Category Archives: Carers Southwark 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.

Southwark MH Carers forum October 2019

untitled-2Welcome back for the October update of the Southwark Mental Health Carers forum. Just so those to the blog understand. The term mental health carer does not mean the mental health of carers, it is a term to describe an unpaid carer supporting someone close who has mental health needs.

I would like to kindly thank Southwark CCG and Southwark Healthwatch in helping to advertise and publicise the carers forum.

The Southwark MH carers forum aims to allow unpaid carers to have a chance to understand and forum a relationship with mental health services in the borough of Southwark, we do not stop there. It is a right for unpaid carers to query health services and voice their opinions. Most members seek to understand why the social care and health services are the way they are. It does not help that the NHS changes rapidly and can be complex to adapt to local needs.

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The Southwark Mental Health carers forum had engagement from Kings NHS mental health strategy lead Gavin Smith to explain his mental health strategy. We also had Rebecca Martland from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience attend to talk about her new study, plus we were hoping Zenette Abrahams could update us on Southwark Council’s carers strategy.

Before we continued on with the forum which runs from Southwark Carers. I noticed there was a lot of pictures and items on show. I had just caught the Southwark Carers Black History month exhibition and celebration, which was put on by one of the Southwark Carers Trustee. I spoke to her about the importance of Black history, which takes place in the month of October.

Just so you know Southwark Carers provides several services, one being the enabling service, which encompasses active listening, advocacy, signposting and support in tackling stressful issues outside of the caring role. The other being empowering carers with information and knowledge about their rights.

There were lots of photos on display regarding heros of black history and what it was like to live in those times. The CEO of Southwark Carers kindly showed me one of the costume cut outs.

 

We had a good turn out at the carers forum as I explained the agenda and unfortunately Gavin could not stay, but would be back again in future. I explained to the members of the forum as to why it was important to have a platform for carers to at least be interested on what their borough was doing for them. It should be a right for carers to come together and share what is working for them and what is not working.

The forum still needs to grow further so I have some work to do. I spoke on the updates provided by Southwark council in regards to the Carers Pathways Project Board. The Carers Pathways Project Board was established at the end of July, and work being undertaken around the carers pathway. I was given a contact to at least find out how the board was getting along. It is important carers be updated on what will be provided for them, rather than systems being designed where there is little or no carer input. It does not matter if it is bad news, but carers should know about it.

Next we had Rebecca talk about her project regarding improving physical health of patients on the inpatient wards. Basically they are starting a feasibility to see whether High intensity interval training (HIIT) might be acceptable and helpful for inpatients with Serious mental illness.

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Eligible patients who consent to take part would be randomly allocated to HIIT or to Treatment as usual. The HIIT involves alternating short bursts of high intensity exercise (1 minute intervals) with recovery periods of light exercise (90 second intervals) (Each session will take 11 minutes overall + warm-up and cool-down) and will take place in the Bethlem and Maudsley Hospitals on a stationary bike – People will be asked to attend for up to 12 weeks, even after their discharge, but they’ll start as inpatients.

The group discussed how important exercise is for those suffering mental ill health and felt physical health support was not focused on enough. Some members signed up to be part of Rebecca’s focus group.

I then updated members on the following being Guys & St Thomas carer’s policy and it means for both Kings NHS trust and Guys and St thomas NHS Trust.

I then updated the members about the Carers UK conference and what I spoke about at the conference, then I spoke about my visit to South West London & St George inpatient ward to speak to staff about carer involvement. I then spoke about the Lewisham CCG Mental Health stakeholder event with some members querying if Southwark CCG are doing something like that.

I then updated members regarding the carers support group and also that there will be a joint Southwark and Lambeth MH carers forum next month where MP Helen Hayes will be attending.

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MP Helen Hayes

We then heard updates from members who attended the SLaM NHS Southwark Advisory group, where plans to redevelop a ward were shown, plus a few other updates. Some members also registered to be on Southwark’s carers members list.

For Black History month I will be speaking at St Andrews healthcare on a carers view of BAME inclusion in the NHS and will probably write a blog before then.

Overall the Southwark MH Carers forum was empowering and there is plenty of work to do to raise carer focus, awareness and empowerment in the borough of Southwark.

Southwark MH Carers forum September 2019

MH Forum 20-09-19-page-001Welcome to the September 2019 update of the Southwark Mental Health Carers forum. The forum is aimed at unpaid carers who carer or support those with mental health needs. For example as in a relative or friend suffering schizophrenia, bipolar, ADHD, serve depression, self harming and so on. We even have families attending supporting someone with learning disabilities.

The forum runs once every 3rd thursday month from Southwark Carers. Southwark Carers is a carers centre that Enables, empowers and enriches the lives of carers in the London borough of Southwark.

For the September forum there was a push to get carer members to understand Maudsley’s Carer Strategy. Just like over at the Lewisham MH Carers forum, we hope carers can understand what a carer strategy means, how it could help them as a carer and why NHS trusts work towards a carers strategy. Still, its no good having a strategy done in isolation. Mental Health trusts need to listen to those supporting patients in their services. Carers need to feel valued by being listened to, even if some issues cannot be resolved.

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Unfortunately the SLaM member of staff could not make it, but I managed to go through the strategy some weeks before and developed a presentation on it. Oddly enough, we could not fit in as much about the carers strategy and I am hoping we could cover the rest in October.

I did break down a few things regarding what South London & Maudsley regards as a carer, the issue of identifying carers and training SLaM staff to be carer aware. There are other queries from carers especially about the Triangle of Care policy and also the impact of the Care Act 2014 and if it has done any good for families and carers.

I also presented the new Physical Health project from KingsHealthPartners, which focuses on improving mental and physical well-being for people with mental illnesses. There was excitement that a focus group looks to be developed involvement patients, doctors, researchers and carers on the new a high intensity interval training (HIIT) program for inpatients with mental illnesses.

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Carers are understandably upset that their loved ones are being given medication that although controls the mental illness, can add physical weight to the patient. It can get so bad that it could contribute to the 20 year Mortality Gap in service users. It is about time there should be a controlled exercise program in conjuction with mental health treatment. King’s Health Partners is an Academic Health Sciences Centre where world-class research, education and clinical practice are brought together for the benefit of patients. They bring together a world-leading research led university and three successful NHS Foundation Trusts.

You can find out more about them on the link below

https://www.kingshealthpartners.org/

Talking about NHS trusts. It was good to at least have South London and Maudsley NHS Trust work to engaging with carers regarding its carers strategy, we also had Kings College NHS Trust getting views from carers over in Lambeth and sometimes Southwark, but there still needs to be an update from Guys & St Thomas on their Carer’s policies. We had an update on progress regarding engagement.

I updated the members on the new Carer support group, which I aim to set up in Southwark. The group needs to be carer-led and will receive funding from the mental health organisation Mind. I am awaiting peer support training, since it is a new avenue for me being a peer supporter, but I have unfortunately have carers chat with me regarding serious NHS incidents and they are not so trusting of NHS staff due to being so distruate if their ‘loved one’ has died or come to serious harm. The carer peer support group, will need to have protected space for carers where we can support and learn from each other.

The forum members also discussed several exciting events, one of them being the Celebrating the role of carers across the Capital festival held over at Bromley by Bow Centre. The festival was organised by LondonADASS and the festival was being hosted over in London Borough of Tower Hamlets, East London. More on that festival later in another blog post.

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At the Southwark forum we celebrated the update of Carer member Ana who is developing her skills as a therapist. She has been nominated for awards by The London Awards Brazilian Guide 2019 which is intended to support and support projects and initiatives that empower entrepreneurs.

Ana

Ana has several projects that help those in the Latin community and has set up a project that helps hundreds of children over in Brazil. The members of the Southwark Carers forum are aware of the contribution the Latin community make and are aware of how communities feel pushed out by development in the area.

https://brasileirosnainglaterra.com/eventos/guia-londres-awards-woman-2019/

Ana invited members of the carers forum to the Brazilian embassey for a wellbeing festival and we look forward to being part of how the Latin community are inviting of others even if they are feeling welcomed.

I will update the Southwark Carer members on how the Carer festival went in October.

Southwark MH Carers Forum September 2018

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Welcome to the September update of the Southwark mental health carers forum. Out of all the mental health carers forums, this forum was the last carers forum to be set up throughout South London. The forum is held over at Southwark carers.

Southwark Carers provides information, advice and support to carers across the borough of Southwark, they also aim to raise awareness of the rights and needs of carers. One of the aims of the Southwark mental health carers forum is to raise awareness of mental health carers. That being families and carers who care for someone close suffering mental health needs.

Continue reading

Southwark MH Carers Forum June 2018

Dg3QQzpUYAAo2uyWelcome to June 2018 update from the Southwark mental health carers forum. As a reminder the mint of carers forums give unpaid carers in care for someone suffering mental health needs a chance to get updates and query mental health services and also services aimed at unpaid carers. One of the things that is important to note is that the forms allow empowerment to unpaid carers.

For this particular form over at Southwark carers, we were lucky to have the Labour MP helen Hayes attend the forum to present a new report published jointly by the Health & Social Care and the Housing, Communities & Local Government Select Committees on the long term funding of adult social care.

At the forum we all admitted that the social care system is broken. There are quite a few reasons why social care is struggling to support those in desperate need. One of the things that has been causing a lot of problems is the austerity effect. We felt that the current government seems to be dragging its heels on supporting and protecting the rights of unpaid carers.

If that wasn’t hard enough we have a double blow in regards to the ‘cared for’ where hospitals are struggling with funding, delayed hospital discharges, difficulty with mental health patients getting support and the rotating door system. All of this applies added pressure on families and unpaid carers who are trying their best to care for their loved ones.

Comforting friend. Woman consoling her sad friend.

The select committee which Helen Hayes is a member of is a cross party initiative that includes a Citizens jury. The committee looked at funding and who should fund social care. The committee also queried what social care should look like.

Too often the poorest in Society are asked to pay for social care that cannot often reach them. Above all they should be transparency not just in social care but within the NHS. It is so important that families and carers are given the support in order to care for their loved ones rather than being pushed out by care workers.

The forum also discussed the integrated social care system where are the city of Manchester has set an example for others to follow.

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The MP felt glad that such a forum is up and running since she felt the current government has failed to give unpaid carers a voice and she will do all she can in order to support the mental health carers forum. We also discussed carers assessments and who should attend the forum.  Unfortunately Southwark Council representatives were due to attend the forum, but were unaware the time had changed.

In future we can send out posters where the MPs can help publicise and support the forum.

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

Southwark MH Carers Forum May 2018

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Here is the update from the forum I run after the BME MH Carer/SU forum in the afternoons.  This forum is aimed at unpaid carers in the borough of Southwark, although mental health professionals are free to attend.

The May carer forum was very well attended with representatives from Southwark CCG, Southwark Healthwatch, Kings Health Partners and nurses from the Southwark inpatient acute wards.

At the start of the forum I presented what a mental health carer is, that being basically an unpaid carer supporting someone with mental health needs.

We then had Eliza Hinchliffe presenting on Kings Health Partners project ” Mind and Body Programme”

She presented on the new Mind and Body programme, which is a Kings Health Partners initiative between Guys&St Thomas, Kings College Hospital and SLaM. The Mind & Body programme looks to close the gap between mental health needs and physical health needs.

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The forum discussed ways engagement can be made with carers in mind. There is an offer to promote the forum via the hospitals in Southwark, which means families and Carers can link up on what is going on.

The forum hoped to have Mick Wright Turner – Head of PMIC Southwark Pathway, but he was unavailable.  However we were very impressed that nurses from the Mental Health unit attended the forum to speak about the carers pathway progress.

Next up to present was Karen Clarke who is the mental health lead at Southwark CCG. The forum is particularly interested in collaborating with her regarding updates on mental health services in the borough of Southwark, especially services that needs to give more thought/involvement and engagement about families and carers.

Karen spoke about her role and an introduction about Southwark’s mental health strategy. There will also be a IAPTs review,  the Southwark wellbeing hub review and more updates.  The forum spent some time comparing it to Lambeth’s Mosaic clubhouse. The forum would like southwark CCG to help promote what we do and let carers know there is a place to be heard.  Karen aims to continually engage with the forum, so carers and carer champions can be involved and spread the word.

Next was Southwark Healthwatch updating on projects regarding carers?

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Southwark Healthwatch spoke about their new initiative to engage with carers about mental health services.

The engagement officers took the time to ask carers on what they think would be a mental health crisis and where would the carers take their loved one during a crisis and would like to interview carers about mental health services in the borough of Southwark.

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The forum again would like Southwark Healthwatch to help promote the forum, which Healthwatch agreed via their community board.

The next part of the forum looked into engagement requests Updates

There was a very short discussion on meeting the MP Neil Coyle, the MP has helped promote the forum and there will be a Southwark MH event in Parliament with members of the forum talking about why such a forum is needed.  All members noted that this will bring much needed awareness of what carers are trying to do while being empowered to do so.

Members are also excited that MP Helen Hayes is due to visit the forum in June.

Lastly we had an update from Carers involved in SLaM Foundation Trust

I have been helping train staff on the wards, one ward was actually done over at the Maudsley, this is in regards to carers & confidentiality. The training is being done with help from the trusts Modern Matrons.

Another member of the forum attended NHS England’s conference and raised if their 5 year plan includes try Triangle of Care.

This concludes the update for the Southwark MH Carers forum, stay tuned for the Lewisham carers forum update and also the Lambeth Carers forum update.

 

Southwark MH Carers Forum March 2018

Untitled-2Welcome to an update of how the March 2018 Mental Health carer forum went. I usually try to chair several carer forums around South London and on Friday the 23rd of March we had a forum at Southwark Carers. As stated in previous posts, one of the core aspects of the carer forums is to give carers the space, platform and voice for engagement at their local mental health trust.

Fortunately the forums are very much supported by our mental health trust and at this particular forum we had engagement from the Southwark Modern Matron for South London & Maudsley. Matron’s used to be used very much earlier on in the NHS history and now South London & Maudsley are bringing them back to help with quality standards, engagement with wards and a whole lot more.

South London & Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust has 4 Modern Matron’s each one for the four boroughs the trust provides services in. For Southwark the Modern Matron focuses on Physical Health, Lambeth is on reduction in violence on wards, Lewisham focuses Quality improvement and Croydon on Learning disabilities and Carer engagement. As a note all 4 do a whole lot more, but these are some of the core aspects the matron’s work on.

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Zara the Modern Matron for Southwark spoke about how important it is to build relationships with the staff on the Acute wards. She spoke how she trained for the role and her passion to make a big difference. As a carer, I was very interested in what she had to say and her way of speaking made me even more interested in mental health overall. The modern matron for the borough of southwark also spoke about how care plans will hopefully be more of the focus in ward rounds held at the 4 hospitals. She spent a large time engaging with carers at the forum about SLaM’s “Carer engagement & observation plan” and changing the culture of how NHS staff can engagement and involve carers.

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Lots of big projects are happening with Maudsley working with the two other big Mental Health NHS trusts that being Oxleas and the other being South West London & St Georges. We also heard about the importance of the 5 year physical plan from SLaM looking at

– Stoping smoking
– Smear tests
– Denistry
– Nutrianal health and more

One of the reasons for the 5 year plan is that patients with mental health needs often tend not to focus on their own physical health needs and the NHS trust feels that mental and physical health should be the focus in health and recovery.

Other parts of the forum is that the borough of Southwark’s MPs have responded and will have time to engage with the forum, we are still waiting to hear from the last MP. The other good news is that the mental health lead for Southwark CCG will visit the forum in the coming months. So far, I am very impressed with the support the forum is getting from the borough of Southwark, but unfortunately there still is a lot of work to do in order to bring changes for families and carers.

The last part of the forum was exploring the following question regarding improving services for SLaM. I wanted to collect information from carers on how they feel South London & Maudsley could improve the quality of it services.

Hopefully we can get more carers attending the forum, but if not that then at least they can have an option to try attend a carers support group, which we hope will be set up to catch hidden carers or those who feel their role is not about caring.

Thanks for reading.