group to answer queries, issues and questions. The forum was well attended and even some had attended from my other forums.
We were also joined by Lee Roach who is Lambeth’s carers lead for Maudsley adult services. Lee is also the Head Occupational Therapist for Lambeth Operational Directorate. Lee updated carers from Lambeth on services related to triangle of care. I was also interested in how Southwark carer leads were engaging with carers. It might take a while for them to drop by our group since Guys & St Thomas NHS are due to attend next month to speak about their carer’s strategy.
Lastly the group was joined by Guy Swindle who is the Deputy Director of Lambeth Living Well Network Alliance.
Greenwich Mental Health Carers forum
I only run this group Bi-monthly and Greenwich carers heavily supports the group. We get great support from Oxleas NHS and the Royal Borough of Greenwich often attends when they can. For this group we had engagement from Lisa Moylan who is Oxleas head of Mental Health Legislation.
The main reason I asked for Lisa to engage with the forum is to allow carers to understand what the department does, but also get an idea of how the Law department will deal with the new changes to the Mental Health Act. The MP will also chat with carers about their thoughts about proposed bill.
At the group, I updated members on updates regarding Greenwich Carers Strategy.
Some of the updates were
Raising awareness of caring with local employers
Developing a carers self-assessment app
Research with carers from ethnic communities
Further development of the Mobilise digital platform
Exploring feasibility of a Carers Card
There are plans Greenwich carers partnership board to Engage with local GPs and Engage with hospitals. Talking about hospitals, I also presented the London hospital carers discharge toolkit.
Ethnic Mental Health carers forum
This is the only forum that I run that focuses on carers from ethnic communities. It is also a forum that can actually reach out via several mental health trusts as sometimes we get attendees from SWLSTG, West London Health trust, Kent & Medway and CNWL, but the main focus is what South London & Maudsley or Oxleas are focusing on. The group also engages with speakers from universities and researchers. We also can get updates from the local authority or Healthwatch.
The speaker for March was Natalie Creay who is Founder of Liberating Knowledge, she is also on the advisory board of The Lancet Psychiatry magazine and a trustee of The London Community Foundation.
Yes, she does a lot. Natalie spoke to us regarding health inequalities of Black and Asian people. Her research looked at Closing gaps in patient data for Black and South Asian communities.
Through the focus groups and interviews they conducted with healthcare staff. It was found that
- Staff were less confident about describing why data is collected or how it is used
- Staff felt that a lack of people in leadership roles who are committed to tackling bullying, institutional racism and health inequalities
- Some staff also referred to a concern from Black and South Asian communities about whether they can trust the NHS given past harms
- There were innovative ideas proposed such as the NHS being more radical in how it thinks about data ownership and giving more control to people and their communities over their data and the insights generated from them.
It was found that The burden of tackling health inequalities rests on people with lived experience.
There were several recommendations regarding the research, some listed below.
- Create the conditions for systemic change to enable the following recommendations to be delivered by accelerating efforts to eradicate racism within the NHS. This should include developing the cultural and racial capability of the workforce.
- Consider developing a race equity framework for physical health services that draws on the approach used for the Patient and Carer Race Equality Framework in Mental Health services.
- Secure the support and commitment of senior leaders to improve data practices, embed inequalities work and create space for staff to innovate within the NHS.
- Actively challenge ‘hard to reach’ narratives that encourage the perception Black, Asian and minoritised communities are disengaged or unwilling to share their patient data.
- Equip healthcare workers with the tools to hold meaningful conversations about data: explore more innovative approaches that provide engaging ‘bite-size’ learning material targeted at healthcare workers.
This led on to one of our members Brenda who is a member of the Patient Carer Race Equality Framework to report back how Maudsley is using the framework to increase health equality and reduce racism. We also got updates from the Public Health Training and Development Manager for Lewisham who have been working hard to reduce health inequalities within ethnic communities. This was emulated on projects from Bromley, Lewisham and Greenwich Mind Updates.
This concludes most of my carer forums for March.