Category Archives: Carers Lambeth MH Forum

Joint Lambeth & Southwark MH Carers Forum update November 2019

Southwark & Lambeth MH Forum 28-11-19Welcome back to a quick update from another Mental Health Carer forum. This one was a joint forum since due to the election candidates had to cover many areas to campaign and it was harder for them to visit each forum.

On Thursday the 28th of November, we had our Joint Southwark and Lambeth MH carer forum, which was held over at Moasic Clubhouse during the morning. The host for the joint forum was Carers Hub Lambeth who do an amazing amount of work for unpaid carers in the borough of Lambeth.

A bit more about Carers Hub Lambeth. Carers’ Hub Lambeth is an independent local charity based in Brixton, They seek to limit the dilemma’s placed on carers by two key ways. One way is by working with carers directly, and the other by influencing the local services and policies that affect them. Hence this is why we built up the Lambeth MH carers forum, which has been running quite a few years now.

We were also jointed by unpaid carers from Southwark Carers and a bit about them.

Southwark Carers try to make it easier for Carers to have a life outside of caring by 3 key areas, this is by Enabling, empowering and enriching the lives of carers in the London Borough of Southwark. Southwark Carers enabling service is a flexible, individual, personalised service offering support on a one-to-one, plus their empowering service provides carers with information and knowledge of their rights and lastly they help in enriching unpaid carers lives by offering leisure activities or by helping them return to training, education or work.

I was very proud that both groups of unpaid carers came together from both boroughs to be heard on issues affecting carers from the two boroughs.

About the forums

Both Southwark and the Lambeth MH carer forums work the same way as the Lewisham and the Lewisham BAME MH carer forums. The forum is not much of a support group (those are a different and complex animal), they are mean’t to empower unpaid carers who are active in connecting with other carers and the community. The way mental health services are run are complex and also a mystery. These services affect unpaid carers regardless of what anyone thinks. Unpaid carers should be empowered to know what is going on and why. Even then, that is not enough. Unpaid carers should be involved and not be a tickbox or an afterthought.

Where it took place

As mentioned, the joint forum took place at Moasic Clubhouse, which supports people who are living with a mental health condition in the London Borough of Lambeth. Mosaic’s approach is built on the internationally-recognised Clubhouse model , which embeds coproduction between staff and members throughout all activities.

On the day Helen Hayes (candidates for Dulwich & West Norwood in the 2019 general election) visited and engaged with both patients, staff and carer groups to here about the good work they do and listen to burning issues or questions. Helen has been a long promoter of both carer forums and she has visited and engaged with both the Southwark and Lambeth MH carer forums several times already. She works tirelessly to represent the community and often checks up on how things are getting along.

Why it is important to have relations to MPs and candidates

I often felt that carers have a really tough time getting mental health services or the local authority to listen to their issue, which is why when unpaid carers get together, they should have a link to government representatives and a lot more. If there are forces that wish to drown out an unpaid carer concerns, then there is always a risk many would seek to avoid or limit the groups activities. Its not that unpaid carers want to moan or complain, its just they wish to be heard and be counted.

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As a bonus on why it is important for unpaid carers to get a voice in government circles. I have included Carers UK Manifesto on the General Election in the Link below and also Carers Trust’s Think Carer 2019 pledge.

Carers UK Manifesto 2019

Carers Trust 2019 Pledge

Discussions and agenda at the joint carer forum

You will have to forgive me as I completely forgot my notebook, so I did not note anything down.

I had built up the forums to help empower unpaid carers, so I was really happy to see another carer chair such an important meeting and I really hope many will talk about how impressed they were with her.

Helen briefed us on how Labour will strive hard to get the unpaid carer’s voice heard. Labour will strive to work on the Mental Health Act 1983 amendments, but she also mentioned that through years of austerity services had struggled, which in turn lead to difficulty in unpaid carers lives.

I mentioned to Helen my role at the Royal College of Nursing due to the amount of pressures placed on student nurses and nursing in general, we really hope the government will seek to support not just patients, but nurses and unpaid carers. The NHS has taken blow after blow due to lack of foresight and lack of investment, although the intention has been good, intention alone is not enough and too often the social care angle has been kicked down the road.

I have also added RCN’s Safe Staffing Saves Lives link below.

Safe Staffing Saves Lives

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Up for discussion was also the impact of the Care Act 2014 as many unpaid carer was left wondering, what difference has it made since more services were drawn into the local authority and grassroots carer charities have been striped of their power, were funding has been cut and staff at carer centers told to do more. From what I have noticed, it has been a complex web of bureaucracy and deceit where heads and directors of social care are not engaging with groups and make decisions without hearing the stories of those affected by those decisions.

Many unpaid Mental Health carers are wondering what bite does the Care Act 2014 have, when very few are aware what it is meant to do, which probably it is aimed to highlight and protect carers rights.

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There have been situations and stories where the Local Authority gang up with mental health services and push the family or carer out of involvement for the cared for. It is like the carer is not a professional in their own right and the law see’s it that way. Nevermind the peer support, services can and often collude with each other to drown out the struggles the carer or ‘cared for’ may have, which is why we as a group look to the politicians to not only represent us at government, but bring us along in the journey.

If things go wrong or nothing gets settled, then we carers are a patient lot, but we must try and try and try again using different methods.

Lambeth Carers Strategy

Up also for debate was the Lambeth Council’s Carer’s Strategy and how things were forming on the councils responsibility to its unpaid carers.  I have always been a firm promoter that local authorities engage with carers on what they are doing for carers.  It is not enough to assume strategies are too hard or complex for unpaid carers to get involved in.    Even if the carers strategy does not amount to much, at least it raises awareness of unpaid carers and is a way to hold the council to account.  There will be an update on Lambeth’s Carer strategy next year, but I am interested on how other council’s strategies are developing or if they are non-existent.

Lambeth Healthwatch

One method was through Healthwatch, which works to ensure local people’s voices count when it comes to shaping and improving local health and social care services. As with Lewisham Healthwatch, the joint forum was joined by Lambeth Healthwatch due to the proposal of the closure of Lambeth hospital.

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The discussions were well thought out and there was alarm among unpaid carers about the distance and proximity of services moving to Southwark. Even when Lambeth has very high rates of mental illness in the borough we feel there has not been the paper trail of consultations and get the feeling that the Lambeth hospital closure is a done deal. Many still understand that the hospital is not fit for purpose, but cannot understand why Southwark is slowly draining access to services away from Lambeth.

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There was a lot more in the discussion, which unfortunately I cannot remember now, but Lambeth Healthwatch will certainly take this back to the council and CCG. We await updates in the new year. We as a forum continue to seek a relationship with the Healthwatches and other parties including the CCGs, we do not want to make life hard for the decision makers, but we do need to be involved, empowered and heard on specific issues and queries.

No matter what government gets in power, we as unpaid carers will strive to get our voices heard due to the nature of our cause and struggles. It is only fair that what we do for the love of our ‘cared for’ and the ‘community’ that we should not be ignored.

Lambeth MH Carers Forum update October 2019

20140710_143445Welcome to the October update of one of the 4 carer engagement forums I either promote and chair. This particular forum is over in Lambeth and kindly hosted by Lambeth Carers hub.

Carers’ Hub Lambeth is an independent local charity based in Brixton. They are there to relieve the stresses experienced by unpaid carers who live in or care for somebody living in Lambeth. This also includes those carers trying to care for someone suffering from mental illness, although I will use the term suffering lightly since some service users feel there is strength in at least fighting through mental health.

The Lambeth Mental Health Carers forum is a platform for carers to come together, discuss and engage with services. It is important for unpaid carers to have that relationship with community, social and mental health services. Carers need to have that space where they are empowered to ask why certain service provision is the way it is.

Most times unpaid carers are satisfied with the answers they get. Other times, such answers lead to more questions and some questions might even go so far to be quite complex. It is not enough for unpaid carers to tell their stories time and time again. Carers should be encouraged to point their noses into things that affect the carer’s journey.

For the October forum, we had Rebecca Martland visit us. She is doing a Research project on ‘Feasibility of high intensity interval training in improving physical and mental health in inpatients with severe mental illness’. Yes, it is a long title, but the project is critically important because so many patients suffer from physical ill health due to inactivity and having difficultly finding someone to provide mentoring in physical health training.

Rebecca Martland who is a researcher from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience leads on this research. The IOPPN is a research institution dedicated to discovering what causes mental illness and diseases of the brain. In addition, its aim is to help identify new treatments for them. Rebecca also works for South London & Maudsley, where the IOPPN is in partnership with SLaM.

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Rebecca  wants to run more Focus groups with inpatients with SMI, carers of patients with SMI and staff to scope perceptions of attitudes and practicalities of the HIIT study.

It was great for Rebecca not only to have attended the Southwark MH carers forum, but also engage with carers from the Lambeth MH carers forum in the same month, which I admire greatly. I was happy to also hear some carers have signed up to her focus group to give ideas on the research.

The forum then spent some time going through last month’s minutes, which had been drawn up by James Holdcroft from Carers Hub Lambeth. James had done a brilliant job recording difficult meetings and helping us members keep focus on issues raised.

We discussed a few things from the minutes, one being the consultation on what will happen to Lambeth Hospital, others discussions where on SLaM’s patient record system and also discussions about carers assessments and tracking the numbers of unpaid carers in the borough Lambeth.

Next up at the Lambeth MH carers forum was Robert Stebbings the Policy and Communications Officer from Adfam. Robert was here to update the forum on the work Adfam has been doing throughout the year, specially with families and carers.

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Adfam is the national charity working to improve life for families affected by drugs or alcohol. They work heavily with families caring for someone affected by drugs or alcohol. Their vision is allowing those affected by addiction to have the chance to benefit from healthy relationships, be part of a loving and supportive family and enjoy mental and physical wellbeing.

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Adfam do a lot of campaigning and policy work. Off their site it was amazing to see how many groups their CEO was working with, those being.

  • The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs
  • Commission on domestic and sexual violence and multiple disadvantage
  • Mentor-ADEPIS steering group
  • Safer gambling campaign advisory panel
  • Manchester Metropolitan University’s substance use and end-of-life care steering group.

One of the members of the Lambeth MH Carers forum had even been involved with Adfam visiting parliament to discuss the latest initiatives on addiction, which I was very proud to hear carers working hard to be heard.

Robert spoke about the difficulties Drug, alcohol and addiction can cause to families.

Those being

  • Financial Impact
  • Constant worry and anxiety on families affected
  • Bereavement, especially when addiction leads to someone taking their life
  • The problems of trust and denial.
  • Isolation
  • Impact on wellbeing and health
  • Feeling no light at the end of the tunnel
    ….and other life-changing impacts on families.

Robert also explained to the forum about the issues of stigma, which goes hand in hand when someone is suffering from addiction, as although addiction is recognized as mental ill health, a lot of people still see such behaviour as a matter of choice.

Plus he discussed what Peer Support and Advocacy groups Adfam have been providing and how they work.

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We were told how families and carers felt the following issues were a difficult path to navigate being,

Confidentiality
Loved one not honest with professionals or the nature of their problems
Service cuts and configurations
Plus families having to keep pushing the benefits of care involvement to professionals.

You can find out more about Adfam from their link below.

https://adfam.org.uk/

The members of the Lambeth MH carers forum discussed how the Carers UK conference went and were pleased I had a presence there. There was a request that I do a presentation on engaging with GP’s. The members are also very excited about next month’s visit from by the MP Helen Hayes. They probably are interested in what is being done for mental health in the borough of Lambeth and updates on how the borough of Lambeth & Southwark is supporting unpaid carers.

Lambeth ‘Carers Voices’ September update

Thanks for stopping by my carer website. This is an update from the Lambeth area. Did you know that Carers Hub Lambeth has several forums? I managed to attend their ‘Carers Voices’ forum which is held at We Are 336 in Brixton on Thursday Sept 19th 10.30 am – 12.00 pm.

So what is Carers Hub Lambeth?

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Carers’ Hub Lambeth is an independent local charity based in Brixton. They are there to reduce the stresses experienced by unpaid carers who live in or care for somebody living in Lambeth. They advocate, refer and provide a wellbeing and empowering resource for carers in the borough.

For the Carers Hub Lambeth forum, we were joined by Stephanie who is busy working on Kings College NHS trust’s Carers strategy. As you know that NHS trust is massive with at least several other hospital sites from the Princess Royal University Hospital in Kent to King’s College Hospital Clinics in the middle east to along with a wide range of NHS services, some I have listed below.

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Acute and emergency care
Critical care, radiology and MEP (medical engineering and physics)
Dental
Haematology and precision medicine
Liver and renal
Neurosciences
Pharmacy
Planned surgery, ophthalmology and optometry
Post-acute, planned medicine and outpatients
Theatres and anaesthetics
Therapy, rehabilitation and allied clinical services
Women’s health

and much more…..

However something critical is missing? Although not all patients may need family support, there is a lack of focus on how the NHS trust involves and incorporates carers. This is why Kings College NHS trust has been engaging with carer groups and forums from Lambeth to Southwark. I was amazed Stephanie from Kings remembered me when she used to work for Lewisham Healthwatch, since I spend a lot of time engaging with the healthwatches (I am sure they must be fed up for me). Still, this is great news that a hospital has managed to employ someone with such a strong engagement background.

We had many detailed and focused suggestions from carers at the forum. Plus we were provided with how the Trust looks to take on the new Carers Passport, which helps to identify carers and gives access to other resources that are useful for families and carers. Guys & St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust also provide the carers passport, but might be developing a few other things for families and carers.

After the consultation, the forum were presented with updates from the Lambeth PPG network. We looked into the use of online appointments and digital health applications. There was a good discussion on how carers can influence their GP surgery to provide better engagement and support for carers providing support to a patient.

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It is important carers query how GP surgeries are doing in the borough of Lambeth and if the doctor’s practice even have a Patient Participation Group. This concludes my update for the Lambeth’s Carers Voices forum until the Lambeth Mental Health carers forum

Lambeth MH Carers Forum update August 2019

Welcome to the August update of the Lambeth Mental Health Carers forum. As a reminder the Mental Health carers forums are not primarily focused on discussing mental health benefits, but are aimed at carers supporting those with mental health needs. The forum usually has organisation who either provide mental health services, commission them or oversee the services e.g. Lambeth Council, South London & Maudsley, Lambeth CCG and Lambeth healthwatch besides others.

For the August forum we were fortunate to members and representatives from Maudsleys Older Adults and Dementia Advisory group. They presented to the forum what the group does over at South London & Maudsley and how they work with unpaid carers who are caring for those suffering Dementia, Alzheimers, Parkinson and so forth.

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Before I continue on with a brief update of the work of the older adults Clinical Academic Group, we also had on the August agenda the following.

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Lambeth MH Carers Forum update September 2018

20140710_143445Welcome to the latest update from the lambeth mental health carers forum. The Lambeth mental health carers forum seeks to engage and involve carers who provide care and support to those with mental health needs. When I say mental health carers I am talking about those who are unpaid, I am not talking about care workers.

 

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Lambeth MH Carers Forum update August 2018

Here is the update from the Lambeth mental health carers forum for August.

The forum runs every last Thursday of the month. The forum is aimed at unpaid carers who are supporting someone suffering from mental ill health. The forum gives a chance for carers to discuss strategy, become empowered and engage with services.

The forum helps bring involvement out into the community, we also seek to network with other carers and track what is happening to carers welfare in the borough of Lambeth.

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I had a bit of a break this month from charing because we had two new chairs for the August form.

For the month of August, We were lucky to have liason Staff member Tim Allen from SLaM presenting on caring for someone with depression. Tim also told us more about his role and how their team engages with those suffering from mental health crisis.

It was interesting hearing about the inspirations and challenges the mental health team were going through. Tim had a lot of knowledge to pass on and I’m sure the group had benefited from his wisdom.

For the second guest invite, Victoria Cabral from Black Thrive replaced Denis O’Rourke from the CCG, as Denis cannot attend this month but will attend a future forum instead. Victoria mentioned several reasons why ‘Black Thrive’ are active in the borough of Lambeth.

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Here are some of the reasons below

– There is a high rate of black people using the mental health system in Lambeth

– The death of Sean Riggs has shocked the community in Lambeth and things have to change.

– Due to the High representation of black people using the mental health system, there also seems to be a lack of black people taking advantage of mental health services at an earlier stage.

– We need more involvement for black people to be helping to shape mental health services rather than just being the recipient of Health Services.

You can find out more information from their website below.

https://www.blackthrive.org.uk/

There were other things discussed, like trying to keep slam staff motivated and making sure SLaM keep good staff at the NHS Trust.

We also discussed carer experiences at Lambeth Hospital, plus how the trust should be trying to work within the principles of the Triangle of care. A good part of the forum looked into trying to care for someone who does not want to engage with mental health services, which many unpaid carers can experience.

The problems of lack of staff and lack of services or end up putting pressures on families and carers, it was mentioned that it is vitally important carers get a voice and speak up about their difficult role.

Lambeth MH Carers Forum update June 2018

20140710_143445Here is the update for the Lambeth mental health carers forum held over at 336 Brixton road. This forum alternates in time, so that carers can I do attend during the daytime or evening.

For this particular forum we had two people engaging with the members. The first being Steve badger who is the clinical lead for the Lambeth home treatment team. Home treatment teams are very important in regards to introducing is service user or patient back into the community, but how does this work with families and carers?

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Steve badger explained how the home treatment team worked. He took time to talk about the structure of the home treatment team over in the borough of Lambeth. A lot of discussions centered back onto the “place of safety ward”, this is because a lot of the members were interested in how people were introduced to the service especially in Crisis.

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As usual bed management was often talked about at the forum because there’s a lot of worrying on how patients are introduced to the service not just on me how they end up back into the community. A fair bit of discussion was on consent especially when the patient ends up back home with the family how would the home treatment team engage with the carer?

Steve kindly explain other useful support which carers or patients can use especially the 24-hour Slam helpline and also using the “Living Well network”. There was also some discussion on the new structure changes wear Slam is going back to Borough based services. We look forward to hearing more about the new structure in future forums.

The next speaker at the june lambeth mental health carers forum was Bobby Allen from “carers 4 carers”.

Carers 4 Carers is a charity group set up in Lambeth to offer care services for those who themselves care for their disabled, sick and elderly loved ones. Carers 4 Carers was set up by and is run by Carers and ex Carers. Who want to use their skills and experience of caring to support other Carers.

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Bobby explained how carers get together and exchanged ideas we found out that “carers 4 carers” is a great place to relax socialize and network with other carers. The Lambeth charity is running several initiatives one of them is called “inspirational champions”, which looks at confidence building. Another project is called “Viva”, which concentrates on carers you are over 50 and allows them a chance to exercise and go on trips. The charity has one funding from “Sports England” in order to get more carers to become active.

Carers 4 Carers have been running sessions at the Oval and Dulwich Sports Centre. The charity is based at Brixton recreational centre. You can find out more about Carers 4 Carers at the following link http://www.lambethforestnetwork.org.uk/carers-4-carers/

Next was a discussion on the recent Slam Carers listening event. This took place on the 27th of June 2018 over at Coin Street Community Centre in Lambeth. To make it easier have broken down the discussion into bullet points

  • Those who attended liked the main speaker who was speaking about planning for the future and where interested in the pack provided by Birmingham & Soulihill NHS Foundation Trust, which led to a discussion on its content and the empowerment carers got to implement changes with support from the Trust, clinicians and Council.

 

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  • They also enjoyed the workshop so especially on confidentiality and being shown in the short film.
  • Some felt the medication workshop with was good but a bit too presentational.
  • Although I could not attend in the afternoon I heard a lot about what people thought regarding the panel of question and it was good to see the chief exec attend.
  • We felt it was a shame that few carers from the borough of Lambeth could only attend.
  • Plus the events seem to lack a way to discuss on tables with carers and staff.
  • Some felt that the confidentiality film was a bit too staged.
  • One carer was unhappy that her question was not asked during the panel debate.

Moving away from the recent carers listening event, I updated the Lambeth carers forum on a new carers support group being set up over at Lambeth Hospital. We hope that the carers support group can link into the Lambeth carers forum. In regards to other updates for the Lambeth mental carers forum is that members are looking forward to updates from Lambeth Healthwatch, updates from health Locker advisory board meeting and one of the Lambeth MPs attending the Forum in future.

This concludes the update for the Lambeth mental health carers forum for June 2018.