Category Archives: Lewisham BME Mental Health Carers Forum

Lewisham BAME MH Carer Forum October 2020

Welcome to the October edition of the Lewisham BAME Mental Health carer forum. Its a bit of a mouthful of a forum, but this is the only BAME carer forum I have out of the other 5 carer groups I run.

For the October carer forum, Carers UK were kind enough to lend their Policy and Public Affairs person to the group. Ruby Peacock presented on what Carers UK have been doing for carers up till the coronavirus situation. We were also joined by Dr Siobhan O’Dwyer who is a Senior Lecturer in Ageing & Family Care at the University of Exeter. Dr Siobhan was joined by Artist Leo Jamelli who is working with Dr Siobhan to raise the profile of carers using art. More on that later.

For the forum we were joined by the usual carer members and some newer members, also in attendance was Debora Mo who is Greenwich CCG engagement lead. We were also joined by Nathan Lewis the Community Outreach Manager for Samaritans Lewisham, Greenwich & Southwark Branch. In attendance was Sophie the patient engagement officer from Healthwatch Lewisham who was the third and final speaker at the forum. We were also joined by Lisa Fannon who works for Lewisham’s Public Health and is very interested in how health and mental health is affecting Lewisham’s community especially when it comes to poverty. We were also joined by a governor from Guys and St Thomas NHS Trust who engages with residents of Lewisham, Wandsworth, Westiminister, Southwark & Lambeth on health matters.

UPDATE FROM RUBY PEACOCK.

Up first to speak was ruby from Carers UK. If you do not know already CarersUK is a leading national charity fighting on behalf of the 6 million+ unpaid carers. Ruby kindly attended the forum to update members on CarersUK latest intiatives.

One of the projects that CarersUK have run is called “Entitled harmony voices”, which looks at the experiences of BAME Carers. So as a kind of starting point, CarersUK not only examines the situation of carers, but also BAME carers from the 2011 census. Since the census is fairly old, Ruby admitted that some of the numbers she is presenting on is a bit out of date. She is going to try and talk as well about a little bit of the research CarersUK has done during covid-19.

CarersUK did some research for Carers Week this year looking at the number of carers during the pandemic, not only has the number of carers increased more generally in the population, just because of the aging population, but also because our health and social care systems have been underfunded.

Ruby pointed out that there is even more pressure on family carers and how our demographic will generally have changed. There has also been an increase in the number of carers more generally and she estimates to be about 17 % of the population that being 9.4 million people.

She also found 4.5 million people became carers during COVID-19, because there were people who were shielding who weren’t necessarily needing care for. There were also people who had COVID to add to the required care afterwards.

Ruby would estimate rather than the being half a million BAME carers, we would say it was closer to about 1.3 million carers at the moment. And so in terms of kind of what the demographics look like, there is a spread about the amount of carer that people have provided. So for the majority of people whether they are BAME carers or the general carer population are providing kind of zero to 19 hours cqre, there are the lower levels, about 15% of carers provide between 20 and 49 hours of care, and about 21% provide over 60 hours, which is really in significantly higher numbers. Ruby estimated that about 10% of the BAME population are caring around the clock.

Ruby continued that there are a couple of things that we know about the kind of carer population, she was going to talk a little bit about what we know in terms of experienced BAME carers more generally.

Ruby knows that carers are often in financial difficulty. And not only does caring come with additional costs, whether that additional heating costs or fuel because of carers transporting people to places in different ways, but also within the house, and with that paid for services.

CarersUK are also seeing that some services that used to be provided arent provided any more. So in the end the carer and the person being cared for or having are to cover costs out of their own money. This is often confounded by the fact that often juggling work and care can be really difficult. So we know that there’s about 1.2 million people who are caring who are in financial difficulties and we would classify that as inequality. Ruby mentioned that one of their ongoing campaigns is to kind of raise carers allowance, which we think is the lowest benefit as of its time, which she feels is just simply unacceptable in terms of providing that support for carers needs.

Ruby reminded us that carers struggled to juggle, work and care, and they found in research that 600 people a day give up work to provide care. It was mentioned that during the COVID, CarersUK have seen the increases being a real pressure on people being able to manage their caring responsibility alongside local services either stopped, or severely reduced.

There are also a large number of people shielding, and although some carers could access a furlough scheme it led to some really different experiences with their employees about what they were and what they thought what they needed.

Ruby pointed out that carers are often more likely to be lonely and that part of that is because it’s really difficult to talk about your experiences with different people. It can be really difficult to access breaks, which means you don’t have the time to be able to invest in your relationship, plus carers can be in financial difficulties, which means you can’t access the same sorts of activities that the other people can.

Ruby spoke at length of the other difficulties carers were facing, a good point was on the real emotional impact that people were on under in the month of April. One of the things that CarersUK found was that the majority of carers and 60% of BAME carers said they felt like they were reaching a breaking point. She felt that one of the things that it’s really important is that we don’t put people in the same situation they were in April. It was mentioned that not only were people incredibly stressed about caring safety for themselves, and keeping themselves and the person they care for safe, but they were also taking on extraordinary hours and CarersUK think its not possible for people to care for long period of time.

QUESTIONS FROM MEMBERS

One of the members thanked Ruby for her presentation, she felt a lot of it resonates with her personally and she would like to mention a couple of things that definitely impacted her during COVID. The carer member mentioned she was caring at a distance and she was very glad that Ruby mentioned the situations long distance carers face.

The carer mentioned during COVID, the person she is caring for had a fall and that he also went out well. He was taken to the hospital, by ambulance and so on. And because he had also has some underlying health issues, the hospital decided to check him out thoroughly. And lots of appointments were made some early in the morning. Plus the fact that he has a special needs, So she needed to be with him as his carer at the hospital during these appointments, to be able to hear what the consultants are saying to be able to ask questions, to give them his history.

Ruby responded that we don’t think the NHS does enough to recognize the role of carers and we’re also incredibly concerned about the change to government policies on hospital discharge, which dont provide and don’t suggest that there should be a carers assessment as part of the discharge. It is important to know who the family or who else is in the home and who will be providing that care. There is still a long way to go for Acute NHS hospitals who are slow to be carer aware.

Another question was on older adult carers. The carer was concerned that when Ruby sends off information to the government regarding younger carers or adult carers. He feels those carers will get support, but older carers will be left out. He was wondering if carer data was broken down into 3 categories as in younger carers, adult carers and older adult carers. Ruby mentioned CarersUK focuses on adult carers, but young carers tend to be the focus of another national carer charity, that being CarersTrust. I suspect AgeUK might focus more on older adult carers. Ruby also mentioned breaking down the 6 million carers into categories would be a massive task in itself.

Another carer wanted to expand on the issue of completing online surveys. She wanted to talk about access to digital services, and or probably people’s capacity to actually complete forms online. She asked if there something about the care coordinator sitting down and having some way of completing that form on behalf of the individual. Because whereas we used to be sitting in an office, and then somebody can complete it for you. And that was fine. but we’re now in this digital new way of working, not everybody has access to being on zoom, not everybody has access to the internet and not everybody has access to be able to print an application or form of an insult

Another member raised the point that the problem that is facing their NHS trust is that because the black and Asian people are so used to the inequalities within the services. They’re not even interested in filling out the forms to be quite honest. So we now need to find a way where there is less talking and more action.

Another carer gave an example of her experience as a long distance carer, while another carer member felt BAME people were being put in a box, but not categorised enough from being different from service users. There was still a lack and understanding of the needs of BAME carers.

With that I thanked Ruby for her time and thanked her for representing caresUK and coming to engage with BAME carers. I mentioned that I hoped that we can hear from CarersUK in the new year and continue relations with the good work CarersUK does in advocating and raising the carers agenda.

NEW PROJECT FROM EXETER UNIVERSITY – Dr Siobhan O’Dwyer presents

Dr Sioban wanted to talk about what they did around hearing from carers experience of COVID. They had a group of carers who they gathered right at the beginning of lockdown and they interviewed them every week for 12 weeks. So every week between April and June they heard about carers experiences. They are also going to go back in January as part of that research and that they have working really closely with different government departments, including the department of health and social care, department of Work and Pensions, public health England, CarersUK and also The House of Lords.

Dr Sioban wants to put together a briefing to each of those government departments and the various charities so that they have that information. They felt they done quite well with that project in terms of helping policy makers and and charities and local authorities understand the experiences of carers.

What she feels she hasn’t done too well is to actually engage the community and help the community see what a brilliant job carers have been doing through this time, and also have tough they’ve been doing it. And so in order to sort of shift to that focus in and work with the community, she recently got some funding from the council to do some large scale art installations to debate the challenges that Carer’s face during this time, but also to celebrate the amazing work carers do and the incredible bonds carer work so hard for the ‘cared for’

One of the things she really wants to work towards is to represent and celebrate BAME carers and carers from ethnic minorities, because she recognizes that they’re not represented in a lot of the research on carers or on a lot of the community discussions.

ARTIST LEO JAMELI PRESENTS TO THE FORUM

Lee mentioned in 2019 where he worked with Dr Catriona Mckenzie and Dr Sioban, the project they worked upon was an art projection of his own experiences of care. The art image was of his mother taking care of his father. The image was hand drawn and shows the human endeavor to continue to care. The art projection is called “the Invisible Carer”, which is a large-scale light projection designed to celebrate the often unheralded and crucial role of family carers.

Leo mentioned how he felt to portray mother’s experiences of care, but just in a small kind of loop. So it’s this idea of she was having to carry him instead of losing him, through also, with kind of medical health decline in slipping through her hands, but then finding the strength that most carers find

You can see the art projection in the link below.

The invisible carer site

what Leo hopes to do these projections is to bring much more public awareness about care, because it seems generally in health services, everyone does a good job, but it seems like kind of social care the poor cousin of the NHS. Leo feels it doesn’t seem to get as much public attention it deserves.

Leo explained more of the visual representation of the art projection and how large the scale of the projection. He mentioned if you look in the back distance, you can see someone in a restaurant, so it kind of gives you the idea of the scale as they are about three to two story is high. The focus for this year is to get a projection of a BAME carer from London to be involved in the new art work, which members were very interested in taking part.

CARER MEMBER RESPONSES

One of the members was interested on how long is this project for? because its possible that covid-19 lockdowns can affect the funding of the project. It was however stated that funding has already been secured for the project, only the weather could cause any disruptions when the artwork is projected on to a building. The aim is to project the artwork in Southwark.

HEALTHWATCH LEWISHAM ENGAGEMENT

Next to engage the BAME carers forum was Sophie from Healthwatch Lewisham. She is the patient experience officer for the organisation. The aim for her was to speak to the group directly to get feedback from health and social care services.

Sophie explained more on healthwatch do. Basically Healtwatch is the patients champion for people who use health and social care services, so that can be carers and relatives and patient service users. Basically Healthwatch takes feedback on hospitals, GPS, opticians, dentists, community health and they basically listen to what’s going well, what could be being done. At the end of every quarter, healthwatch will analyze all that feedback, and then produce reports which is passed on to the people who have the power to make those changes happen.

Many carers feed back about pharmacy issues and queries about hospitals. It was empowering to heave healthwatch engage with carers and I hope we can continue to have engagement from such a prominent organisation.

This concludes our update from the October BAME carers forum. I also want to note that I have released a carers news item. To subscribe click on the link below and select subscribe to get updates of the latest carer news.

https://mailchi.mp/f11c6f942a2e/carer-news-from-a-caring-mind

Lewisham BAME MH Carer Forum September 2020

Welcome to the brief update of my Lewisham BAME Mental Health carer forum which is aimed at minorities caring for someone with a mental illness in the borough of Lewisham. The September forum looked at engagement from South London & Maudsley’s IAPT service (Ellen Heralall) and also engagement from the SLaM QI Peer Project Worker (Richard Mortan).

We were joined by the regular carer members and also newer members including some from my other carer group in Greenwich. There were also some members from community groups including African Advocacy Foundation, Bromley, Greenwich & Lewisham Mind’s community wellbeing group and others.

We were also joined by the comms rep from Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust who was interested on BAME developments in the area. We were also joined by Leonie Down from SLaM who is developing partnerships across Lewisham as part of the transformation of mental health services. Part of her role is to bring together a community strategy for service users, staff and carers within slam.

Ellen explained more about the IAPTs service which means Increasing Access to Psychological Therapy. The IAPTs service has just been running over a decade. They are based in primary care. So they operate very closely with the GPs and operations within GP surgeries. The IAPTs is also now part of the national framework, which is provided by NICE (National Institute of Care and Excellence) which recommend treatments. The aim is to provide easy access for the community to receive psychological therapies for depression and anxiety primarily, but not complex mental health conditions.

The referrals would come up from the GP and people can refer online to go through the triage process. Then they’re offered either step two treatment, which is a Guided Self Help well-being option via online CBT and psycho-education.

Ellen explained that the therapy will usually last generally from six to eight weeks. She mentioned that as with a lot of NHS services, they are fully aware of the discrepancy in the quality of services for the BAME community, accessing IAPT services. Plus when they do access our services, we are also aware of the inequality of their experience and their outcome in poor experiences.

So SLaM have been working on their objectives, but they are resourcing and working hard to look at improving the access of IAPTs to the BAME community,

SLaM are working with our community partners. Which is the big drive for SLaM at the moment to work with community groups, especially with ones attending such forums e.g. community groups, wellbeing groups and fitness garden projects that already exist in the borough. SLaM are partnering up with such groups and seeing how they can work together to bring psychological therapy and mental health awareness treatment to the community in a way that is relevant for them.

Ellen reported that SLaM are also reaching out to step outside of the box and make themselves more accessible to provide such psychological treatments, but also to build more relevant services where to a greater racial understanding of how racism, and discrimination and inequality affects mental health. This helps in raising the awareness of triggers in such experiences. Racism is a trigger and discrimination can also be a trigger to mental health. It is important such forums like the BAME carer forum exist so these things can be talked about in safe spaces.

Ellen mentioned that it’s good to be at the carers forum to talk and network about how how we can continue to become a more accessible and more relevant service.

IAPTs will work with those from culturally sensitive support groups. So there’s lots of different projects IAPTs is involved in. They have become a sort of a broader service that is probably in excess of 100 staff on IAPTs alone.

Ellen felt it was time to open up to questions from the members and attendees from the Lewisham BAME carers forum.

Question and answer session at the forum

The first question was on working with grassroots practictioners on issues with racism, discrimination and some data triggers that effect on mental health.

They wondered how IAPTs is mainly dealing with practitioners and the community within that kind of setting and how does it actually work? Especially with the aim to raise awareness and to deal with the issues of the experience of racism in the community.

Ellen mentioned that there was someone who had been running these groups already. She runs the groups in culturally sensitive emotional support groups aimed at the black and African African Caribbean community, which were 12 weeks. Ellen quoted that the groups were safe spaces to talk about mental health and a convient way to develop emotional wellbeing.

Other questions were on staff and how many were from the BAME community. Ellen did not have the figures to hand, but is bound to bring them at a later date, although she did mentioned about 50% to be vague. Ellen actually leads on the counseling team and because they come through a different sort of training and different routes they tend to get a very diverse range of counselors.

The psychological well being of practitioner to practitioners are now become more increasingly diversity, Ellen might have to get back to exactly the figures, but SLaM are certainly visibly increasing numbers of young BAME psychologists coming into that work stream, where the mental health service have the biggest problem is in in high intensity CBT.

Although BAME therapists certainly are increasing, Ellen felt we’re not there yet. The service is still actively recruiting BAME therapists.

The impact of COVID and technology

Another question arised regarding COVID-19. The carer member queried about lockdowns going on for another six months, he felt carers will come to the organization in six months time, with the community suffering with depression, anxiety and stress. The carer was wondering how they’re going to cope with the extra load BAME carers who have suffered.

Ellen responded on why she is glad to be at the forum. She would like to speak with the group to be able to plan resources. She admitted it would be a difficult task. Within the Lewisham IAPTs she mentioned they have got two priority streams. One of the streams they call priority pathways where One of them is NHS and social care and the priority stream can be tailored to support BAME carers who have been hit hard by the COVID-19 impact.

The carer member responded back stating supporting BAME carers through the crisis is only part of the problem. He felt how can black people know what IAPTs is doing? Especially for COVID-19. So they feel they can come to you when they have a mental health issue and not waiting till they’re in a crisis.

Even the internet can be a problem in itself. If you haven’t got the internet, how do you get on onto a website? So I’m just looking about what IAPTs is doing?

Ellen did completely agree that they are also concerned about people who don’t have access to the Internet and digital services. The services are hoping to open up one of our sites, so that they can do face to face work for people who can’t access digital treatment. They even do telephone treatment which works quite. There is still a lot of work to do.

Other carer members were interest in the size of the Lewisham IAPTs team and how the core element works in diversity. The carer member was interested in how IAPTs is reaching the community. Other members gave some ideas regarding churches, supermarkets and leaflets. Some members mentioned there is a problem with GP referrals and there was criticism on social perscribing in where people just get endlessly referred and not supported.

One other question I felt was interesting was from another carer interested in if there is a body? Which has overarching responsibility for your services in terms of any mental health? This then led to another question from another carer regarding when IAPTs signposts people to the other services, social services and so on. Is there an effort made to check with how that signposting is working? How did they actually make a good connection? How long? How long does it take for that person to get an appointment.

Presentation from SLaM QI Peer Project Worker

Next up to speak to the BAME carer forum was Richard Merton whose role at South London & Maudsly NHS Foundation trust is to try and improve service user and carer voices into MH services. Richard started about how they had an event in July, where the aim was to talk about people’s experiences of meaningful contact during COVID and the sort of things that might help going forward.

From that event they took that away some themes and feedbacks. One of the themes or discussions that was touched upon in that event was of how the trust can support BAME carers. So Richard reminder us that there is another event on the 8th of October and it would be great if anybody wanted to come along to that. A lot of the things that was also discussed at the last event in July was around technology and access to technology, plus some of the things that the forum had been talking about.

Question and answer session regarding Quality Improvement

One carer member was interested in the speed of action from meetings as in how long when they have decided what the outcomes are of these meetings? The carer member continued stating how will Richard or the NHS Trust be able to really take to put decisions into practice? Because he does not want us to say, yeah, we’re going to do this and We’re going to do that. And then this time next year, we’re still working for the outcomes of these, because of the situation we are were under a moment.

The response from Richard was on how things are going to take some more of a structural change. However the event is kind of a listening event based on what communities asked initially. Richard suggested that he thinks it’s always important to come back to someone and annouce what could or could not be done based on what was requested.

Another carer member issued a request stating that if Richard be sure to send information about the October event through the involvement register. Plus to make sure to use ways and other means of sending the information out and spread it as widely as possible to the community.

Another member of the forum mentioned the situation with local government and the impact on BAME carers. She felt that people are not looking at financial aspect of that being at home and having to be connected digitally. Its like having to use the internet and there is no compensation because BAME carers are having to make sure they have to stay online, to be able to be in contact with all the things that are going on in the community, but the bills are going up.

The community support member continued to mention that she has lots of clients who are actually in financial problems. As in losing money in which they can’t have the internet, they can’t be able to be involved. So what aspects are they going to help people like that, she thinks this needs to be looked at the long term due to the high risk of people losing their jobs.

Richard mentioned that NHS England, have got a branch called NHS-X, which looks at technology. And so that’s slightly will take a bit longer, but they’re looking at questions like the community support member raised. Richard also raised the point that at the trust they had a response to COVID. They have a few what they call workstreams going on and one of them is remote consultations and how we can do that across the trust.

Another carer repeated the question saying this problem with technology and paying for broadband and so on, has been going on even before COVID-19. She had to support someone and still supporting that person after she had spiralled down into severe depression. It seems that one of the causes was the person she is supporting was in serious debt, partly because of phone bill.

One of the newer carer members pointed out that the financial issues have always been an issue. And it’s a mental issue. And it’s just the way it is, and it’s never gonna change any time soon. But the question really is how you change that. And when you use the word inclusion, or what we use when we talk about community, there was a way of taking that deficit and turning it into a positive. This is what is needed to be involved in a community. So if there’s a way of paying it back then it is a sort of benefit. Because then you’re giving help to that person who then learns as if it’s an education. I have no idea why this is not happening, but all businesses should have a social responsibility

Richard mentioned how there was support from Charity especially regarding the purchase of mobile phones to help mental health staff connect more with their patients. Richard admitted charity cannot be the complete answer. Richard also wanted to say that a few of people at the forum came to an event in June, which was a big broadcast, where SLaM plan on developing work streams linking the leaders of the council’s together, and and looking at some of these social issues.

Some of the members of the forum are also members of the Lewisham BME Network, one member of the group mentioned an initative from Microsoft that is currently investing in BAME communities. She felt that it is really significant if Microsoft is connecting with some of the groups, and maybe other providers are doing the same like Virgin, or one of those. She felt that perhaps we could ask them on what they do for charities. So there’s probably things we could do in the community that would impact the way we take on the digital platform.

Other carer member raised an important point on that there are many strands to what needs to be done within the community. But if we’re talking about the individuals, within the community, black and white who are experiencing poverty and no access to the internet and phones. He thinks there’s more of a structural in political resolution to this and not just community based solutions. So maybe talking to MPs and putting pressure on them in that sphere, to look at the whole wide community as a whole, not just particularized issues that we’re raising today.

This concludes the brief update of the September Lewisham BAME carer forum.

Lewisham BAME MH Carer Forum July 2020

enteranceWelcome to the July update of the Lewisham BAME mental health carer forum. I’ve been doing this forum for many years now. As a reminder I run carer forums aimed at carers who are looking after those with mental health needs challenges or mental illness.

These forums are just a way for carers and families to get educated in regards to mental health services, or local author services. This forum is specifically aimed at those from the BAME community, the other carer forum I do is just more general mental health carers.

The BAM community have two specific set of issues Hence, the patients may end up using community servies, you know, high secure mental services. So that was the aim to sort of get them to have have an idea about the services created them, see what’s working see what isn’t working. For the July Lewisham BAME ME carer forum we have the Care Quality Comission (CQC) attending, plus regular carer members, along with Oxleas’s Community Development Service Manager and BAME Staff Network Chair. We also had in attendance SLaM’s peer support project lead and Damien Larkin who is a nurse who works at South London & Maudsley developing BETH the online patient health recording system.

The forum was also joined by Bromley, Lewisham and Greenwich mind Peer Project lead who offers support coaching up to £250 funding or people to set up peer support groups in their community. This is to help peers around mental health and well being, especially during this period of lockdown, but also beyond supporting people within the community around their well being and mental health.

Lastly the forum was also joined by Abby who works for lesbian refugee migrant network. They are one of the partners in the community well being service she is also the Community Engagement Manager delivering culturally mental health services.

Although the forum covers mainly Lewisham, we welcomed a member interested in BAME mental health groups and she is a Mental Health well being practitioner who also provides low level mental health support for children/young people under the ages of 25, vulnerable people going back into employment and business startups wanting mental health support.

CQC Presentation

To kick off the forum the CQC spoke about their role and answered questions. I invited the CQC down because I wanted carers and patients to develop more of a relationship with the CQC rather than the CQC engaging with users of services when inspections of services arises.

Quality-Care-Commission

Natalie Austin Parsons who works at the CQC meaning Care Quality Commission as an inspection manager spoke first as 2 CQC staff were present. Natalie was handed the role of engaging the forum because the previous CQC staff member Emma Mcfarlene only works in the directorate of adult social care, so they would inspect residential services for MH/LD/autism as well as nursing and residential homes and domiciliary care agencies. Emma suggested Natalie engage with us since Natalie works in the hospitals directorate who inspect in-patient and outpatient mental health services

Natalie was also joined by Susan Shamash who I have known for many year, were Susan attended my Lambeth Mental Health carers forum when they last inspected South London & Maudsley.

Natalie was kind enough to answer the previous queries I sent her before presenting to the forum.

The first question was on how does how does the CDC engage with slam? And how does it inspect and slam so

Basically they have a named inspector within the London mental health team. Plus they have a named inspection manager within the same team, that being herself. So we meet with senior staff within the trust regularly throughout the year, every two to three months. Face to face it was before COVID they generally would have those meetings at about 2 and or 1 and a half hours. The CQC would talk about previous action plans. So when the CQC came last time, they asked SLaM to improve this.

The CQC also get any kind of information or intelligence from absolutely anyone in the public who contacted them and if the CQC are concerned they will contact them immediately over email or phone.

The CQC use such information to see what’s going well, what are SLaM celebrating at the moment? What are SLaM working on that they they feel really proud of. And that’s really important to remember that there’s lots of things that could be improved in every trust, but there are also things that they’re doing a great and that’s how often the CQC tend to meet them face to face.

The CQC usually have contact with SLaM’s the director of nursing and director of quality. It’s only half an hour meeting every those every two weeks, but there’s a lot of turning in for information.

The CQC also have focus groups throughout the year if there particular errors or teams that the CQC haven’t heard from them for a while, or they want to hear what their improvements are while they’re doing well. The CQC will invite them to attend, but it can be really tricky, as Mental Health staff are really busy and realistically, who wants to go to a CQC focus group sometimes that’s not everyone’s first choice activity.

There will be some changes in how the CQC inspects SLaM due to a change in methodology. The CQC used to do a lot of engagement just prior to an inspection period, but now we’re looking at trying to spread that across the year rather than all in one concentrated amount.

The CQC respond to the first set of questions from Carer members 

The CQC gave the forum space to question them about their first response to my query. A carer member noticed a criteria that caused problems due to getting access to mental health services. The carer felt it meant that less people are getting services. Therefore, you could argue you’re going to get a better output because you’re dealing with a small amount of people getting access via MH service from their GP, which could lead to a false economy of patients quality of service within the mental health trust.

The CQC acknowledged the concern and stated it was a really important point. The CQC are always open and welcoming to any ideas. on how do you think that the CQC could do to help services improve.

The carer suggested sampling on how many people that got rejected for mental health services against those that was accepted. So to see within those within that range who they are, and then do a comparison, and see if there’s any within those samples of rejection and actually had similar cases.

The CQC noted that it was outside of what they would do for an inspection, however they are to happy to feed that back into their colleagues that go into GPS because the ones at this forum inspect mental health trusts only. This was a very important development as the forum is examining how GPs engage with mental health carers, especially if GPs are the first port of call for patients or carers during a mental health crisis.

Another question from a carer was about when the CQC come to South London & Maudsley how do they look for equality and diversity regarding carers? Because the carer has never seen you when the CQC show that in their report. The carer wanted to know if there is anything regarding carers, The carer also asked about queried that there’s never anything regarding carers or support on it. So how do you they show the quality regarding carers. This question was interesting since a mental health carer policy the Triangle of Care wanted the CQC to acredit such inspections regarding services to carers.

Again the CQC admitted that it doesn’t often come through in the reports very much even in the narrative. This is not only in slam but all the other mental health trusts, which the CQC will go away and report that to their team. The carer was also concerned about measurements of stigma and concluded that when it comes to mental health people have got stigma, especially the BAME community. If the BAME community can’t see anything from the CQCs report then they feel that you’re not interested. How can you be supporting us? If you’re not showing what you’re doing for us?

The third question from another carer member was a suggestion mentioning with regards to doing some measurements. Could the CQC not start with an existing data? Are they looking at historic data or working from the bottom as a starting point?

The CQC responded that this is something that they would do. The way they probably go about this is to have the mental health trust to do this. The CQC would ask the trust if they have the data? And if they don’t have the data, why do they not have the data? How do they analyze the data? And what are they doing with it? Have they made actions realizing that they could or couldn’t be doing something better? So certainly there’s work that the trust will have data that they can use to analyze this, but there may well be other areas that they could collect it.

The CQC present on my second query

The CQC responded to the forums questions and moved on the my second query I raised with them before they engaged with my BAME carer forum. The second query was on “How does the CQC engage with patients and carers during an inspection of a trust?”

The CQC presented that as standard when they come and visit a trust as large as slam, they divide services that it provides into something that the CQC would call core services. So examples would be adult inpatient wards. And slam have a number of those adult community mental health services, children, community mental health services, and substance misuse services if a trust provided. So those are examples would be wide across borders, and across all trust, and then the CQC write a final report for the core services.

There can be some difficulty if you are wanting to find out about a specific Ward or a specific team, and it can get quite lost in a report sometimes. if the CQC finds one Ward, or team that is doing particularly well or bad, then they will write about that in the report. But generally, across the trust this team, this type of service is doing well in this area or it could be improved in this area and then if the CQC need an improvement, they put it across the whole Trust.

Later on they inspect the trust about that improvement and in the report, the CQC have the five questions. So is it safe? Is it effective? Is it caring? Is it responsive and is it well led.

Experts by Experience

When the CQC come in with a team of inspectors, they are joined by professional advisors, who are currently working in that in that type of service in another range of interest. The CQC come in with experts by experience who have used that type of service themselves. The CQC do have people who are carers and who come in as the expert by experience as someone who is cared for a loved one with a mental health difficulty. Unfortunately the CQC don’t have many carers, the CQC have more people who have personal experience and the CQC would always welcome many more carriers to join that process as an expert by experience.

When the CQC come in they interview staff, they look at case records, they look at the environment, they interview service users. And the CQC do try to interview carers.

The CQC admitted that they think this is where they could do a lot better. The CQC request the contact details and the consent to be contacted by them through the trust, which the CQC think can be one of the barriers, they can’t just request a list of everyone’s names connected to services and then call them out of the blue. And so so that makes it a bit a bit trickier. Obviously, not everyone wants to speak to the CQC as well. Not everyone knows who the CQC are what they do. And that that again can be a barrier. The CQC collect all of that evidence and they make a judgement about specific things, you know, medicines appropriate training. So, that’s kind of an overview of how they do an inspection.

Inspection during COVID

Because of the COVID situation, the CQC are adapting the way they work at the moment. So they actually will give them longer time to spend talking to carers and people using services by telephone or maybe conferencing software.

The CQC then paused the presentation to give carer members a chance to raise questions on that subject. I won’t go into too much details about the questions, but they were very good regarding

1. How the CQC can gather patients and carers to hear abour services.
2. The problem of BAME carers worried about COVID-19 and how this will be captured in reports
3. More questions regarding sampling and data.

The CQC then presented on how well SLaM had performed during the last inspection and also responded on how well Oxleas has performed since Oxleas usually attend this BAME forum at times.

SLaM Peer Support lead presents

Next up we have the Peer support lead for the trust present on her role. Her focus at the moment is around making sure that we get more peer workers, working people, workers or people who have lived experience of mental health. And they are trying to make sure that we get peer workers working in all different departments of SLaM. This is so they can offer the lived experience and support people in navigating through the mental health service and navigating their way through recovery.

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SLaM have is what she mentions is a values based measurement, which means that they train peer workers to work to a set of values. Those values are the value of lived experience, developing safe and trusting relationships and strength based approach, anti racist, anti oppressive practice.

Training Peer workers

The peer lead continued that they train people and they do an eight week accredited training. They want to train people who have lived experience of mental health and who have used services. It’s really important to say that just because someone’s got lived experience, that doesn’t mean that they’re going to be good peer workers, you need experience to be a peer worker, and for having lived experience doesn’t make you a worker looking for loads of skills and qualities as well including communication, kindness, and the team working at able to support people with certain kind of recovery.

So what SLaM are looking at is a quite a wide skill set, so SLaM train people for eight weeks and then after that, they are working with teams to see where SLaM can have vacancies. At the moment, a lot of her work is trying to to transform their vacancies into pure workarounds. So maybe they’ve got a vacancy for a support worker, and see if we can transfer them to that team.

Carer members raise queries

There was a large number of questions from carer members one was on what support was given to Peer workers in such a demanding role. This being clinical supervision or regular support, support from line managers, etc, because there may be the sharing of quite challenging information

The peer support lead responded that peers get the same support as any member of staff and will have regular supervision with a line manager. Access, reflective practice, team meetings, whatever it is anyone else can do, but will also be put in regular supervisions that will be facilitated by someone who’s had experience of using their lived experience in the workplace, and which SLaM will ask all our new workers to do.

I also raised a query on why there is either a lack of carer peer supports or none at all, especially if service users get the majority of peer workers, peer befrienders, peer supporters. Carers are also using services, so where are all the peers?

It was noted by the peer lead that it has to be an evidence based initiative. So we need to have the evidence before they can start rolling it out. And at the moment, SLaM has evidence in regard to people with lived experience. So we know there’s loads of informal peer support that goes on for carers and meetings like this, but also just people getting to know one another. In her view, there probably will be. And I can’t imagine why wouldn’t work, with peers is supporting one another. Unfortunately at the moment it doesn’t look like SLaM going to follow that path.

Oxleas responded that they have a different view of carer peer workers than SLaM. Oxleas also have lived experienced practitioners who work in the trust and they have trained, experienced practitioners who have been carers, so they have broadened it so that includes anyone and the way that the roles and then people are employed as members of staff. their lived experience is an added extra. So you might be working in the board or in the health care system, but you are there with your lived experience, whether you’re a carer or a service user, and then that is the extra that you add to the role. Oxleas disagreed that carers were seperated from peer evidence based because how can NHS staff even begin to relate to carers?

There was a big discussion on the nature of peer support and on the peer support projects especially on the peer project regarding peer workers being placed in the Emergency department of Guys and St Thomas’s hospital.

There was also a very good question from another carer member regarding peer support and someone in a crisis, I think it went like this. As in terms of peer support, it’s relatively more needed when, when there’s a crisis, when a patient presents to an acute Ward, and this may be their first very first experience of the loved one, and experiencing mental health, rightly or wrongly, whatever the case may be, that is where that peer supporter is needed.

Plus we had several questions regarding if the involvement register was some form of peer support or if peer support was utilised across the involvement register.

The peer support lead did note that there is a problem on the way that the service works and particularly mental health services is that it’s not a very holistic approach. So one of the questions will be that the services not providing care for carers because that’s not their role. The MH services role is to provide care for service users. The problem is this, we know that if you support caregivers, then that’s going to have a beneficial impact on everyone including the service users. She admitted there needs to be a continued challenging of culture on how peer support works. It was mentioned to approach researchers regarding peer support at Kings college, but the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience was also mentioned.

The discussion went on for some time, but I think I have made this a very long blog post. This is the July’s update for the Lewisham BAME MH carers forum.

Lewisham BAME MH Carer Forum June 2020

10177241_747738765268892_5890142387668348507_nIt has been a busy month for July and I have been meaning to update on my Lewisham BAME Mental Health carers forum for June. I have to honestly say I have finally gotten around to do this, even though the July BAME forum is tomorrow. Lets first give a quick introduction of this forum.

I can feel it can be difficult for patients to know about what mental health services are in place in a certain area, it can be even more difficult for carer’s to get an idea what is out there, especially if there are forms of mental health stigma. but this move in BAME community, sometimes the BAME community can go through a hard time and that does increase mental health issues as opposed and also problems with services that can be seen that we need to make made aware of and how we can work together.

With these issues it helps to have a forum that allows engagement from services. That’s because services change often, especially health services, mental health services and Local authority services. The forum also allows a chance for carers to get some forms of education to learn from those services.

For the June forum we had my MP Janet Daby attend, along with Josephine Ocloo who is a Researcher, and also ‘Patients for Patient Safety Champion and also on the National Patient Safety Steering Committee for NHS England. We were also joined by Donna Hayward who is SLaM’s Service Director for Lewisham mental health services. We also had Sophie from Healthwatch Lewisham who is the patient experience officer, talked a bit about her role as in to listen to residents on their views about health and social care.

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MP Janet Daby

Janet thanked us for the invite to the forum so that she can update members and hear from BAME carer members. She was happy to see lots of familiar faces on the forum. Plus she felt that the forum was important for carers from the BAME background to be supported through engagement from services.

Janet certainly agreed that there can be stigma in the BAME community when it comes to mental health sometimes there is an embarrassment or shame around stigma or sometimes even people don’t really recognize or or get a sense of how they will and and can be supported. Janet Daby updated the forum to also speak about the Coronavirus where Lewisham has provided any support. Janet mentioned that she recently met with the chairman of SLaM sir Norman lamb and is are going to have more ongoing conversations in futher meetings.

Janet feels there’s so many things that she has spoken to him about and but the main one that I spoke to about was the lack of of professionals in engagement with family members where somebody has a mental health problem. There is an issue regarding the lack of empowerment for family members to be involved with the care and the decisions of their loved ones where they’ve got mental health problems. She feels health professionals should be embracing that relationship, rather than being surprised it exists, and also rather than making decisions without having those conversations with those family members. There needs to be more training on getting health professionals to engage well.

She has lots of concerns around where people live in overcrowded situations or where people live in unsuitable conditions and how that will exacerbate the feelings of them being isolated, just as carers are isolated during the coronvirus infections. With all this problems it is no wonder that mental health issues are incresing. Janet mentioned she was also concerned how young people were coping during this difficult period. She felt hard for those people who are unable grieve for their loved ones when they haven’t been able to attend funerals or do their usual goodbyes.

She feels it is really important that when the government is looking at this and she will do her hardest to increase the voices of the BAME communities being heard. Especially in accessing the right type of therapeutic support. Janet mentioned about the £5000 application funding scheme, which was also advertised off her Twitter account where carer members asked her specific questions.

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After a while, we got several excellent questions from the carer forum. Where one carer member asked about if the government understands the difference between a worker and an unpaid carer. He felt the reason why he had to ask was because he never hears anything from the government to say what they’re going to do for the unpaid carers who are suffering in silence at the moment. Janet did agree more could be done to raise awareness to the government about carer identification.

This is not only a problem with carer identification but also BAME as there has been so many reviews including the McGregory review, the Windrush scandal review and others. Janet queried when will the government get on and work on the recommendations of these reviews. She felt that we do not need people’s sweet words or their facial expressions of concern that they really care about the community, because if they cared about our community, then they will put these recommendations in place. She feels there is a lack of BAME people being at certain reviews and it is so important BAME communities keep telling their stories, but with these recommendations especially from MP David Lammy and others hardly any get passed.

Going back to my Lewisham BAME forum, I am open for patients and service users attend and we got a good question from a service user who does peer support on some of SLaM wards. She feels that patients get a bad deal when it comes to their ward rounds. A good example is there can be so many people at those ward rounds and that there is a misrepresentation of that service user needs. There is a lack of patient advocates to be there as a voice to represent them and not for other people to tell them.

Another carer talked about her mother from a different culture and background and felt that while her mother is in hospital, there is some difficultly visiting her. Some other carer also from a BAME background spoke about the reasons why she feels the BAME community gets so many mental health problems she was also unhappy about the levels of BAME community at the front line contracting COVID-19.

Janet responded to the forums queries and questions and agreeing that the BAME community should not be pigeonholed and stigmatized with labels. Plus the problems of PPE not fitting BAME staff and the problems of poverty, which can lead to lower immunities. She feels BAME communities need more access to education, housing and especially health. She also feels there needs to be prevention of the police racial profiling of our community and that there is also a problem with the rise of the far right in the UK.

One of the service user members of the forum stated that she was at another meeting yesterday and felt that we need to stop thinking as a separate unit. We need to think of us as a big community, and this is some of the things she find as a service user as well, is that there’s that separation of hospital care and community care. She would like to see those two come together as a whole and that the care that you can get to can be continuous and not separated.

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Dr Josephine Ocloo

We next had Josephine Ocloo speak about her research and then Donna Hayward from SLaM give the forum members service updates. Donna felt it would be appropriate to talk more on BAME cultural awareness. Donna mentioned that although SLaM knows that a lot of their patients, carers and staff. She feels like there could be more discussions on what what it’s like to be black, or from a BAME background.

She want people’s experience of mental health to be different, but Doona feels unless we have the conversation about diversity in a very open way, SLaM may be in a position of being defensive and still feels we are not getting it right for our community.

There is a problem in the NHS, that we revise strategies and that we talk about research, where lots of things that the forum raised she recognised. Donna mentioned she recently had a meeting with a commissioner who said that SLaM needed to do a research project. Donna felt that we do not need to do a research project. What SLaM needs is to know what the issues people tell us and how those issues start. We get don’t don’t spend 10 grand doing a research project and spending 10 grand putting something right.

Mental health tends to be thought of as it shouldn’t be. Mental health is across all SLaM’s services and sometimes SLaM don’t always get it right. Donna mentioned that she is one of those people who’s very vocal about that. She feels mental health is in our community across our community and across our services, including our GPS, including social care, including education

This is the update for June’s Lewisham BAME MH Carers forum

Lewisham BAME MH Carer Forum May 2020

enteranceWelcome to the May update of my Lewisham BAME mental health carers forum. This is one of my 5 carer groups that focuses on the experiences of BAME carers and sometimes BAME groups suffering mental ill health.  I usually run this forum from the Lewisham Branch of Bromley, Lewisham & Greenwich MIND.  Due to CoronaVirus I have moved the forum online via ZOOM.

As a reminder the forum is not a support group, but a way to connect to health providers in the community. The forums focus is of course on mental health services so our local mental health trust (South London and Maudsley) engages with BAME families and carers at the forum.

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Lewisham BAME MH Carer Forum April 2020

10177241_747738765268892_5890142387668348507_nWelcome to the April update of the Lewisham BAME Mental Health Carers forum. This is one of the four forums that I chair in South London. Out of the four forums, this group focuses on BAME carer developments in Health and social care. The group has been going since 3 years or so.  Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, I am running all forums via my own ZOOM account.

The invited speakers for April was Shilpa Ross who is a senior researcher at the Kings Fund policy team that works on a range of health and social care research programmes. Shilpa was invited to the forum to speak about her latest research that not enough progress has been made to address discrimination against black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) staff in the NHS.

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Lewisham BAME MH Carer Forum February 2020

IMG_20200228_095949Welcome to the February update of the Lewisham BAME Mental Health carers forum. The forum is aimed at black Afo-Caribbean, Asian and other minorities carers in the borough of Lewisham, however I am happy for other carers in surrounding boroughs to attend. The forum is run from Bromley, Lewisham and Greenwich Mind centre under the arm of Community Wellbeing.

The forum is more educational and allows carers to discuss with mental health service providers any queries about services. A high majority of the BAME community use mental health services and some of the issues are specific regarding race, culture and even language. The issues are complex and deep, but discussions, forming relationships, education and working together is the way forward.

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Lewisham BAME MH Carer Forum January 2020

enteranceWelcome to the January update of the Lewisham BAME Mental Health Carer forum. This is one of the 4 carer forums I use to help engagement between unpaid carers and mental health or even health services. I feel if patients and their families are at the heart of health services, then there should be some form of engagement, involvement and influence.   The forum is run from one of the Bromley, Lewisham and Greenwich MIND offices with support from Community wellbeing.

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Lewisham BAME MH Carer Forum November 2019

Carers Nov2019Hello again!! Here is the Lewisham BAME Mental Health Carer forum update for November. This is usually the last forum I run out of all the 4 forums per month. The forum is quite unique as the other forums promote mental health carer inclusion and awareness in the other London Boroughs, but this one focuses on Black Asian Minority Ethnic queries. BAME carers and service users suffer a whole different set of issues in regards to mental health services. Most are complex, cultural and historic, but there MUST be some platform for important parties to discuss, network and work on these issues.

Another thing different between this forum and the 3 others is sometimes this forum is a mix of patients and unpaid carers. I often try and leave space for the Service user Rep or chair to update the forum.

Who Attended and spoke

For the November update we had a discussion from Pharmacist Della Bishara in regards to medication and its affects on the patient and how unpaid carers could and should be involved.

We also had a detailed presentation from Rachel Ellis who is from Table Talk, which is a new initiative that aims to help inform senior residents throughout the borough, with the help of volunteers. Table Talk provides leaflets, information and a table in order to engage with the older population.

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We were also joined by a number of unpaid carers and patients, along with a representative from Lewisham Homes, plus Metro’s Representative who provide one-to-one counselling for people who identify as LGBTQ and/or those experiencing issues relating to diversity, equality and identity. We were also joined by Lewisham CCG Engagement Teresa and also Natasha from Greenwich Carers who I approached to set up some carer groups. We were also joined by the rep from Community wellbeing from BLG-Mind who I will also bet setting up a peer support group.

On Medication

We had a very lengthy discussion on medication with Della. Many questions from the attendees she took away to raise at SLaM especially in regards to clinical trials and reporting on side affects. Carers need to be involved because of the patient might not always be able to advocate for their need, especially if dementia takes hold. I raised with Della if there were studies looking at medication effects on BAME groups and if there is a SLaM trust wide forum that engages pharmacist issues.

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It was mentioned that Lewisham Integrated Medicines Optimisation Service (LIMOS) is working in improving medication safety for older people. Basically LIMOS is integrated across the hospital, local care homes and community settings, which means that, if a care home resident is admitted to hospital, or vice versa, there is a seamless approach to managing medication.

As with the psychiatrists bible being the DSM, the pharmacists have an important book, that being the British National Formulary (BNF), the book is not easy to get hold of and is the UKs pharmaceutical reference book that contains a wide spectrum of information and advice on prescribing and pharmacology, along with specific facts and details about many medicines available.

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Della discussed the BNF in detail and how it can help pharmacists, which the forum played close attention to. The forum also discussed the issue of miscommunication of medication between hospitals, covert medication and the issue of control & release medication.

Table Talk presentation

After the discussion with the pharmacist, we moved on to another topic regading older ages people. This was the Table Talk project, which was presented by Rachel Ellis. Rachel has been an outstanding promoter of senior citizen’s causes throughout the borough of Lewisham and has visited a large number different venus in Lewisham this year alone. As mentioned before Table Talk engage with the public on raising awareness of activities, information and support for senior citizens. This is specially important due to the population is ageing as we all are living longer.

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Table Talk work closely with Lewisham council and with Age UK. The Lewisham BAME MH carer forum were shown several leaflets, which can help older people in regards to meter readings, warm homes, fire alarm checks and transport. We discussed how isolated older people can be in the community as Rachel described more information and leaflets.

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Carer led Support Groups

Lastly for the Lewisham BAME MH Carers forum. I discussed the importance of carer-led peer support groups. I will be setting up several carer support groups in a few boroughs. Usually the forums are strategic and engagement focused and there is not enough time to hear carer stories. In fact carer support groups are meant to feed into the carer forums for empowerment purposes, but there were only a few carer support groups in the borough and none carer-led, which means there is not much motivation for carers to connect with each other.

I will be setting a BAME and a general MH carer peer support group with the help of Greenwich carers for that borough and I was so glad Greenwich carers engagement and community officer (Natasha) came along and support me at the Lewisham BAME forum.

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This will be the same for Lewisham as we will work closely with the CCGs. The forum talked about how they felt about the Bromley, Lewisham and Greenwich Mind peer support group event that was held on wednesday the 27th over at York Hall in Beckhenham. We are very glad that they are able to fund that startups of the groups, however I pressed that we do not really need the funding, it will be the passion, drive and connection that can help, not to say funding will not be helpful.

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With Lewisham CCG engagement, the forum has been aware of NHS England’s long term plan and we have made it clear they need to involve patients and carers in that plan. The good news is that the NHS England’s long term plan is beginning to take shape and involve us, but no matter what I do, I want to connect with carers and make them aware that the health system is trying hard to involve them. I am not sure about the social care element, but at least with NHS England, there looks to be some very good and exciting projects coming our way.

BAME Carer experiences Research

As promised I promoted a trainee psychologist’s study into African Caribbean experiences of supporting an individual with MH needs in a forensic setting. She contacted me after reading my blogs to see other researchers were engaging with forums about their own research. The researcher feels there is not enough literature or research papers detailing such experiences and Lewisham CCG will follow this up with the trainee Psychologist studying at the University of East London.

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As usual I thank Kelvin (one of the proactive members) for setting up the talk with the pharmacist.  I also thanks Community wellbeing and BLG Mind for hosting the Lewisham BAME forum and thank Greenwich Carers for the support they have given me and look forward to exciting projects ahead.  I would lastly like to thank Lewisham CCG engagement officer (Teressa) and the other CCGs for engaging with the Carer forums and I am very impressed with the plans they are looking to involve us in.

This concludes the update for November and I will be preparing for the groups with the support of Oxleas and Greenwich carers.

Lewisham BAME MH Carer Forum August 2019

me_edited-1Welcome to another update from an unpaid carer who is involved in their local mental health trust and communities. I often try and engage with communities as much as possible, be it through running carer strategy groups, giving my views and engaging with events.

For the August Lewisham BAME Mental Health Carers forum, we focused on Patient Participation Groups and also updates from the South London and Maudsley Inpatient Social worker over at Lewisham hospital.

The Lewisham Black Asian Minority Ethnic Carers group is one of the 4 groups that not only focuses on carers, but makes a distinction on their background, culture and ethnicity.

BAME groups are more likely to experience stigma and distress due to cultural interpretations and systems set up or designed that does not take into account BAME communities. Lewisham is certainly one of the most diverse London boroughs around so it really helps that communities get together to discuss and educate each other on issues regarding health.

Lewisham Ward Map

The Lewisham BAME carers forums also accommodates those using services, but there still needs to be a drive to engage with more BAME carers who are very uncertain of their role and perhaps lack peer support and identity.

The carers forum runs from Lewisham, Bromley and Greenwich Mind under the Community Wellbeing umbrella.

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Lewisham Community Wellbeing is delivered in partnership with several other local charities and public sector organisations. We have been very lucky to get the support of Mind who probably have a lot on as it is and there will be some very exciting community projects coming up soon.

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We have around 45 to 50 doctor’s practices in Lewisham and I was fortunate enough to have the chair of one of the largest doctors practice in Lewisham. Alexandra Camies does an immense amount of work engaging with patients for the doctors practice she helps with. The doctors surgery is also a member of the National Association Of Patient Participation or N.A.P.P. I have always said to carers and patients that doctors are usually the gatekeeper to services, if you feel your doctors practice could do more for you or the community, perhaps look into how their Patient Participation group works.

So what is a PPG anyway? What do they do?

  • PPGs offer patients an opportunity to be involved with and support their local General Practice. For the South Lewisham Health Centre. Here are some of the following things that PPG involves.
  • Patients wishing to join must, in order to comply with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), complete an application form.
  • They currently have a committee of 8 patients, including aChair and Secretary.Committee members are provided with written details of their roles, responsibilities and key relationships.
  • They have the assistance of the surgery Patient Liaison Officer, who attends each meeting and provides us with any help needed at the surgery.
  • They have a GP representative (usually a partner), and the Patient Services Manager that attends the meeting.
  • All members are invited to general meeting, held quarterly, and asked if they have any agenda items to put forward for discussion.
  • Members that are unable to attend are able to have a virtual input via email. Virtual members are sent copies of the minutes, which are also placed on the practice web site for all to view.
  • Committee members take on a little more responsibility at the South Lewisham PPG, taking a part in organising events or projects, or helping with various admin tasks. Committee meetings take place as and when needed.
  • Members may be being asked to help out for such things as events.

Take note not all doctor’s surgeries are alike. Some do not have the resources to have a PPG, but it does not stop patients from helping set one up. I explained to the forum that your doctors surgery is only as good as the community that cares for it and uses it.

How can a success for Patient participation group operate?

  • The PPG should try monitor progress against objectives
  • Publicise their successes
  • Involve people and not that would mean patients, especially those whose voice is not often heard.
  • Learn from other groups, usually other PPGs hence the PPG Network.
  • Build on and work with their network of health and wellbeing groups and organisations.
  • Expand activity where possible
  • Make sure to review our objectives regularly

There are only a very small part of what a PPG doctors surgery should work towards. Alex gave the group an excellent presentation and we both learnt and picked up ideas from each other. I reminded the group that they could start their own projects and inquire about their local doctors patient participation group.

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If you want more information about South Lewisham GP Practice, check out their website below.

http://www.southlewishamgrouppractice.co.uk/

Next up was Errol Chambers who is the social work for the Lewisham Hospital Ladywell unit. It was great that SLaM engages with the BAME forum, because I have always stressed the the forum represents empowerment when we form as a group. If SLaM staff recognise this, then they can support us, although we try hard not to be antagonistic. Errol gave us a choice on what information the group would want be it on benefits or on how the Ladywell unit is operating currently. The group wanted updates on the ladywell unit and we discussed changes and progress regarding patients experience of the mental health unit.

Lewisham CCG was mentioned quite a lot as they invest in the services and are keen to see if the hospital is working to the best of its abilities. Many members pressed for a relationship with the units, but also felt that staff development must be key as a good quality service. This is mainly down to how staff engage with patients and their carers.

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At the end of the forum, I updated on the planning meeting for Lewisham CCG’s stakeholder event and also for Lewisham’s Carers conference requested by my MP Janet Daby who is a carer herself. I also pointed out that the Lewisham HR lead will be at the BAME forum for September. I have asked we are updated on the following.

BME staff engagement – What else is happening to engage with BAME community.

Plus small updates on the following.

  • SLaM’s Health and well-being strategy
  • SLaM’s Talent management programme
  • The South London Partnership collaboration (South west london & St georges, South London & Maudsley and Oxleas NHS Trust)

Plus an update on whats been done for staff to tackle.

  • Equal opportunity for career progression
  • Violence
  • Bullying & harassment
  • Discrimination
  • Stress
  • Flexible working

I guess as a carer, I do not ask for much. Still, I mentioned to the group…knowledge is power.

That is the August update for the Lewisham BAME MH carers forum.