Category Archives: Carers Southwark MH Forum

Joint Southwark & Lambeth MH Carers forum July 2020

Maudsley_Hospital_Main_BuildingWelcome 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.

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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.

Kooth application

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.

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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.

Chenelle showed us a quick video about Kooth, which can be seen from below.

Video of Kooth demonstation

After the video Chenelle 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.

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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.

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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.

Joint Southwark & Lambeth MH Carers forum June 2020

Maudsley_Hospital_Main_BuildingWelcome 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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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.

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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

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.

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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.

This concludes the update for June.

Southwark MH Carers forum May 2020

logo and coverHere is May’s update of the Southwark mental health carers forum. This is one of the 4 to 5 carer groups I run each month. All carer forums and support groups are run online via Zoom due to social distancing because of COVID-19. I feel families and carers still need to know what is happening with services especially when health and social care is under strain.

In attendance for the forum we had carers from Southwark and also from Lambeth since the Lambeth carers forum is not running at the moment. We were also joined by trustees of Southwark Carers, plus Southwark Healthwatch were in attendance. We were also joined by Maudsley’s NHS Southwark inpatient carer lead, plus a carer who co-runs their carer groups. The main presentation was from Bernadette Pickerell who is SLaM’s Mental Health Act Team Leader and Senior MHA Co-ordinator.

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Southwark MH Carers forum April 2020

matthewWelcome to the April update of the Southwark Mental Health Carers forum. Just a short intro about the forum. The forum is aimed at carers who care for someone with a mental illness. I obviously try to aim the forum at carers based in Southwark, but we often ask for engagement with MH, health services, commissioners and social services.

All my carer forums including carer peer support groups are run via Zoom due to the COVID-19 crisis.

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Southwark MH Carers forum February 2020

Southwark MH Carer forum v2Welcome to a quick update from the Southwark Mental Health carers forum. I know I have not been blogging for around a month, but I have recently suffered a bereavement. It has taken a fair bit of energy to do much, but I am quite proud to be able to continue to run the forums even though I have to take time and look after myself.

Given the time I will eventually write more about the current situation, but for now I want to at least update carer members. On the February update of the MH carers forum for Southwark, we are able to get support and engaged with King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Guys and St Thomas NHS Trust and South London & Maudsley. For February King’s college hospital Mental Health Lead kindly attended the forum to speak to carers about Kings Mental Health strategy, which is still going through development.

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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.

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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.