Category Archives: Event reviews

Reviews of events I have been to

London Carers Festival 2019

IMG_20190921_133155Do you know that if you are a carer, then you are doing something not only for your ‘cared for’, but also for the community. Caring for someone when life can be difficult for yourself should be celebrated. Thats why London ADASS, which stands for Directors of Adult Social Services aimed to put on a festival for carers. The aim of London ADASS is to improve adult social care across London and to identify ways of doing this as cost-effectively as possible.

The festival was developed and brought together by many other carer organisations who help plan and run the festival. The first London borough to have the Carer’s festival was the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. Eventually each London borough will have the honor of running the festival each year.

The festival took place on Saturday the 21st of September over at the Bromley by Bow Centre on a lovely warm sunny day. We expected well over 500 to attend and join in on the community spirit. I arrived just around the start of the festival to be given a tour by one of the stewards who was friendly and approachable. The festival was split up in 9 zones and I explored all of each zone.

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The first Zone could be heard some distance away, because that was the DJ with also stage performances. The next Zone was the Crazy gold area where families and unpaid carers could relax and take their mind off things. We also had in Zone 3 the food stalls, which were amazingly cheap in prices. I actually bought myself a burrito.

The next Zone, being Zone 4 was the eating area where I relaxed and did some reading off my mobile phone, while also chatting to another host at the event. Eventually I explored Zone 5 where there were stalls helping to raise the awareness of unpaid carers in the community. I visited the Carers UK stall. Then moved on to the Stall hosted by Havering Carers Hub and another stall from Carers of Barking & Dagenham.

Here is some more information from the stalls I visited.

https://www.adass.org.uk/
https://www.carersuk.org/
http://www.haveringcarershub.org.uk/
https://carers.org/
http://www.carerscentre.org.uk/

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Eventually I wandered into the Barn Area, which was Zone 6 and I was greated by the carer facilitator who runs the Carer forums over in Croydon. She also helps run carer support groups and educational carer awareness events, so I was surprised to see her at the Carers festival helping out.

I took the time to join in some Arts and Crafts which was run by ‘Carers First’. Carers First provide information, advice, guidance, emotional support, training and activities. They also help give carers an opportunity to have a break from their caring role. They charity covers a wide area including Kent & Medway, Newham, Waltham Forest, Haringey, Essex and Lincolnshire. I was amazed at the work they do and how accommodating they were in helping others join in the activities.

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In Zone 7 was the community hall which had performances going on through the day. Plus Zone 8 was the quiet area and Zone 9 being the first aid and Disabled facilities.

So what events took place while I was there? I took some to listen to the music and poetry from Sarifa who is a carer champion and activist who campaigns on disability rights. I noticed there was some laughter therapy going on at the festival, but at the time I was still exploring what was going on.

It was great that some members from the carer forums I run also turned up the the festival and I hope some will update the group next Tuesday over in Lewisham. The festival pulled in much the community spirit and it was great to watch the Royal Air force Cadets doing their drills and helping out at the festival.

https://www.raf.mod.uk/aircadets/

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Later on at the festival we got to hear from the Islington Council Singers, which are a choir that have been around for many years. We also got a dance act from disabled ladies from the Muskaan group. The group was formed around in the early 1990’s and focuses on empowerment and personal development. While watching the group, i was inspired to explore a stall promoting the ‘Asian People’s Disability Alliance’. They provide support and services for disabled and elderly in Asian communities as we know Tower Hamlets is a diverse area.

You can check out their link below.

https://apda.org.uk/

I could not stay on for the rest of the festival since it started at 12:00 noon and finished around 5 or 6 pm. I did hear there was more poetry and choir groups, plus I missed a chance at Zumba and other discussions at Zone 7.

All in All, i enjoyed spending time at the first Festival dedicated to carers and also the community. Unpaid Carers do a lot for who they are emotionally attached to, it is about time carers are celebrated as being part of the community.

Thanks for ‘Carers First’ for providing some pictures.  Check out more about Carers First Link below.

https://www.carersfirst.org.uk/

Thanks for stopping by!!

World Suicide Prevention Day 2019

businessman sittingWorld Suicide Prevention Day is an awareness day observed on 10 September every year, in order to provide worldwide commitment and action to prevent suicides. World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD),  runs on the 10 September and is set by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP). where the World Health Organisation also sponsor the day. The theme for 2019 is called Working Together to Prevent Suicide.

The WHO and IASP also work with governments and other partners to ensure that suicide is no longer stigmatized, criminalized or penalized.

However one of their main aims is to raise awareness of the risks of suicide and to fund suicide prevention schemes.

I took some time to look at some stats on suicide and was amazed to know that a person dies every 40 seconds by suicide and up to 25 times as many again make a suicide attempt.  Suicide is also among the top 20 leading causes of death globally for people of all ages.  The WHO refers the widest number of suicides occur in the age group 15 – 29.

If you would like to check out my awareness video on world suicide prevention day, please play the video below.

Who are the UK organisations?

Since world Suicide prevention day is a global movement, what is happening in the UK?

There are many in the UK helping to battle against suicide and raise awareness. From Rethink Mental Illness, Mind, Network Rail, NHS England, Probation Service, Samaritans, Heads Together, Grassroots suicide prevention, Healthwatch, Mates in Mind and PAPYRUS (helping young people against suicide) Plus many more.

For the UK there is the National Suicide Prevention Alliance, The National Suicide Prevention Alliance (NSPA) is a cross-sector, England-wide coalition working reduce suicide in England. You can even sign up to be a member, its free.

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Some Facts about suicide

The main suicide triggers are poverty, unemployment, the loss of a loved one, arguments and legal or work-related problems. Plus triggers can form from difficulties with developing one’s identity especially Lesbian, gay, and bisexual young people who come from families that reject or do not accept them.

Arguments.

We also have isolation from the community, bullying and racism in society with far too few trying to tackle the causes leading to a spike in suicide levels. We also have relationship breakdown and divorce as a leading cause especially in older adults who find there is lack of support after a relationship has finished.

Talking about community basically suicide is a community issue and is everyone’s business. No one should suffer alone and together people can fight suicide and reach out to others when they are in need. Everyone has something to contribute no matter how large or small.

With mental health, those suffering depression are at high risk of suicidal behaviours, but at the same time how can someone with depression know they are at risk?

My thoughts on suicide prevention

From Sociologists, health professionals and Economists to researchers they all have a large part to play in understanding suicide as social pressures place a lot of strain on people to trigger suicide.

We all have a part to play in tackling suicide. Unfortunately suicide is still a taboo subject and can be rather complex in the community. You just cannot look into someone’s mind and have an idea that they are at risk, people need to listen, but those at risk need to need to talk (although be choosy on who you talk to).

As a male, I am certainly aware and have experienced situations on why men are more likely to take their life. I feel some men are very competitive and often see opportunities to get the better of everyone. There is no problem with competition, but it can be an issue if someone feels opening up is weak or bringing others down is strong. As with women, they are often more likely to talk about their situation, while men might just deal with it until it might reach breaking point.

Families and carers

Families and carers can be just at risk, especially after a loved one has taken their life. People who have been bereaved by suicide can be at greater risk of taking their own lives. It is important to try talk to someone, especially someone close who will take the time to listen to you. There is always hope, even if the mind is in a place where it feels no one is listening.

Certainly seek out support and awareness groups. There is a site called Support after suicide which is at https://supportaftersuicide.org.uk

How can you help?

On World Suicide Prevention I am involved as a carer member on a suicide prevention steering group at my local mental health trust.  We are launching our Suicide prevention strategy soon and there will be an exciting conference on the day.

Even though my background is more on family and carer engagement, there is always room to learn and connect with those who have been affected by suicide.

If you are also thinking about being involved, here are some suggestions I could offer.

  • Blog, write and learn about suicide prevention..
  • Help reduce stigma on mental health and the after affects of suicide.
  • Try educate yourself about suicide prevention since a number of local events will be on during the day.
  • Be kind.
  • If suffering from suicidal thoughts, seek help.

Other places to seek help

Samaritans: 116 123 (free, for everyone, 24/7)
CALM: 0800 585858 (free, for men, 5pm-midnight)
PAPYRUS: 0800 968 4141

 

Service User Advocacy Exhibition

Thanks for stopping by at another carer blog post. I thought to quickly drum up a page on my latest visit to the Bethlem’s Museum of the mind. I was excited to be part of their new exhibition “Impatient! Stories of Service User Advocacy”.

bethlem-entrance

The exhibition which is over at the Bethlem Museum just inside the Bethlem Royal Hospital, celebrates the history of Service User advocacy. There is history on how the groups and organisations projected their causes and how they relate to psychiatry. I felt that sometimes when it comes to NHS exhibitions they tend to promote much of what has taken place in the hospitals, but showing what the community or inpatients have done, can give more of a holistic picture.

I was privileged to be shown how so many advocacy groups helped in their own cause from Dragon Cafe over in Southwark, to CoolTan Arts which was based also in Southwark. It was great to see Michelle Barrier’s work who was the CEO of cooltan sometime ago. We also had contributions from HearUs Croydon, speak out against psychiatry, Service User Involvement in Training and Education, Dolly Sen and many more.

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On that Saturday when the exhibition first opened to the public, I wandered around the Bethlem Gallery to see many of the exhibits and reflected on how those advocacy groups have made a difference to patients lives. Also on the day was a talk from Nathan Filer author of the books The Shock of the Fall.

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Nathan was there to talk about his new book The HeartLand, which from his website is a collection of personal stories and essays about madness and its meanings. His talk was on how he used to work in a hospital, which led him to become more involved in mental health nursing. Many of the questions from the audience were challenging and well thought out.

You can find out more about Nathan Filer from his website

https://www.nathanfiler.co.uk/

I then visited the rest of he museum which had an impressive display of the history of the Maudsley and about Bedlem. I event visited the boardroom. which showed the picture of Queen Mary who visited one of the wards around 1930. Queen Mary eventually became the President of Bethlem.

You can find out more about the boardroom in the museum below.

https://museumofthemind.org.uk/blog/just-visiting-queen-mary

The rest of the day I spent going through the sections and displays from advocacy groups, I am sorry if I missed any since there was so many. As mentioned, I feel that patients can have a very difficult time getting their voice heard. Even when unwell, it is so important that some have the strength to form a group or network and try to have that voice. There are problems with psychology and psychiatry, especially with medications and policies from the government. Some of those things are just a small reason why the service user advocacy groups have formed and need to stay in place.

Some groups help to support the mental health system, while others are against. Some advocacy groups help to untangle the maze of the mental health system, while other advocacy groups work towards creativity and expression. The history of advocacy groups is very rich and I feel this is just a start of the celebration of service user voices and protests.

I was also glad to chip into the exhibition due to my involvement with Service User Involvement In Training and Education (SUITE), basically SUITE allows patients and unpaid carers to have the power to be involved in training NHS staff, develop courses and educate others on their experiences. The Museum kindly took my views and included me along with other members of SUITE in a video exhibition.

I have also noticed that on the day, some NHS staff from South London and Maudsley took time off their weekend to visit the exhibition including the Chief Operating Officer.

I would like to thank the organisers and the Bethlem Museum and Bethlem Gallery for including service users and carers in the rich history of mental health.

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The exhibition runs from 7 September 2019 to the 4 January 2020

Thanks for stopping by.

Reform of the Mental Health Act Debate

parliamentI was recently invited to observe an important debate regarding the Mental Health Act review. The debate was held at Westminster Hall over in Parliament on the 25th of July 2019.   It must be only the second time I have visited Parliament and if some of my forum members was not there, I would have easily got lost.

I have to thank the Lewisham carer members for attending the debate, it was a lot to ask of them. I wanted to also ask the Lambeth carer members, but that forum was on the same morning and I had to cut my chairing of the forum short. One of the members from the Southwark carers forum wanted to attend, but was held up and I know she is very involved in the mental health act review.

Before I continue, what is the mental health act?

The Mental Health Act 1983 is an Act of the Parliament and it covers how people who are brought into mental health treatment. The MHA also covers the care of mentally unwell persons. There are cases when a person can be detained, also known as sectioned, under the Mental Health Act (1983) and treated without their agreement.

It is important to remember that under the Mental Health Act (MHA), you can be detained if Mental Health professionals think your mental health puts you or others at risk, and you need to be treated in a safe environment.

When someone mentally unwell ends up being detained, they have certain rights.

– They have the right to appeal, and the right to get help from an independent advocate.
– To have someone explain what happens to you and why.
– The right to ask questions on why you are detained.
– The right to confidentiality, although this can be a tricky area.
– The right to be involved in your care plan.

There are also many other rights including equality, but these and other rights can be saved for another blog.

Why was there a debate on the mental health act?

The area many reasons for the debate on the mental health act, the most common being that the times have changed and the mental health act 1983 needs to reflect the changing environment. There are also problems with the mental health act, and I mean big problems.

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The previous Prime Minister asked the Professor of Psychological Medicine at the IOPPN (Sir Simon Weesley) to review the Mental Health Act. There have been numerous challenging mental health cases that challenge the legislation of the mental health act. These cases are very tragic and have lead to many serious incidents and investigations. Some cases have had very long delayed investigations and many patients and their loved ones have suffered for it.

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National MH Nurses director forum – Building Resilience

D_BbtpdXYAEqkWdThanks for stopping by my blog-site. I thought to try and note down a lovely conference I was involved in as a guest speaker, but before I begin explaining more about the National directors nurses forum 2019. I want to pitch some ideas for any unpaid carer reading this blog post. Have you ever wondered what inspires team leaders on hospital wards? Have you wondered about how senior nurses inspire their staff? What makes nurses tick and how do they become more resilient in there roles?

As carers, I often try and get families and carers to become excited about the NHS. If not that, then try to inquire what the NHS is doing for you or what you can help the NHS in regards to promotion and co-production. We carers are unique in our roles and sometimes we stay silent and get on with it, but we should try use our voices to influence health services.

About the National MH Nurses director forum

I now want to talk about the forum which runs each year, I think the one for 2019 was the fourth of its kind. The NMHND forum aims to focus on leadership for mental health and learning disability nursing. It also wants to help spread best practice in mental health and learning disability nursing. It helps bring together those who work in the field of nursing to help raise the voices in regards to the pressures of nursing.

You can find out more about the National Mental Health Directors Forum (NMHND) off their site shown below.

https://mhforum.org.uk/

Plus you can find out about Directors of Nursing for the UK through the forum site.

https://mhforum.org.uk/trust-breakdown

The 2019 National MH Nurses Directors forum was held at Warwick University. I was impressed by the conference center and the facilities, which also had a bar, large canteen and many conference rooms. I was told Warwick University had many conference centers and as a carer guest speaker, I felt I was really spoilt since I was provided a room at the center, the Dinner, Breakfast and lunch was fantastic.

The theme of the 2019 NMHND forum was on “Building Resilience”, which was fitting due to the pressures the NHS is under. Plus if the NHS is facing large challenges, it will filter down from leaders, to senior staff and front line staff and guess what? The patient and carer will be next in line. So I was glad that the National MH Nurses forum raised the theme, but it was not moaning and groaning, we sought to find answers, solutions and inspirations into building resiliance. We do not want nurses to struggle and leave the profession.

About the Forum Chair and Organisers

To open the event we had Mel Coombs who is the Director of Nursing at Cambridge and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust. I felt comfortable with her chairing style and that put me at ease as I felt welcomed. I was fascinated by her inspirational story into the role of Nursing and felt she was ever so dedicated in her field, but more on that later.

You can find out more about Cambridge and Peterborough NHS trust and their board of directors below.

https://www.cpft.nhs.uk/about-us/board-of-directors.htm

I was also welcomed by Professor Hilary McCallion CBE and was shocked that she remembered me from when I spoke at South London and Maudsley carer conference almost 6 years ago.

If it was not for Hilary, I doubt I would be speaking at the Nurses forum that day and thank her for involving me at such a level. Prof Hilary is the Director of Nursing and Lead Nurses National forum, plus she is also a Trustee of Dementia UK and Bethlem Museum of the Mind, which I aim to get involved on Bethlem museum latest project soon, watch this space.

Last but certainly not least was Peter Hasler who I have known for a very long time and has inspired me to get involved at South London and Maudsley as a carer when I first started out learning more about the NHS. Peter has many roles, but he is the Forum Development Officer.

What happened throughout the day

After the welcome by the chair, I spoke about resilience as a Carer and the impact of mental health needs in the family. I spoke passionately and from the heart as I wish to lead by example when I want to raise the profile of families & carers in the NHS.

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My talk consisted of the importance of Carers being empowered to network
My background and the Triangle of Care, plus the Health Service Journal.
Carers Navigating the NHS
The need for support from nurses and also resilience of carers.

I hope my message was inspirational and I felt those who work within the NHS have families and patients in mind. I want to inspire nurses to join and avoid leaving the profession, especially in the mental health field, which is very challenging.

We then had Ruth May who Chief Nurse of NHS England speaking about “Nursing Resilience in delivering the NHS Long Term Plan”. I am looking forward to hearing more on how she can help educate us on the NHS Long term plan. She answered many challenging questions from the audience and I noticed she has her work cut out, but her passion and drive shows that she will make great progress.

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After the break Prof Hilary McCallion spoke about patient Observations on inpatient wards. As a carer, her talk was easy to understand and there was an interest in psychiatry as she provided many insights as to why patient observations in hospital mental health wards was so important.

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I admired her knowledge and energy and I felt jealous when someone in the audience got her the questions correct and won a box of chocolates.

After the lecture the forum split up into 3 work-group sessions. The first session was presented by Learning disability nurses Simon Jones and Alison Williamson from Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust on PBS in Forensic Services.

You can find out more about Oxford NHS Trust below

https://www.oxfordhealth.nhs.uk/

The second Session was on Stepping Up via Resilience through the CQC, which was presentation by Amanda Griffiths and Jane Fullard from the Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Trust, which recently got an Outstanding ranking from the CQC on their mental health services.

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This was the session I joined, probably due to the CQC paying even more attention to the Triangle of Care and being active on twitter, plus engaging with my Carer strategy forums. Amanda and Jane spent a lot of time education myself and other trusts in the room, which an impressive presentation. As a side note, I met nurse from SLaM based in Lewisham who spoke kindly about my presentation. I was glad we had more SLaM staff at the forum and hope they will also continue to engage with the carer forums.

You can find out more about Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Trust below

https://www.hpft.nhs.uk/

The third and final session was on How do mental health practitioners understand & experience resilience which was presented by Simon Wharne of Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. I have nothing but admiration for Sussex staff and their CEO Sam Allen who has supported my work for quite while and they are heavy advocates of Triangle of Care. I will never forget Sussex involving me as a carer at their event a while ago.

You can find more about Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

https://www.sussexpartnership.nhs.uk/

After a tasty lunch at the conference center, I got the feeliing at ate too much and it made me sleepy, but I couldnt help myself as I networked with NHS staff from other trusts. There are going to be some exciting projects coming up soon.

The forum moved on to Resilience in your NHS Career Journey, were we got to hear personal stories from Mel Coombs, Christine Hutchinson who is the Nurse on Learning Disability at Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust and Francis Adzinku who is the Service Delivery Director at Oxleas NHS Foundation trust.

You can find out more about Lancashire and Oxleas below.

https://www.lancashirecare.nhs.uk/

http://oxleas.nhs.uk/

I would like to give Special thanks to Warwick university and Radcliff conference center as I found the food, facilities and guest room excellent.

How I felt about the event.

I was delighted to be invited to participate in such an influencial nursing forum. If I did not blog on such a forum, it really would have been a missed opertunity. I felt the event was very well organised and kept to time.

I enjoyed the art work of the event done by Dr Pen Mendonca.  The art really summed up the day as words cannot always be the best representation of describing things.

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I hope to meet up again with Prof Hilary McCallion again over at SLaM and most of all I was impressed by the caring attitude of the audience making me feel welcomed as a carer among friends.

I would like to mention Lookout for my next blog which will be a video timeline of UK nursing throughout the ages.

Thank you for reading.

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National Co-Production week 2019

10177241_747738765268892_5890142387668348507_nWelcome to another blog by Matthew Mckenzie unpaid carer for someone close. Most of my website focuses on unpaid carers caring for someone with mental health needs and healthcare in general. I do not just often blog and post, I try to be active out in the community. I have been runinng carer strategy forums close to 4 years to seek co-production and engagement from those who provide health and social care.

Engagement from my local mental health trust has been fairly good, although getting people’s time is not easy, but engagement from commissioners is even more difficult, perhaps not enough staff perhaps. Co-production with the CCG’s and council has been very slow and sometimes I am wondering if it is valued, although I hear of some good works, I still feel its lacking.

Did you know that from the 5th of July it is National Co-Production week? This is the week were those who use services and their unpaid carers can use their voices to express what they know or want to understand about co-production. It is also a chance for health professionals to showcase their co-production examples and also learn how to increase co-production.

What is co-production?

Unfortunately co-production can be a loose term and is used all too frequently. To strip it down to its basic premise. It could be defined as “users of a system joining together to influence the way that services are designed, commissioned and delivered”. Still, such a term cannot be agreed by everyone and the meaning of co-production might chance over time.

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Even more importantly, co-production aims to shift the culture of power towards the end users, because the problem is what health commissioners and designers feel on who is experienced to create policies and commission services. It sometimes is not always health professionals and commissioners fault, as co-production becomes difficult if only a few users want to be involved.

This is one of the reasons why National co-production week helps to try educate others on the importance of co-production. It should be a time where patients and carers focus on what we can do, rather than what is always being done to us.

A culture problem

Health services, social care and psychiatry often suffer from a problem of a top down organisational structure. Only the experts know best and there is pressure for them to produce results. If its not about saving costs and producing quality results, its also the culture of the health professionals being highly educated to know what is best. History unfortunately has shown the mistakes where the culture of who knows best can do untold amount of damage to the community. The culture barrier can stop/limit the end user or community from using their voices to get involved and tackle inequalities of health and social care.

Co-production-ladder

Too often health professionals and commissioners have the idea that because the end user was not educated about health and social care, that some health experts feel end users do not have anything to contribute. The policies, practices and principles are guarded for dear life and the impact on the community is limited.

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Health and well-being in the community

https___cdn.evbuc.com_images_50751415_246297577353_1_originalI recently came back from an event held by an award winning social consultancy called “We Coproduce”. The event was a 2 day look at Trauma and its causes due to the tragady of Grenfell Tower, it was one of the best times for the community over in the London borough of Kensington and Chelsea. When I arrived at the event, I was amazed to see how many of the public turned up and how many were interested in the talks.

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