Tag Archives: bme carers

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.

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Lewisham BME Mental Health Carers Forum September

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Welcome to Septembers Lewisham BME MH Carers Forum. Yes, I know it is a long title for the forum, but nevertheless the importance of unpaid BME mental health carers cannot be understated. The reason I set up the forum was to allow BME carers the platform to discuss issues, engage with those responsible for equality and diversity and also educate other carers who are not aware of their role or problems they may face.

To Watch the video version, click below.

The Lewisham BME MH Carers forum runs from the Lee centre over in Lewisham. On the agenda for September was an introduction on why the forum was set up, its requirements and a talk about race, equality and diversity from our Local mental health trust’s equality lead Macius Kurowski.

So why the need for such forum?

– We have no idea how many BME Carers/Service users in Lewisham have any idea or influence on Mental Health services.

– There is a high rate of BME Mental Health carers, due to the high rate of BME service users & those not using the services.

– Mental Health BME carers need some empowerment in their role.

– Services have suffered from cuts, carers need to act in order to support everyone.

– Lambeth is now on the map for a big push on BME mental health focus, but where is Lewisham where the population is very diverse?

Eventually Macius South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust Equality lead spoke about his role at the trust, why it was needed and the importance of race and equality. At the first BME Carers forum, we discussed his report about Meeting the public sector equality duty at SLaM. So we felt it was important we should engage and hear more from the trust’s equality lead.

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Macius mentioned that it is important we examine, discuss and understand the report since it will help us all in our roles. He did feel that as a forum, when it comes to finding about the data regarding the number of BME service users and carers, it can be complex. Macius stated that SLaM is doing a number of good things in picking up data e.g. (quality improvement meetings) and engaging with the public, but there is still more work to be done.

We were grateful for Macius to engage with the forum and look forward to him returning early next year. This concludes the update for September’s Lewisham BME Mental Health Carers forum.

Lewisham BME Mental Health Carers Forum July 2017

handsWelcome to the update for July 2017 of the Lewisham BME mental health carers forum. This is the first BME Mental Health forum for carers in this borough. The forum is run in conjunction with Family Health ISIS who provide community support for those in mental distress and also advocate for their unpaid carers.

To watch the video update, please click on the video below.

The forum chaired by myself examined how the forum should take place and why such a forum should exist. In the discussion it was clear that we feel we have no idea how many BME Carers in Lewisham. We also feel that perhaps there is limited influence BME carers have on Mental Health services.

Mental Health BME carers need some empowerment in their role and hopefully the forum can be a physical platform to allow such carers to engage and empower themselves.

There of course is a large community BME in the London borough of Lewisham. Plus with a history of discrimination, stigma and lack of understanding of mental health, which BME communities can experience, the forum wishes to investigate what causes such issues and how could they be tackled.

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Other reasons for the creation of the BME carers forum is that a high rate of the BME community using the mental health services. We unfortunately do not know the number, so we should query data, which Healthwatch could provided some assistance.

The reasons for the forum are numerous, so I could not list them all down, however lastly there has been several studies and research requiring input from BME communities, but with minimal reach. Why?

Questions and issues

Some questions were raised during the forum e.g.

  • What is the quality improvement for BME carers?
  • Who is monitoring the data?
  • Plus there should be a breakdown of the data.

A Lot of the discussion focused on the stigma experienced by BME lived experienced and their carers. We all told stories of what it was like to be a BME Mental Health carer and stigma was a common theme.

We felt lack of education and information on what mental health means could be affecting the BME community. There also needs to be a range of mental health education for young BME groups, but the forum wondered how this is going to progress.

One thing, which the forum members felt was that there seems to be an issue with mental health jargon. The theme kept occurring when exploring BME mental health carer issues.

We looked at who should engaged with the forum and due to browsing through the “Meeting the public sector equality duty at SLaM 2014” – The Equality Manager, Organisation and Community SLaM was suggested.

Also the Senior Associate, Equality & Diversity at Lewisham CCG was suggested, but we also need to continue to grow the forum, which must feed for FHI carer support groups.