Welcome to february’s Southwark & Lambeth MH carers forum update. This forum is aimed at those who care for someone with a mental illness. The forum gives families and carers a chance to understand the complexities of mental health and social care services.
For February, we had the following speakers who were kind enough to have a chance and engage with carers, even if it ended up as a friendly debate. Although the forum represents Lambeth & Southwark carers, membership is open to many carers outside those boroughs, because I feel carers should network, connect and learn from each other.
The following speakers for February were.
Lee Roach who is the SLaM’s Occupational Therapist and carer lead for Lambeth inpatient wards
Rebecca Martland who is a PhD Researcher and Physio engaging with carers on the High intensity treatment exercise
Sam McGavin & Sophia Stevens from Southwark Council developing Southwark’s carers partnership
Annette Davies who is a carer working towards developing stronger networks to carers including a BAME carer group.
Welcome to the January Southwark & Lambeth joint Mental Health carer forum. The forum is aimed at carers who are caring for someone with mental illness, but they want to understand what mental health services are planning and also what carers can get access to.
For the speakers for this forum, were as follows.
Josh Simpkins – Lambeth Carers
David Meyrick – SLaM Southwark inpatient ward carer lead – Triangle of Care
Karen Persaud – Carer rep for the Royal College of Psychiatrists
Here is the brief update of the October Joint Southwark & Lambeth Mental Health carer forum. This is one of the five carer groups that I run per month. The carer forum is an engagement & empowerment group for carers to learn more about mental health services and at least query what is on offer.
SOUTHWARK HEALTHWATCH UPDATE
As usualy the group is supported by the local mental health trust South London & Maudsley, we also had southwark healthwatch in attendance as well as both Southwark Carers and also Lambeth Carers. Lastly both the engagement leads of Lambeth & Southwark CCG were to be in attendance, although only Southwark CCG could make it, due to Zoom blocking Lambeth CCG. It must be noted that the 6 CCGs are now merged into NHS southeast London clinical commissioning group, so its not always clear who is from what (more on that later).
The forum was co-chaired by carers Ann Morgan (Lambeth) and Annette Davis (Southwark). Our first update was from Southwark Healthwatch who are interested in the experience of those waiting for hospital treatments, like for surgery or chemotherapy, anything in a hospital. Southwark Healthwatch are doing that through phone interviews or online chats in a group, whichever people feel the most comfortable with. They just want to hear from as many people about how waiting times in hospital has impacted them, and what could be improved. Southwark Healthwatch are also interested in how the waiting times affect mental health and I suspect on how badly covid-19 is affecting waiting times in hospitals.
Members are very interested to see the outcome on feedback from Kings Hospital trust and Guys & St Thomas hospital trust on waiting times.
LAMBETH CARERS UPDATE
Ann morgan then introduce Josh Simpkins from Carers Hub Lambeth to talk more about the Lambeth Carers Card, which came from the Lambeth carer’s strategy. Josh mentioned that they made a recording of the launch, which is on their website, YouTube channel and facebook. Although at the joint forum he was going to do a bit of an introduction and background on the scheme itself.
The card scheme itself helps with emergency planning for carers, which is especially prevalent today due to the covid-19 situation. Josh also talked about how the schemes template on how a carer can use the template as a process to quickly make use of resources if the usual carer resources were unaccessible.
Josh talked more about the carer’s strategy, but members are hoping to hear from Polly on any developments for carers in Lambeth. There is still a hint of jelously from myself as I feel Lewisham has a way to catch up in regards to a carers strategy, what impressed me futher is the strategy is taking shape even during covid-19 as the Lambeth carers care helps protect against dwindling resources. A governor at the forum actually asked if the card was either Southwark and or Lewisham, but unfortunately its only for carers in Lambeth. We can only hope the other boroughs can emulate the successes for carers in Lambeth.
Ann Morgan queried if there will be a card for young carers, which was an excellent question since young carers can be forgotten when it comes to developments and projects. I personally think due to the lack of young carer empowerment groups, its harder for young carers to get a voice, so its often older carers who may try and speak up for young carers. Josh from Lambeth carers hub mentioned they were brain storming ideas to help young carers in Lambeth and so we should watch this space.
Josh did mention another thing regarding young carers is that when he went in with, with his colleagues into Lambeth schools. They found that young carers wanted space to get away from their peers and connect with other young carers in a different space, rather than just the other pupils in the school. There was more to this than connection purposes, but it certainly was a start on the needs of young carers. Josh mentioned there certainly was discrimination on young carers at school, which many at the joint forum were aware of.
It was also mentioned from the Southwark Carers inpatient lead that what strikes them is that the carers card links everything together. Although there will be times when obviously, the carer is overloaded and might not know where to look, but its really impressive as the Lambeth carers card puts everything together. He hopes we could do something similar in southwark because he feels there are lots of pockets where carers cannot find resources, so it would be great to get everything under one avenue.
SOUTHWARK CCG – South East London Clinical Commissioning Group UPDATE
Next we had Bola Olatunde from the Southwark CCG group engage with carers on how they were working to support mental health and carers in the 2 boroughs. Bola first explained that there is no Southwark CCG anymore. They became NHS SE London CCG from the 1st of April 2020. So they were Southwark CCG up until the 31st of March, then six independent CCGs came together and then joined as one NHS southeast London CCG from the first of April. Those were Southwark CCG, Lambeth CCG, Lewisham CCG, Greenwich CCG, Bromley CCG and Bexley CCG. As of the summer, the South East London Clinical Commissioning Group has been heavily supporting the carers groups since I am active in Lewisham, Greenwich, Southwark & Lambeth, although there are plans to expand BAME carers in boroughs I am not active in, depends on my time.
Bola explained the to carer forum that they are now borough teams, but we don’t have six CCGs anymore. So they are the southeast London CCG. Bola was here to just to let us know that the team is still here and if any updates or developments are taking place then they will seek to engage with us. Bola posted some information in the chat box of ZOOM to raise awareness for the flu vaccination if people are eligible and to to remind them to book their appointments with a GP practice or local pharmacy.
There were a lot of questions from the group members on the nature of the new CCG structure and who does what within the new development.
SOUTHWARK CARERS UPDATE
We had an update from Mary Jacob who is the chair of trustees from Southwark Carers and also a carer, she updated the joint Southwark & Lambeth carers forum on what Southwark Carers is doing. Mary mentioned that at the moment, Southwark Carers at looking at their premises and how they are going to continue giving the best services that they can under the restricted funding they are having. Southwark carers still need to get confirmation with Southwark about how much funding they are to receive and when they are going to be funded till.
Southwark carers are at least very grateful for the support they are getting so far. Currently Southwark carers are continuing with their services to all ranges of carers in the borough. Southwark carers are in partnership with a fair shares Co-Op, so they are still providing food parcels to the carers who win the most who are in the most need. Southwark carers are also still providing online activities, including exercise classes, salsa classes and also a film club. The last film that was shown during Black History Month, was the film Black Panther. The Film Club not only provides the film a source of entertainment and social contact for carers.
They are also going to continue with their cultural events right the way through the year, not just in October, they have a program of events that’s now being finalized, including sharing different recipes from different countries and different festivals including celebrating Diwali, celebrating Hanukkah, celebrating all the different cultural festivals.
Southwark carers are also going to have mindfulness classes online and they are looking at how to reach carers that may be find it difficult to get onto zoom.
Another Southwark Carer trustee present at the Joint Southwark & Lambeth forum mentioned that lots of carers aren’t IT proficient and it is documented that carers are to face real challenges in regards to finding time for self care.
So with self care being much of a priority and looking at the 360 overview of carers responsibilities, southwark carers are having to look at how they are revising their service to actually be more accessible in light of covid-19.
UPDATE FROM SOUTHWARK INPATIENT CARERS LEAD
We then had an update from David Meyrick the inpatient ward carer lead for Southwark under South London & Maudsley. Currently he mentioned they have taken steps regarding wards and have revisiting them such distance measures. They have found that there was different arrangements across the wards that were visited and they were just concerned that might be a little bit inconsistent, especially if you had a loved one readmitted and found it difficult to visit the ward. So SLaM have taken the steps forwards across the five wards that obviously needs to be booked in this way, it makes things a lot safer. So the staff can facilitate two visits a time but in the same bubble, is keep it safe that way. David thinks it’s been working well, so far.
David is aware that some inpatient wards are reluctant to do this, because its not always possible to just spontaneously support the patient and the visitor. however he feels it’s just in the best interest of all. So crisis support is working well. Plus they have set up virtual cave surgeries towards information provision, inside work, and, and running cameras to support carers and patients. They have a monthly, a weekly support group that runs and I’m sure and that’s providing emotional support and peer support that carers need.
Annette co-chair of the joint forum and carer herself mentioned that since she started working with David carers attend the group regularly every week. Annette felt she can actually see the difference and what the most significant things for carers is they want to be heard.
UPDATE FROM LAMBETH HEALTHWATCH
Lastly we had an update from Lambeth Healthwatch in what they have been doing since the last meeting.
Mental health of young people
Transition of young people with mental health needs and learning disability. We are looking into the transition pathway for three cohorts of young people: young people known to Children and Adolescents Mental Health Services (CAMHS); young people who have complex needs known to SEN team; and young people who have social and emotional issues not meeting the criteria for secondary care or not accessing service. We will interview young people, their carers/parents, and health and social care professionals. We will also hold focus group discussions with different groups of young people.
Young people’s mental health and emotional wellbeing needs assessemnt – We are in the task and finish group of Lambeth Made. The group will investigate and analyse mental health needs of young people in Lambeth. This assessment will go beyond reviewing existing need but will also look at the protective and risk factors that influence mental health, modelled on a life course approach from maternity through to young adulthood. The findings of this assessment will feed into an overarching strategy to transform the offer of mental health and emotional wellbeing support we provide to CYP and their families; focusing on promotion and prevention, right through to specialist provision, seeking to uncover and address any unmet need. This needs assessment will replace the joint needs assessment carried out by Lambeth and Southwark Public Health Team in 2013/14 and will be informed by The Young Lambeth Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health Strategy and Plan 2015-20.
Campaigns regarding world mental health day
Lambeth Healthwatch hosted an event to mark World Mental Health Day 2020 on 7th October which was well attended. They will be hosting more of these regular online events which are open for anyone to attend.
There will be a Webinar next week on Wednesday 4th to mark National Stress Awareness Day.
I asked if they was any updates from Lambeth HW MH lead.
Lambeth Healthwatch responded that there is ongoing work with Lambeth Hospital to support staff and service users with the move to DBH. Planning some remote engagement sessions in November. The sessions will be aimed at understanding the views of hospital staff and service users on the development of Lambeth Hospital.
Lambeth Healthwatch are also involved in several projects looking at maternal mental health and the impact of Covid pandemic. In particular, they are working with King’s College Hospital and partners from different organisations to access women who are expecting or have given birth during the pandemic.
Lambeth Healthwatch are supporting the Adults Safeguarding Board in planning a workshop to mark Adult Safeguarding Week 2020 on 19th November 2020. The event’s theme is Safeguarding in our Community and will explore how we assess safeguarding issues in a digital world.
The last update from Lambeth Healthwatch is that they are supporting the Care Quality Commission to promote its campaign. They will interview six service users (2 people with learning disability, 2 older people, and 2 carers) from which they will write case studies and record a short video of each service user’s experience. They will also ascertain the success of the campaign after publishing the videos.
This is the October update from my Joint Southwark & Lambeth MH carers forum. If you are caring for someone with mental ill health in Lambeth or Southwark, check out the next dates of this carer forum at the following page.
Welcome to the august update of the Joint Lambeth & Southwark MH carers forum. This forum is run online due to covid-19 restrictions. The forum is aimed at those who are caring for someone with a mental illness. It is important carers understand what the mental health, health and local authority services has set aside for them and their loved ones.
For the month of August we were delighted to have John Lavelle the service director for Lambeth mental health services. We were also joined by Lee Roach who is the Head Occupational Therapist for Lambeth. In attendance were the carer members from both Southwark & Lambeth, Healthwatch Southwark and the chair of trustee’s from Southwark Carers.
The maim talking point for the August meeting was the Lambeth Hospital consultation. John spoke about how they want to improve the quality of the inpatient wards so that they can meet the most basic needs of the clients/patients. John stated that SLaM are committed to supporting people who are in distress because of their mental illness, they have an opportunity to build a new purpose, new mental health unit and SLaM are planning around how can they can make the service sustainable essentially for the future. I could certainly say most if not all members agreed with what John said.
It is well known that there has been number of periods of consultation for 12 weeks between March and May 2020. In the presentation to the forum from John, there were 2 options. Option 1 being that nothing is done about the state of Lambeth hospital or Option 2 where SLaM looks to relocate 4 acute wards and the Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) to a new purpose-built facility on the Maudsley site, Denmark Hill.
There was another option to develop a new facility on the existing Lambeth Hospital site, but it failed to meet 2 key affordability tests.
These were that the option required additional capital of between £30 million and £35 million due to additonal infrastructure and loss of capital receipts, coupled with a need to decant at least one ward to the Bethlem and another to the Maudsley, causing significan disruption.
So eventually planning permission was granted in January 2020 by Southwark Council to replace the existing vacant Douglas Bennett House facility on the Maudsley Hospital site. It was also mentioned in John’s presentation that Service Users, Clinicians and Carers from a number of boroughs attended workshops to help shape the design so that a service user voice was present from the beginning of the design process.
The facility includes 72 acute beds for Lambeth patients across four 18 bedded wards. The wards will be single gender, compliant with modern standards and ventilated with direct unsupervised access to outside space. The facility will also include a Psychiatric intensive care unit and a rehabilitation ward designed to support the needs of these services.
Lastly two national specialist wards, neuropsychiatry and eating disorders will be transferred from the Bethlem Royal Hospital.
The carer forum were then showed their first visual of what one of the rooms would look like.
John Lavelle mentioned the mock ups are designed to give a with an idea what we think the rooms would look like. It is based on the drawings of that the architects came up with so the forum saw then would be things like flooring, textures and colors and even then those things might change.
John showed us what the dining space consisted of. He explained in the dining space there are two gentlemen sitting through the window and to the left is that kind of living space as you will see in the top left hand corner, one of our wards, current dining room on the London hospital site.
The carers forum were shown some figures in where
There were 235 responses regarding the consultation
48 people participated in focus groups and public event
148 responses in the online survey
24 people then also commented on facebook
171,189 were reached through the facebook adverts
12 email responses regarding the consultation
One thing noted was even though SLaM had the intention to have some face to face meetings, they ended up having to move everything to virtual because of the COVID-19 issues. There also was a focus on making sure new services would target hard to reach communities especially those from BAME background who often would feel they were being let down or having to miss out on services.
Of the response to the proposals with about 84 % of responses were being being in favor of the change. Plus of that 64% were positive in the move of the wards to Maudsley.
SLam also did a specific work with a black male group around the consultation, and I found that there needs to be some further work to do around culturally appropriate inpatient clinical offer.
A good example was that one member of that particular group mentioned that the ward looks great, but actually, it’s what happens within that Ward is most important. So John mentioned in regards to BAME communities that maybe we arent getting it right for the moment. There is still a lot of work to do.
There will be a piece of work that is going to start in September, which is going to be supported by black thrive, which then will have SLaM think about what their offer is to black men as an example, when they are using patient services. This is work in progress, but SLaM are committed to that as part of the feedback from the consultation process.
John mentioned that they will be analyzing that the data that they got back done by the trust or by the CCG. And it’s just a bit of worth reminder that the consultation was actually a CCG consultation, because they are the people that ask slam on their behalf to provide the services to Lambeth. So the CCG led on the consultation and now SLaM’s healthcare consulting team is going to do the consultation and they have produced a report on the Lambeth’s Together website.
At the end of the presentation I stated it was an excellent presentation and it always helps when you’re describing something that seems really complex. This is one of the reasons for this forum is to get carers in the community and those who’s going to be affected by those changes to get at least an idea and get a chance to ask queries or comments or even compliments if you think this is something that’s really needed
Questions from the forum members
First to ask queries where representatives from Healthwatch Southwark.
Healthwatch felt it was really interesting to see and wondered if SLaM had like a Lamberth versus Southwark resident breakdown, because they were a bit concerned that maybe less people from Southwark had been heard from because the presentation was kind of titled as like improving services for Lambeth.
Another interesting query was on how wide the consultation going to be? as in numbers wide. A carer queried on is it just the local community because the impression they got from the report is its the local community. Plus it’s a Lambeth hospital and it should go to the whole Lambeth and and what does it now offer to the whole of Lambeth rather than the local area. The carer felt that it seems to present sort of housing project and, and and who’s going to administer that, for instance, who’s going to have The freehold at that particular site?
One other carer stated they came across the survey document in May, but they wasn’t aware then that the there was no provision being made for the Leo Ward and the early onset for psychosis Ward that is currently at Lambeth hospital. They felt according to the one of the therapists from the Leo community mental health team, which has been caring for the person they are looking after. That ward was the only early onset ward in the whole of the country.
The carer felt the ward was fit for purpose when their ‘loved one’ was there and the ward had an en suite bathroom. It was basic, but it was fine. It had an outside exercise area, and it was all on ground level. There was a separate male and female words with communal are. There were separate rooms for visitors to explore and visitors to meet a family members the carer felt that her ‘cared for’ had a good experience in that ward.
We also had another carer talk about their daughters experiences in those wards. The carers daugher did not go into Leo Ward and still the Carer did agree with what was said Leo was a good word. As the carer felt it gave both communal areas and it gave privacy for people as well and they had access to outside to meet each other in for games. The carer concluded that access to outside is important, and they don’t think that can be really possible in the tower block. On the other hand the carer agreed that the other wards are not fit for purpose at all. They’re dreadful!!
I mentioned it was good to hear that there is a push towards engaging the black community, particularly in the sense that certain things are just not quite getting there. I asked John that although he mentioned Black Thrive, I have noticed they are quite active in Lambeth. I continued to state that I’m not sure who’s the lead or use the contact for black thrive in Southwark, so I wondered who is contact overall regarding consultation under black thrive, be good to get their perspective in this forum.
Some contacts were mentioned, but also there might be at some point an opportunity for somebody to come and talk to us about the race equality framework standards that piece of work which essentially, is about assessing SLaM against some standards that have been set nationally.
Southwark Healthwatch mentioned in response to another carer’s concern about a blog they did. They had a previous presentation about the kind of safety of the ward and the architecture where someone asked a question, kind of related to what the carer was concerned about, which is shown below.
John finished up saying that they do have a communications and engagement group that was originally set up to think about the consultation processes and what material they might want to use and who they needs to engage with as part of the consultation processes.
SLaM are moving on the journey of the new build and providing samples and giving sign off really soon. So they will continue to think about how they can keep engaging with our communities in understanding what’s happening with the new build and what they are doing around whether it’s working with black men or whatever the different possibilities. SLam are going to keep engagement for the next few years.
Lambeth Lead for Occupational therapy presents
Lee Roach has been busy and presented a set of initatives regarding carers. Lee admitted that they have a particular challenge in the patient information system. Especially on recording information about carers.
So what they have decided to do in Lambeth is focus one week initially on carers as a is focused week. Lamberth are undertaking a number of different events during that week.
Lee thanked one of the carer members who’s agreed to come and talk to a couple of teams about her experiences as a carer.
When Lee was thinking about what what to do for those carer events, he really felt personally that the biggest impact on himself as a clinician is hearing the kind of narratives of people that his worked with and that usually has the biggest impact in terms of people reflecting on what they’re doing and so changing their practice. So in terms of hearing the experience of a carer, Lee think that’s quite an effective way of actually impacting change.
What Lee want to see as a result of the week’s events is a greater awareness of the resources that are available to carers that staff can refer people onto. Lee also wants to run a greater awareness of some of the resources that our staff can show carers on the wards. There also has been sign off of that they want more carers involved in the involvement register.
Breakdown of events
Lee spoke about the plan of the carer focused events. Where a carer agreed to talk to the to one of their teams on Monday so that’s the low intensity treatment team about her experience.
They are currently working across two sites. While they are working across a number of sites the majority the mental health teams are working on two sites. There will be another carer who will be talking to the team there about her experience on Tuesday afternoon.
The inpatient Lamberth inpatient care his group will meet virtually that started two weeks ago. Where they had 12 people attend that group. One of one of whom was was attending from another country. On Wednesday afternoon Lee is hosting a roundtable talk with possible Lambeth CCG, carers and Lambeth healthwatch. Then on thursday is the Leo ward community carers group. Then on Friday they are launching the ward lockers project from one of the involved carers who has been active inputting ideas.
This concludes the update for the August Joint Southwark & Lambeth MH carers forum. The September forum will have Kings College hospital feeding back updates on their Mental Health strategy.
Welcome to the July update of the MH carers forum.
The forum Encourages carers of those with mental health needs to get more engagement from services and to understand how mental health services work. Carers can also query them and compliment what they feel are going well. In attendance were Southwark Carers trustee, Lambeth carers hub mental health carer support. A few carers especially involved ones. The carer inpatient lead for Southwark and also the Carer lead and head of occupational service lead for Lambeth. The forum was also joined by staff and a governor from Guys and St Thomas to speak a bit about their mental health and carer’s strategy. We also had a young person demonstrate a new online application called “kooth”, aimed at young people.
Lee Roach from Lambeth Lambeth Hospital spoke about updates from Lambeth Hospital. He mentioned to the forum about staff who are carer champions over at the hospital. Staff work in a team effort, but not all of them are occupational therapist by background. Lee mentioned the different roles some of the staff do as some of them are running carers groups, some of them were maintaining carrier information boards.
Some events are being planned over at Lambeth hospital for carers. A recent event had a Junior psychiatrist, and occupational therapist and pharmacist talk to carers about questions that they had about medication and about diagnosis for their loved ones. Previously Lee wanted to establish a Carer champion in each of those six teams that were working out of the the Lambeth area. They made a little bit of progress and two or three members of staff were identified as carer champions with others who were keen to be involved.
They even had a carer champion at community level, but unfortunately COVID-19 hit and services had to be put in lock down and what took place then was that the teams were reorganized and merged to cover services. Service leads were expecting a significant reduction in staff availability. So at the moment they are working to operational crisis levels.
Lee continued to state that for the 21st of August they plan to organize a meeting for carer champions. So they will get members of staff together alongside carers and aim to invite involvement from carers to update them on regarding the COVID period. The event will also share good practice and also to advise the new carer champions about what the expectations are for them.
The Lambeth hospital carer and services lead spoke how important that they make sure that the clinicians are thinking about carers and also to make sure that they are aware of all those people that are involved in that person’s life as much as possible.
It is also important that staff record carer’s details on SLaM’s patient record system so that should anything happen to the patient then the clinicians able to stay in contact with carers. Lee mentioned it is important carers are offered engagement and support plans for their needs, not just the need to services and talk about what some of the needs they might have.
Lee excitedly mentioned the that they are developing some exercise classes for carers. These exercise groups are being organized so that information can get to the clinicians and the carers in Lambeth as quickly as possible. On the 7th of September they are going to organize some events for the community mental health teams in Lambeth to raise the profile of carers and the needs of carers and I’m looking for volunteers and people who are on the involvement register. Lee felt the most effective way of communicating with clinicians about the needs of carers and the importance of involving carers, in the care of their loved ones, is for carers to tell their story and to hear that narrative of the carer’s experience.
The update impressed the chair of Southwark carers who was interested to know more about carer champions. I also raised the idea if Lambeth are looking to employ a Lambeth carers inpatient lead as for what Southwark have. I also wanted to know more about the role of Anna Penn-Carruthers who is a centre lead at Streatham living well centre, she was unable to attend the forum, but will come at a future date. I also wanted to know the situation with COVID-19 affecting Lambeth services.
For some time no carer is allowed on the Lambeth hospital site and that was the same for the Maudsley site as well. So no physical visits allowed. That’s now changed and carers are able to visit. But it needs to be by appointment now they have got rooms allocated on the Lambeth hospital site for the carer’s visits to take place. The thing is COVID-19 has made things much more restrictive. Lee feels the challenges for everyone over this period has been utilizing virtual meeting spaces and in how they are using the software mircrosoft teams. Things are moving back more to where they were before, but they are still very limited in terms of how staff visit people’s homes, organizing meetings and limiting the amount of unnecessary contact.
Next up for the Joint Southwark and Lambeth carer forum was Chanelle from XenZone to speak about Kooth which is an online mental wellbeing community. Kooth gives young people access to a community of peers and a team of experienced counsellors. Kooth is accessible for any young person who lives works or studies in Lambeth from the age of 10 to 26 years old.
The good thing about Kooth is that it is free mental health support, but obviously not a replacement for the NHS or any mental health services. Kooth also has a link of different services that young people can contact when they’re in a crisis, which would be national services, because Kooth is not a crisis service is also something that people can use alongside with those those resources.
Shanelle showed us a quick video about Kooth, which can be seen from below.
After the video Shanelle explained what it’s like to sign up to kooth via a demonstration. She mentioned that when you sign up to kooth that it is very simple. So as shown in the video, it is an anonymous service. So they don’t ask people for their names or their address or anything that identifies them. Kooth only asks for basic demographic data that’s taken such as their gender, their ethnicity and age. And the reason they ask for their age is that they can make the content appropriate to the age of that young person.
Kooth has many different links where one of them allows a young person to look into the different counselors, as they can see different biographies about them about whatever they’ve chosen to speak about. Kooth is available in the boroughs of Lambeth, Greenwich, Bromely, Bexley and Southwark for the ages of 10 to 25.
Staff from both South London & Maudsley and Guys & St Thomas were interested to developing links to Kooth for referring to it as an additional resource.
Guys and St Thomas Carers Strategy
Next up were staff from Guys and St Thomas regarding their carer and mental health strategies. I feel part of the aim of this forum is to allow carers what services, policies and strategies are being done to aid in supporting their role. We were joined by Jackie Waghorn who is their new Mental Health lead for that trust taking over Caroline Sweeney. We were also joined by Sarah Allen who is the Head of Patient Experience at Guys and St Thomas talking about their carer’s strategy.
Guys and St Thomas also sent Nikki who is one of the dementia, clinical nurse specialist on dementia and delirium services and they are inpatient based who their main role is to provide care and support to patients and their carers and staff within the inpatient settings. Nikki spoke about how they support patients by ensuring that staff carry out the principles of the St Johns campaign such as ensuring that flexible working, flexible plans are committed. Other things done are getting out carer surveys out to carers so that they can really understand that they have a voice and staff can understand what carers needs are. The staff normally carry out these carer’s surveys when carers come into the wards to visit their loved ones, and then staff can go through the survey with them. Otherwise, they send out carer surveys via posts and staff collect them.
Next to update the forum was Sarah Allen who is Hear fo Patient experience, she came to talk about the NHS trusts carer’s strategy and carer’s policies that are under review. There are 3 priorities so far which the trust will be looking to review.
1. Providing carer’s network days which are for local residents in Lambeth and Southwark, plus GSTT staff who may also be carers. The aim of these network days is to develop carer’s skills further in sort of key areas is what’s known as key skill stations. So sort of little mini sessions on different aspects of caring for someone. So that ranges from things like providing personal care and mouth care, to things like on dementia and delirium.
2. The other priority is they have a carer’s passport at the trust, but it’s not quite as well embedded as they would like. But really the role of that document is to support staff in understanding and recognizing the role of carers and the part they have to play in terms of the care and sort of providing information and understanding on the condition needs and preferences of the patient.
3. The final priority really is around for GSTT staff. This being that some of their staff are carers and is pretty much recognizing that their own staff do you have caring responsibilities as well often in addition to being parents, for example, that may also have young children that may also have a responsibility. They’re looking after an older parent or somebody else within their extended family or Friendship Circle.
The chair of Southwark carers was interested to hear more about Guys & St Thomas’s carers passport. She was also interested in the networking days.
Next we had Jackie Waghorn speak about her role as the the new mental health lead at Thomas’s. Jackie has been in post for six weeks, so is pretty new and still trying to find her feet in the organization.
She has has come from Croydon, where she was doing a very similar role running health services. Prior to that. she worked in offices and mental health trust for many years, managing crisis and mental health services and working in crisis and mental health services.
Guys and St Thomas Mental Health Strategy
Jackie spoke more about GSTT mental health strategy which was launced on Mental Health Day and the strategy lasts up till October 2022. In developing the strategy, this strategy was devised by her predecessor, Caroline Sweeney. And in devising this strategy, she did consult with a number of different stakeholders, including patients and carers. Jackie was not sure what any of the forum members were involved in that.
What the strategy does and in, in supporting carers is not quite specific, becaue it’s basically divided up into three sections which are patients, people and partnerships. And it really is just thinking about how they can involve carers and how they can support carers in each different section. Jackie is looking to basically develop a group which would oversee policies and things to make sure that mental health is considered in everything that GSTT do. Next we heard from Georgie Smith who has recently recruited into a new role which is Mental Health Improvement lead.
Her role is and the work that I’ll be doing is is carrying out several projects under the name of Lilly Sterner, who was a patient who left a legacy. In those projects she will focus around improving mental health awareness and improving mental health delivery within the trust of guys and St Thomas. Then Paula one of the governors from Guys and St Thomas NHS Trust. She was interested to hear if there was enough support within the community for mental health and also onthe strategies that the trust will be administering?
I was interested in how the trust engages with patients and the public and if there were staff at guys who has a focus on carers. Sarah mentioned that they try quite hard to actually involve patients and carers in sort of the redesign of pathways and redesign of services. This is done via the patient and public engagement team. It was also mentioned that there has been a number of staff trained up to become what’s known as mind and body champions, the Mind Body Program from kings health partnerships, has done a lot of training for keep just staff focused mental health awareness. So they have mental health champions and obviously part of mental health is care awareness. It will be good to see if GSTT can work with the joint Lambeth and Southwark MH carers forum as their new Mental Health lead continues her role, as the forum aims to raise the profile of mental health carers.
Southwark inpatient carers lead update
The last update was from David Meyrick who is the Southwark carers lead for inpatient wards. David reported that all the Southwark Wards are open, were wards that were moved to other boroughs are now back in Southwark. There is other good news that the carer champion roles are becoming more relevant and active. SLaM have also just finished a project on one of the Wards listening in action project. This has been a project to make the ward more family friendly. There has also been an improvement to the waiting area the visiting area.
The waiting room has been redesigned search cordoned off to give a bit more privacy and social distancing plus two families can to visit at once rather than a portable partition so it’s a bit more than welcoming and relaxing area and and also a lot of work on the leaflets and literature produced for carers and help make it more informative and more family friendly from that perspective.
We also had an update from carer peer supporter Annette on how she is co-facilitating carer support groups online and how the peer support role empowers her to support families and carers.
Welcome to the month of June joint Southwark and Lambeth MH carers forum. I usually run this forum at the Maudsley hospital. As a reminder the carer forums are aimed at carers who care for someone with a mental health need. I run around 5 carer groups each month and most of the groups work towards engagement, co-production, involvement, education and querying about mental health and social care services.
The Joint Southwark and Lambeth carers forum runs online due to the corona virus. Carers from either Southwark or Lambeth will need a free application called Zoom either on their computer, laptop or mobile phone to attend the meeting.
For the June meeting we were Joined by Southwark Healthwatch, Lambeth Healthwatch, Lewisham Healthwatch and also Greenwich Healthwatch where they traded ideas about carer projects. We were also joined by the trustees of Southwark Carers, Southwark impatient carer lead and also a carer who is a carer peer supporter. Both SLaM Southwark and Lambeth advisory group carer members attended and we were also jointed by Cllr Jasmine Ali who is Southwark Council’s Cabinet Member for Children, Schools and Adult Care. In attendance was Cllr Danial Adilypour who is the Lambeth Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care and Finally the main speaker to engage with carers is MP Helen Hayes.
Coming off the back of carers week, the forum was interested to hear what Southwark and Lambeth council had been doing for carers in both boroughs. First we heard from Southwark Healthwatch from all the work they have been doing to highlight the situation unpaid carers face in the borough.
Southwark Healthwatch update on carers
Southwark Healthwatch spoke about listening to peoples experiences of health and social care and trying to make change to the wider community. Over the years Southwark Healthwatch spoke about the priority areas and one of them being unpaid carers. In 2019 their project on unpaid carers looked at surveys, focus groups and interviews with carers.
Results of the project looked at the daily life of carers with themes being on qualitative experiences. The project looked looked at the Impact of caring, which was reported to be very extensive, emotional and intense.
Other findings were
Carers felt they were going on beyond the roles of caring – especially on care coordination.
It was noted some carers were doing 69 hrs of unpaid care each week.
Stress levels, tiredness a strain on carers Mental Health.
Financial situation under strain due to multiple levels of care.
Southwark Healthwatch looked at the support carers were getting through social care services, this became an additional challenge for carers due to chasing people on the phone. Bureaucracy led to isolation of carers. Carers reported back that interaction with social workers or GP was not always a positive about the experience. Many felt the levels of service was inconsistent, lacking support and empathy, which led to distrust of council provision.
Carers did value one off support for benefits applications, carer assessments. Carers also felt activity groups were useful along with respite, but must be flexible. Counselling was hugely important for carers.
Carer members at the forum queried carer counselling services either from Southwark Carers, SLaM or Southwark council.
Southwark HW are going to raise this at Southwark Council’s “Carers Board”, hopefully the forum will get some feedback on this. The forum is worried about funding and accessiblity of counselling since Southwark carers lost their counselling service due to funding.
Greenwich Healthwatch fed back that on young carers awareness day they visited some schools and wrote a report on the experience of young carers, they felt that young carers are not heard in the borough and will be learning from others on what could be needed.
MP Helen Hayes engagement with forum
Helen gave overview of issues raised from when she the last attend our forum back in November 2019 . Helen updated the forum on how COVID-19 affected both Southwark and Lambeth boroughs. She noted that COVID-19 has shone a spotlight on inequalities in Health and social care. Corona virus has impacted the community’s mental health due to lose of income and difficulties accessing food and medicine. Helen’s email inbox is hitting over 1000 emails a week due to the coronavirus alone
MP Helen Hayes
She wants to take back views of Mental Health carers back to parliament and spoke how one of Labour’s previous election pledges was on increase of carer allowance. There is also a focus on the need for paid leave for carers, which they will continue to work on.
Helen spoke on how Carers assessments under carers act and how the Care Act a welcome reform, but was not supported by levels of funding. Helen mentioned that she is the Co-Chair of the All Party Parliament Group on Adult Social Care and they were working hard to reduce the fragmentation of the care sector.
She stressed that both Southwark and Lambeth council have been working very hard to address those needs and although she has been MP for Dulwich and Norwood for 5 years, she felt that MH issues will rise due to the problems corona virus has impacted on the communities.
The forum raised the issue of care homes especially the problem of how COVID impacted them as many carers have loved ones in support housing or care homes.
I also asked Helen about involvement for carers at the highest levels, where Helen phrased the importance of “Nothing about me without me”. She agrees that those who are expert by experience should be involved in policy or carers be allowed to co-design and co-produce.
Update from Cllr Jasmine Ali on Southwark Council commitment to carers
Jasmine thanked Helen Hayes for her support when COVID caused so much distress in the borough of Southwark.
Cllr Jasmine Ali
Jasmine was not a fan of the work Matt Hancock has done so far, but at least we are slowly getting in a better place. Jasmine noted that adult social care and carers are a big priority in the borough. She reported that there are around 26,000 carers in Soutwark alone, but she was proud of the work that Southwark’s Wellbeing hub, Southwark carers and older peoples hub were doing. Jasmine talked to the forum about Southwark’s future plans and that there will be a strong emphasis on advocacy, guidence and signposting.
She spoke about the importance of SLaM’s recovery college and how a focus needs to look at increasing the caring relationship between cared for and carer. There are plans to Link carers with Universal services e.g. public health, learning and leisure and the developing work on Southwark’s Carers joint strategy, need assessments and the carers pathway board. She wanted to hear what are issues being raised from the forum.
Jasmine spoke on the importance and need for the Ethical care charter and carers charter, although a lot of work has stopped she fedback that by the end of June things will start up again.
Update from Cllr Danial Adilypour on Lambeth Council’s commitment to carers
Danial agreed with what both speakers raised at the forum and mentioned carers are a very important issue in the borough of Lambeth. There are big pieces of work from the boroughs “carers card” scheme which came out of Lambeth Carers Strategy. First part of the launch was actually off carers week 2020. The Second part of the ‘carers card’ launch will be at the end of the year, where businesses will provide a range of discounts to carers.
Cllr Danial Adilypour
Daniel gave out stats and showed there are around 20,000 carers in Lambeth. He mentioned that the Lambeth carers card is not the end of what is being offered off Lambeth Carers strategy, there will be more to come.
Currently there is a helpline open during the corona crisis. Lambeth council will work on several strands being.
A&E services (the problem of people not accessing services due to MH), but will work with Lambeth’s ‘Living well network alliance’ to increase access to A&E.
The problem of Social isolation is another strand Lambeth is going to work on where they will develop a strategy.
Lastly Daniel stated that Mental Health will hit Lambeth due to the COVID situation, Lambeth will continue to engage with groups on this topic, especially the MH carers forum.
Carers from the forum were queried Cllr Danial regarding the SLaMs Lambeth hospital consultation. There will be wider plans over the coming years involved with Lambeth carers strategy to engage with forum.
Healthwatch Lambeth Update
The forum was joined by Lambeth’s Healthwatch Natalia Sali who is their Engagement Manager. She Updated us on the 80 page report of Lambeth Hospital consultation recommendations.
She reported that over the month carers were fearful of using services. So because of this, Lambeth Healthwatch put on an webinar event where Speakers from Kings college hospital and a GP from a surgery presented what services are available for users.
Consultations are online at least and Lambeth HW will expect changes to face to face appointments, but this depends on virus
Lambeth Healthwatch will continue to speak to carers, older adults and young people regarding experiences in care packages during pandemic. As of this moment Lambeth HW are runing webinar’s every 2 weeks, the latest one on pregnancy, which did interest a member of the forum.
Updates from SLaM and forum carer members
David Meyrick SLaM’s carer inpatient rep fed back on how SLaM’s wards were
Allowing visitors back on ward, but visitors need to respect social distancing.
Developing a ‘missing in action’ project on female wards.
Looking into wards becoming more family friendly during visiting hours.
Carers strategy is in a draft.
Webinar course at SLaM recovery in July.
How the Peer support groups were continuing to run online.
The SLaM carer peer support runs every Wednesday from 6 till 7 online, where the carer peer support updated the forum on how the carers group was getting along.
We also had Updates from Southwark Advisory group members on
Producing a video for SLaM website on what Service user involvement does
What can be learnt from COVID-19
Qualification courses for patients
Updates from Lambeth Advisory group
Richie QI peer lead asked the group on what patients expect from services
Met with the Head of Lambeth Alliance chair on regarding how their Covid-19 strategy would be developing.
Here is the update from the Lambeth Mental Health carers forum. The forum is run over at Brixton 336 building hosted by Lambeth Carers Hub.
Carers’ Hub Lambeth is an independent local charity based in Brixton. They offer advice, information, emotional support, signposting, peer support groups and events to unpaid carers of Lambeth. I often attend their MH carers support groups. Without Lambeth carers hub, many carers in the borough would feel isolated, abandoned and having to cope through a crisis.
Welcome to my first forum update for the new year. The first forum is the Lambeth Mental Health carer forum, which took place over at Brixton 336 on the 23rd of January 2020. The Lambeth carers forum exists to give unpaid carers a chance to know what Health and Social services are doing for them and also what those services have planned.
Lambeth has some of the highest rates of mental health problems in the country and perhaps even further, it is important carers come together and ask why this is the case and what are the authorities doing about it. As you might already know, South London & Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust cover the mental health services in Lambeth and also in Lewisham, Croydon and Southwark, so he forum seeks to engage with the Mental Health Trust over the coming year.
More importantly, there are other NHS trusts serving the community in Lambeth and we had the opportunity to have Guy’s and St Thomas NHS trust Mental Health lead engage with the forum, more on this later.
The January forum was very well attended and word is spreading about the importance of the Lambeth MH carers forum, with the help of Lambeth Carers hub, unfortunately the forum took place at the same time of the SLaM carers committee, so some members had to send apologies.
At the start of the forum, we took time to go through the minutes of the last forum which was held over at Moasic Clubhouse. The forum was attended by Helen Hayes Labour candidate for Dulwich and West Norwood and also Lambeth Healthwatch who are seeking consultation from Carers on the future of Lambeth Hospital. There was a lot of discussion from the updates from the last forum.
Next we had a presentation from Caroline Sweeney who is the Mental Health Lead for Guys & St Thomas NHS Trust. You might not already know, but Acute NHS Trusts tend to develop, renew or plan mental health strategies, however both Kings NHS trust, SLaM NHS Trust and Guys & St Thomas NHS trust are working on their Carer’s Strategies as well. If you are a carer or are lucky enough to attend a carers forum, certainly inquire if your hospital trust is working on either or both policies and strategies, especially carer engagement/involvement policies.
For the Lambeth MH carer forum, Caroline updated us on G&STT Mental Health strategy. The strategy was not developed in isolation as the trust held six workshops in the past via the hospital and its community sites.
Their external workshop had a range of stakeholders including Service Users and carers, London Ambulance service other MH Trusts, CCG’s, Black Thrive, Oasis and Papyrus (youth suicide prevention), Lambeth Alliance and more.
Their Strategy contained many important sections being
Developments and Good Practice.
Linking to National Drivers.
Objectives of the Strategy.
Overview on Patients, People and Partnerships.
There were more, but due to limited time, we could only cover a few areas off the presentation.
GSTT Developments and Good Practice
The plans and targets for GSTT are
Improving partnership working with South London and Maudsley NHS Trust
Delivery of training across in-patient and community services
Development of improved assessment processes for district nursing
Improve experience of patients who receive Enhanced care
Development of primary care hub for adolescents
Implementation of the Children and Young People Healthy Partnership (CYPHP), probably due to GSTT children’s hospital (Evelina London Children’s Hospital).
Mind & Body and IMPARTS service
GSTT psychology service
Linking to National Drivers
GSTT Long term plan is to
Increase Mental Health Liaison capacity e.g. specialised MH nurses in Accute wards
Equipping Ambulance staff to deal with MH crisis
Importance of improving child and adolescent MH care
Commitment to reducing National Suicide rates (Zero Suicide national driver).
GSTT also have internal drivers mentioned in their MH Strategy.
These drivers were from audits and reports about Liaison teams and children services experiencing an increase in referrals, this was especially noted in A&E departments and long waiting times for those experiencing MH crisis are not helping.
GSTT Mental Health Strategy Vision and Objectives
A MH Strategy would not be much without its Vision and Objectives.
GSTT seeks to improve quality of care that it delivers to Patients, carers and families living with serious mental illness.
GSTT also seeks to support patients with long term physical health conditions and manage their MH needs
GSTT seeks to ensure their workforce has the right skills, knowledge and attributes to care for patients, their carers and families dealing with MH needs.
There were other things discussed in regards to GSTT MH Strategy, that due to time I have not mentioned in this blog post.
GSTT and carers
We did not have GSTT carers engagement on their carers strategy, but Caroline did cover some part of that stategy, that being the introduction of Carers Passport to identify carers.
Use of Carer network study days
Dementia specific Carer days (which is still under development).
Continued work on Alzheimer’s society and Dementia UK.
There is more in the pipeline regarding how GSTT engages with Families and carers, but the above is a start.
The rest of the forum was discussing on the rota for chairing the meeting and future attendees for the Lambeth MH carers forum. Many hope for the Helen can update the forum regarding carers later on in the year and for other MPs to engage with the group. Other members want engagement from Lambeth leads who run social services.
This concludes the update from the Lambeth MH Carers forum for January.
Welcome 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Welcome 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.
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.
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.
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.
Constant worry and anxiety on families affected
Bereavement, especially when addiction leads to someone taking their life
The problems of trust and denial.
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.
We were told how families and carers felt the following issues were a difficult path to navigate being,
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.
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.