Category Archives: Lewisham BME Mental Health Carers Forum

Lewisham BME MH Carer/SU Forum June Update 2018

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Hello everyone, welcome to the latest update for the Lewisham BME mental health carers forum. This forum took place on the 29th of June over at Family Health Isis. This particular forum has been running since last summer 2017.

There has been changes at the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation trusts structure where they are moving towards borough based services. The members of the forum were interested in how the changes would reflect on services. So the main aim of the forum that particular Friday was to try and discuss who the members would like to have engaged with on future forums.

The members of the forum were hoping that the mental health police lead for Lewisham would attend, however that has been moved to month of October. The members are interested to hear about the Mental Health Act and centralised place of safety, but emotions are strong regarding the recent death of Kevin Clark, who also was a member of Family Health Isis.

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Members was interested from hearing about how carer leads over at the Ladywell unit were engaging with families and carers. Members of the forum were wondering if there would be a carers lead in the borough. Others were interested too see if a medical director for Lewisham would engage with the forum.

One member is very active with Lewisham Mind and wants them to engage with the forum. There was a discussion on how Lewisham Mind works with the BME community. There was also a discussion regarding NHS staff morale within Lewisham so the forum would like to hear from HR this is because of the worry of bank staff not knowing what is going on.

Management from Family Health Isis would also like senior managers from lewisham CCG to engage with the forum, although they were happy that lewisham CCG is working hard with service users there should be some engagement for BME Family and carers.

The forum is pleased to hear that a carers support group will eventually take form over at the Ladywell unit in the coming months. This concludes the update from the Lewisham BME mental health carers forum.

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Lewisham BME MH Carer/SU Forum May Update

Welcome back to a quick update on one of the mental health carer forums I chair. This particular forum involves unpaid BME carers and those using or have used the mental health system. This is the only forum which involves ethnicity at it’s core.

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Lewisham is a very diverse borough and there is a high rate of mental health representation amongst the afro/carribean population. The forum has been running since last year and we have made a lot of progress, especially through engagement.

The forum runs once a month, usually on a Friday. The main topic for the May BME forum was on the SLaM quality report on the “Quality Priority setting for 2018/19”. All 4 of the Mental Health forums had a chance to give feedback on the mental health services South London & Maudsley provides regarding quality improvement. Despite feedback having to be rushed, I am grateful that the board has given the forums opportunity to provide feedback.

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The report is an 8 page breakdown of where feedback is given in regards to improving quality of services at the trust. The BME MH forum meeting held on the 25th of May focused on page 7 of the report. I allowed each member of the forum to speak about how they felt was raised in the report.
– Quite a few had opinions about how medication could be improved and wondered how the forum would be updated on progress.

– It was mentioned that some people would not have time to read the report and it should have pictures, but I felt at least we can have a discussion about the report so members can hear other’s views who had read the report.

– A lot of the members felt it was very important that the board take the suggestion of including familes in services, especially on the ward. One member felt comforted that family visited them on the ward, because they had a difficult time with staff.

– Another member wanted more information booklets, since I had handed them the new carers handbook, the confidentiality handbook and they queried why they had not seen those before.

– Some members want engagement regarding what compliants and compliments are made across the trust

– Lastly a discussion was raised on the problem of training staff to be empathic, especially staff from BME backgrounds who still lack empathy towards BME service users. This requires more discussion.

The forum members look forward to the Police along with the Central Place of Safety attending the June forum, especially since there was concern due to the recent death in Catford.

One important note is the members wish to have a mental health act officer engage with them to understand not only the mental health act, but also how the trust will adopt any new changes to Mental Health Law.

Lewisham BME MH Carer/SU Forum April

Welcome to the April update of the Lewisham BME Mental Health Carer & Service User forum. I know it is a mouthful of a forum name, but I hope it explains fully the forums purpose. Out of all the 4 forums I participate in, this forum is specialised for BME members who often can face a double stigma of identity, neglect and mental health needs.

The forum runs once a month at Family Health ISIS, which is a charity that focuses specifically on African & Caribbean needs in the community. With lack of funding comes difficulty in outreach for those struggling with mental health needs. In fact on my way to the forum I found several unfortunately BME people on the streets clearing struggling with mental health needs and I often wonder what support or engagement they are getting.

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The forum had a good turn out because we have SLaM’s diversity lead explaining her role and engaging with the members of the forum. She told the members about what the trust aims to provide regarding BME members from across the 4 boroughs and listened to us on what works on our journey through psychological therapy and what does not work.

Some of the feedback was on race and Identity.
Problems in reinventing the wheel.
Tracing back issues via family tree structure.
Assessments not flagging up mental health needs in order to access services.
Increasing communication to GPs, Churches, Mosques and community groups.
How people need to be involved and sharing power with those wanting to shape services.

The members of the forum hope SLaM’s diversity lead comes back to work with us on tackling such issues.

During the forum, I was happy to see Lewisham CCG turn up and take notes since they were interested in what was going on. They will get back to me later, but I am happy they are becoming more involved.

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We also had a healthy eating session from Healthwatch Lewisham who spent a good hour speaking to members about what foods contain, how foods can be categorised and we also spent time making a healthy fruit kebab.

All of the food was provided by Lewisham Tesco, which helps organisations strengthen community spirit and involvement. The forum members appreciated healthwatch Lewisham’s healthy eating workshop and they have been very good in engaging with the BME forum.

This concludes the update for the Lewisham BME MH Carer/SU forum.

Lewisham BME Mental Health Carer/SU Forum March Update 2018

Welcome to the March update of the Lewisham Mental Health Carer forum. This forum is filled with unpaid carers supporting someone close suffering mental health needs. We come together each month to discuss issues, work out what is working for Carers and service users agmonst the BME community and be engaged by our local mental health trust, CCG and third party providers.

This month we had the Clinical Service Lead for Assessment and Liaison based in Lewisham. He spoke about the kinds of services provided for lewisham resisdents who have mental health needs. We also discussed the use of Increasing Access to Psychology Therapies and how to access such a service.

The discussion moved onto why BME groups were not accessing such services and if there were thoughts and ideas of how mental health staff treat BME service users and their carers. Group members felt because of bad experiences, even young BME groups tend to stay away from services due to fear of trauma. The group queried how many people were being assessed in the borough of Lewisham, but I reminded that we need to examine the report “Meeting the public sector equality duty at SLaM”.

Some of the members would like to have the Patient & Public Involvement Lead for the Acute ward services back again to talk about further updates about the Acute ward services.

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More discussions were focused on the services provided at Southbrook road and the BME Service user/carer forum were handed out updates from the meeting in Feburary. The group were very pleased in how the report was laid out and presented and would like such a format to continue.

A large part of the discussion at the March forum centered on experiences with the police and how some members ended up at the Ladywell Unit. There is distrust from some members of the forum about the police, especially due to the recent death of a mentally unwell person brought in by the police. I however reminded the group, that engagement from SLaM’s Central place of Safety and the police mental health lead would help shape views and experiences. The forum looks forward to engagement from Lewisham Police & SLaM in the comming months.

Some of the members discussed the need for therapy/counselling and felt it was lacking in SLaM, they felt the need for such services due to trauma and bad experiences. Members of the forum were not interested in family therapy all the time and would want some counselling and engagement on how to understand their care plans.

BME MH Carer forum update February 2018

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Welcome to the February update of the Lewisham BME mental health carers forum. I know the title of the group in lewisham is very long, but it does cover the aspects of Black Minority Ethnic and mental health.

Out of the 4 carer forums I chair in South London, this one is a mix of service users and carers. The forum started last year, so it is fairly new. The older forum which is the Lewisham Carers MH forum has been running close to 2 years.

On the february update, we were joined by South London and Maudsley’s Patient and Public involvement lead Alice Glover. I have been on many of Alice’s involvement groups for some years, so it was great to get support from her in which she contributed to the forum. Her task for the february forum was on how can the South London trust support this particular forum.

We all decided that perhaps each month would have a representative from the trust to speak to the forum and engage with matters arising or even compliments. There was some frank discussion on that day as a majority of experiences were about the police. Other important discussions related to medication, education about mental health, difficult experiences and who would engage with the forum in future.

Other interesting discussions were on the courses available at the SLaM recovery college and the new Black Thrive intiative event, which will take place on the 14th of March. See link for more details.

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The involvement lead presented on getting involved with the trust, which one of the members was very interested in doing. Other leaflets and cards were handed out about trust, including membership which gives patients, staff and carers a more powerful voice regarding the direction of the trust.

The forum slightly over ran, but in the end a lot of progress was made and we all appreciated Alice engaging with the BME forum.

BME Mental Health Carer forum update January 2018

Welcome back to the 2nd blog of 2018. This particular blog post is a brief update to one of the carer forums I chair in South London. The forum is the BME Mental Health Carer forum in Lewisham. This forum gives a chance for both carer and patient/service user to engage with service providers on mental health matters.

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September update of the BME carers forum

IMG_20171027_115343This blog post is an update of September’s Lewisham BME carers forum. This is one of the four carer forums I am involved with and it is held over at a community centre called Family Health ISIS. The BME Carers forum was set up to provide a platform of engagement, empowerment, updates and issue raising out in the community.

It is important to note that the forum focuses on black African & Caribean carers who support/care for those suffering from mental illness. This is also one of the forums that has a mixture of carers and those with lived experience.

For September we were forunate enough to have engagement from Lewisham & Bromely Healthwatch. Marzena the community engagement officer came along to speak about what Healthwatch is all about and their mission to let others know about the health services available to them. Basically Healthwatch works to help local people get the best out of their local health and social care services.

As in the name, Lewisham & Bromely Healthwatch are covering two south east London boroughs, so they have a large area to cover.

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I felt that it is important all four of the carer forums have a link to their local healthwatches because many issues raised in the forums can be of great importance to such community organisations. It is important to note not all healthwatches are alike and they tend to work differently in each borough.

Marzena updated the forum about health services in the borough of Lewisham, but also spoke about the duties of healthwatch and what meetings they attended. Healthwatch have stronger connections to the health commissioners and other health and wellbeing committees.

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There was many passionate discussions about the issues members of family health ISIS are going through and I hope other guest speakers can work with the forum to tackle such problems.

Marzena also spoke about looking after your health and mentioned diabetes groups and support.  Healthwatch promoting diabetes peer support groups in the area.  Healthwatch also gave away some free products such as pens and hand sanitizers.

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I am grateful for Healthwatch for taking the time to engage with the BME mental health carer forum and hope they can attend the Lewisham Carers forum next year. Healthwatch also have offered to return to this forum in the new year.