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.

Too often health commissioners feel that funding community idea is the answer to co-production, when the focus should be on engaging with those who want to engage and help spread the message. It is not always about a cost cutting exercise and people want to be given the power to be heard and contribute to health systems and services.

Unpaid carers co-producing.

It can be difficult for unpaid carers like myself to aid in co-production. There is too few of us, we do not have the time and the sacrifice can be high. As for myself, I feel I tend to get on commissioners nerves as they give me the angry look when I ask for engagement or a chance to try co-produce. My experience as been fairly ok, but I do get the situation where commissioners tend to start hiding answers, do not respond, do not want to be in room, feel bored and evasive. I do not want to have to keep asking MPs to ask health commissioners and hospital leads to be dragged into community strategy forums. This takes up too much energy and leads to making powerful enemies.

Sometimes to be fair, there is too few driving powerful systems that do not have the time. It can be a resource issue in demanding time from those that are too few and want their reputation to be guarded. If this is the attitude of some health commissioners then one needs to wonder if they belong, if there is a sense of identity or if co-production has become rather token.

A need for belonging

It is not about power, we in the community need to feel we belong. The end user be it the service user or carer would like to feel examples of involvement. Since engaging with psychiatry and psychology, some things has rubbed off on me. I feel a stronger sense of how important people act, I can often sense the tone of voice, body language and if the person is being sincere. I am grateful for at least having some idea of those two fields, but it is almost depressing to think education rather than just experience of the impact of psychiatry and psychology is more valued.

I offer praise to those who respond quickly to engagement, especially a lot of staff at South London and Maudsley even though some are critical of the NHS Trust. The healthwatches from Lewisham, Southwark, Lambeth and Croydon and beyond have impressed me due to backing my carer forums immensely.  Plus the Carer Centres who host my Carer forums.

I thank the British Psychological Society for paying so much attention and engaging so much, I am still amazed they have time for my ramblings. I am proud to have support of Carers Trust and support of Jen Kenward from NHS England as they seek to raise awareness of the often quiet carer voice.

I also thank some of the MPs who have to make noise to ask those to attend carer forums, you know who you are. I thank the MPs for attending and keeping a close eye on how the forums are being engaged.

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Lastly I want to thank many NHS trusts who have involved me as their ‘adopted carer’ especially Sussex NHS Trust, WLMHT, Kent and Medway NHS Trust, Oxleas, Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust,  CNWL, SWLSTG NHS Trust and many more NHS trusts focusing on the triangle of Care scheme and especially Ruth Hannan and the work WeCoproduce does. Sorry if I missed praise on others since there is so many to mention.

There is still a long road to co-production and I suspect it might never end, but if the healing results and impact of psychology, psychiatry and health and wellbeing are to improve, we must continue to focus on co-production.

More on Co-Production

Did you know that the Social Care of Institute for Excellence is very busy raising awareness of National co-production week?

If you want to know a bit more about co-production, check out my educational video below.

Check out their site for more information on co-production.

https://www.scie.org.uk/co-production/week

There are also other website and links worth reading during National Co-production week 2019

http://coproductionweek2017.blogspot.com/

CEO of We-coproduce view on Co-Production

https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/blog/2016/10/co-production-inconvenient-truth

Thanks for reading the very small voice of an unpaid carer.

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Why it is important to understand healthcare as a Carer

smallerWelcome again to another post from carer Matthew Mckenzie.  I have done a new video regarding the NHS and why it is important to understand healthcare services at an unpaid carer.

The video covers aspects of querying GP surgeries, hospitals and pharmacies.

 

The video also covers using these services and why it is so important carers review them.  Sorry the sound on the video is a little low as I tried using my laptop as the video recorder, but next time I will use the camcorder.

I hope to cover more videos regarding health services and unpaid carers in future.

Hope you enjoy.

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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Carers Week 2019 – Connecting Carers

Giving help

Hello all.

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. I am raising awareness for Carers Week 2019.  I am what you know as a mental health carer, an unpaid carer providing support to someone with Mental Health needs. I am not afraid to say this, mental illness is very common and can be quite easy to hide.

However lets not focus on mental health for now, this blog is about carers week 2019. I thought it worth to use my time to promote the cause of Carers Week 2019.

If you want to watch my video blog, please click the video below to play it.

Carers Week is an annual campaign to raise awareness of caring, highlight the challenges unpaid carers face and recognise the contribution they make to families and communities throughout the UK. It also helps people who don’t think of themselves as having caring responsibilities to identify as carers and access much-needed support.

Carers week runs from June 10 – 16th. Carers week 2019 has the theme of “Getting Carers Connected in their communities”….and boy don’t carers need it.

Here are some facts about carers

  • A carer is someone looking after someone close suffering physical or mental health, or even both.
  • There are around seven million carers in the UK
  • Carers save the economy £132 billion per year, an average of £19,336 per carer
  • There are many types of carers, Young carers, Mental Health carers, Older carers, remote carers and more.
  • 68% of young carers are bullied in schools (taken from Carers Trust website)
  • Caring can unfortunately reduce carers ability to socialise and network, carer stigma can make that worse, especially if caring for someone with complex needs.
  • Connecting carers to communities can educate communities about carers, about the isolation and stigma carers can face. A caring community is in everyone’s benefit.

How can you support Carers week 2019?

  • If you are a carer or not, try ask what your MP is doing to support Carers in your area?
  • You could try speak at an event, or attend an event about carers.
  • If you want to keep it on the down low, try educate yourself about carers week, check out the carers week website Carers Week 2019
  • You could also Make a pledge on the Carers Week website.

Anyway I hope to do more video blogs soon, lots to do and say, and lots to say and do. Promotion of carers, mental health, psychology and psychiatry and the NHS can be so important.

 

Sometimes us unpaid carers need to step up

smallerHello again, I have not blogged in a while, because being so active in my area due to attending events, running carer strategy forums and networking like hell. I know the title might seem a little off putting, but in my long experience of being involved in health and mental health services as an unpaid carer, there are a few things I have noticed.

Just to note, I am writing as an unpaid mental health carer, basically a carer supporting someone close who has mental health needs. Unpaid carers struggle quite a bit to get noticed, their culture is to put the ‘cared for first’ and themselves last. Perhaps it is a respected human trait, carers come with a big heart, but it does come with some risks. This is what I will be blogging about today.

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Poem – She Never Gave up

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Welcome back to my carer blog.   I guess it has been a while, but it is creative corner time.  I have received a lovely poem from an unpaid carer who networks with our forums from the NHS Oxleas services.

SHE NEVER GAVE UP

The challenges were bad
They were ever so mad
A Son she loved – lost
In the abyss of madness – tossed
To and fro from pillar to post
The Son she once knew now a ghost

SHE NEVER GAVE UP

Despite being banished from the lips of her Son
She faced the choice and won
Won the many fights but not the War
Against his brain so horribly sore
Deep inside she could see
The ghost of her Son fighting to be free

SHE NEVER GAVE UP

Poem by – Elsie Cronin

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Carer engagement – What works?

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Welcome back to another blog post from an unpaid mental Health carer. Just a day ago of this blog post, I attended and spoke at the South London & Maudsley trust Psychology and Psychotherapy conference 2019. It’s theme for this year was on involving families and carers. I was excited to be part of the event to get my thoughts out to the audience and on reflection, I felt I pulled no punches. With over 20 years of unpaid carer experience, I have seen and experienced quite a lot in regards to carer involvement and I expect there is more to come. One day I should write a book about it, but this is probably a very long way off.

Still, I feel a lot is at stake and there are times we have to be passionate because we are dealing in peoples lives, since that is the nature of business. Connecting with others at a deep, but difficult level. However when things work out, the rewards pay very high because we can reuse what we have learnt. Yes, I am talking about psychology and psychotherapy. I am no expert in these subjects, but being involved at the NHS trust and in the community for long, I suspect that I have been exposed to such powerful, wonderful and mysterious methods.

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