Tag Archives: carer

World Social Work day 2023

Welcome back to another carers blog by Matthew McKenzie. It recently was World Social Work Day, which took place on the 21st March 2023. The theme for 2023 World Social work day was ‘Respecting diversity through joint social action. Social workers are very important if you are caring for someone. It helps to get that extra support regarding your role as an unpaid carer.

Social workers are becoming a rare resource these days, so it is important to raise awareness of social workers. It is also important to value them. World Social Work day allows social workers worldwide stand together to send the common message of relieving people’s suffering, fight for social justice, and improve lives and communities.

Social works help people with health, psychological or social problems. This in turn builds healthier communities. It was fortunate I was allowed to present at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust World Social work day event.

The event took place at Maudsley’s conference centre “Ortus”

The event organisers used the theme on learning from the voices of service users and carers in mental health social work.

We had some great speakers from that event. A special mention to Jo Lambert and her mental health focus. You can check out her books in the link below.

Recognition Project

I started off my presentation on what I feel was the importance of world social work day. Of course I asked the audience what they thought about the awareness day. I then read a poem from my book “The Poetry book of mental health caring”

You can see my presentation from my video below.

The poem I read was called “My Story”

I then told how my carer’s journey unfolded and how Social workers worked with carer and service user.

How did Social workers helped my role as a carer?

  • I explained to the audience that it was important that social workers are knowledgeable of the services and explained them to my mother and myself.
  • Some social workers saw me as an asset. Some social workers saw me as part of a support network helping to support my mother.
  • It is important social workers use psychology to help heal. Some social workers talked about what can be done, rather than what could not be done, so constantly providing a positive focus.
  • One of the most important roles of a social worker is explaining about carers assessment. The carer’s assessment is an important tool for a carer to learn more about their needs.
  • Lastly referring me on to carer support was invaluable
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All in all the NHS Maudsley gave me a powerful voice to promote my voice as a former mental health carer. I hope awareness of social workers continue to grow

Review of Kingston – Real Estate Poetry Project

Welcome back to another carer blog by Matthew McKenzie

It has been a while since I did an event review. To be honest I ought to be attending a lot more events, especially things to do with mental health awareness, carer awareness or even book conferences related to my content.

Well you are just in luck, I recently was a special guest poet at the ‘Come Rhyme with me’ series of creative writting workshops. These workshops are hosted by award winning poet Michael Groce. The event was brought together by Voluntary Action Kingston.

There often can be fast paced changes in the community, some positive and some bringing changes which causes people to be isolated. Ethnic communities can often feel isolated, so it helps that there are ways to help people use their voice in ways that are powerful.

I have always found poetry to be powerful. The creative writing workshops are held in the Cambridge Estate over in the London Borough of Kingston. I found at the event all were welcomed and the community in the borough of Kingston are talented and passionate about their experiences.

You can see my poem from the video below.

If you are from the borough of Kingston, you can book on the event below.

North West Regional Carers Network Event

Welcome fellow carers and readers. Aren’t you lucky today? I am publishing 2 blogs in one day. To be honest I was mean’t to publish 4, but I ought to get some rest. Lots of meetings tomorrow.

Due to being passionate about carers and passionate about a carer’s network. I was fortunate to be invited to speak at Cygnet Healthcarer’s carers network event. The event took place at Cygnet Hospital Bury.

Cygnet Healthcare look to provide the best service for their clients and this includes those who provide care. There is always lots of work to do, but they keep striving.

The event was called “North West Regional Carers Network Event”. Cygnet Healthcare have many locations, so it was brilliant to talk to professinals and carers about the importance of carers and the importance of a carers network.

I was also joined by another Carer who spoke on the day. Lesley Mellor who is the chair of Dorset Parent Carer council. She has an amazing personality and is an expert by experience regarding care and the importance of including carers. Laura Sheridan who is Group Service Improvement Manager for Cygnet Healthcare looked after us well.

We stayed at Premier Inn hotal which provided excellent service and lovely food. I am impressed by Laura’s dedication and philosophy for quality service and inclusion.

I was honoured to open the event and as usual due to my latest project on carer poetry, I read poem number 27. The poem was called “The Carer’s Network”, although to be fair I was struggling to choose which poem to read.

During the event, I spoke about my carer’s journey, the importance of carer’s being included and involved the audience in a quiz. Both Carer’s and professionals were knowledgable in their fields and were always honest and friendly.

We also had the following speakers

Vicky McNally – Director of Partnership and Engagement, Cygnet Health Care who spoke about the progress Cygnet Healthcare has made so far and the plans for the future.

Kate Mercer – Family Advocate, Black Belt Advocacy. Kate spoke about the importance of advocacy and educated us what rights carers have.

Sharon Spurling – Head of Network Development, Carers Trust spoke about the importance of Triangle of care and how Cygnet Health care are implimenting the triangle of care across their sites.

Overall, I enjoyed the day and enjoyed mingling with the speakers. I think I might have ate too much and doozed off, but that was my own fault. Looking forward to more conferences.

Latest carer stories from Matthew McKenzie

Welcome back to my website. I have been busy working on my latest projects. I am raising awareness of unpaid carers. My speciality focuses on those caring for someone with mental illness.

As a poet and author I have several books on amazon that focus on the lived experience of unpaid carers.

I have just released my latest story, which can be difficult to listen to. Still, it is important to tell things how people experience them. My latest carer story called “Angry” focuses on a young mother thrown trying to fight for the right to care for her daughter. The struggle is made difficult because the mother is angry at the world, but the system is so cruel that her daughter is now at risk. Can her mother provide care in time?

So far I have produced 4 other carer stories which you can watch below. These carer stories are all taken from the audiobook that I am working on. The audiobook will be called “Providing Care & Other short stories”. As usual the audiobook will raise awareness of those caring for someone with mental illness.

The next carer story is titled “Never thought it could be me”. This story explores what it is like to become a first time carer. We all think we might provide care when someone gets old, but life can change at any moment.

Below is another story about providing care. There are those thrown into providing unpaid care because family members feel they are not obligated to care. This story below explores the world of a young girl trying to provide care for her mother, but does her family understand why she is providing care?

The next story below “Digging out of a hole” explores the role of a male carer or what his understanding of a male carer is. The problem is that the young man is doing his role out of concern for his sister. No one else is there to help, so he feels he has no choice. The last thing he is concerned about is being thought of as a carer.

Below is my first carer story which is the main theme of the book. The story below is called “Providing Care”. This story explores the situation of a first time mental health carer. I feel the story below does rush things a little since as I believe the process of discovering mental illness can be a slow painful journey. If you wish to view the story, click on the video below.

Mental Health Service in Greenwich

Greenwich Mental Health Hub is holding a PAID opportunity(£25 retail voucher) for their focus group events to help shape mental health!

How your Services Users/Carers can sign up:


Greenwich Mental Health Hub, 1st Floor, Equitable House 7 General Gordon Square London SE18 6FH


Tuesday 23rd February 2023, 4:30pm – 6:30pm

Wednesday 8th March 2023, 4:30pm – 6:30pm

Wednesday 22nd March 2023, 4:30pm – 6:30pm

Top 10 things unpaid carers struggle with

Welcome back to another carer blog post by Matthew McKenzie carer activist and author in London.

I thought to try promote carer causes and focus on things that I reckon carers struggle with. As usual when I am talking about carers, I am talking about caring for someone in the family or as a friend.

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Whether a person is caring out in the community or visiting the person they care for in hospital, there are challenges people need to take note of.

Here is a list down below

  1. Isolation – Caregivers can often feel cut off from the outside world, especially if caring, hard to understand
  2. Emotionl strain – Taking care of a loved one and being responsible for their health can be very stressful. depression, guilt, sleep loss.
  3. Financial situation – This struggle can cause all sorts of stress, the financial burden felt by caregivers should not be overlooked.
  4. How Caring can impact on opportunities – if your caring, then you are not earning or developing other skill bases. Still caring can develop it’s own skill base.
  5. identification as a carer – people do not always see themselves as a carer, but can lose out on support
  6. Getting access to support – respite, advocacy, emotional support, planning for the future
  7. Strains on Relationships – caring can be a joyful experience, but also stressful, lack of time for friends or family
  8. Being involved in care – confidentiality, jargon in NHS, relationship breakdowns, sometimes being missed in identification. These things can cause the carer to be uninvolved.
  9. Advocating for the cared for – need to deal with GPs, social workers, pharmacists, care agencies, receptionists and so on.
  10. Not being able to Focus on themselves – most of the previous things mentioned focus on the struggles carers face when caring, but too much focus can cause the carer to loose sight of their own well being. It is important to take time out, sleep, talk to a friend. Not easy if caring in crisis.

If you want a more detailed explanation I have also made a video below.

What is a carer – the blurred definition

Hello fellow unpaid carers, new blog from Matthew McKenzie carer activist. I have not blogged in a while, because I am so busy writing my books about unpaid care. The thing is, while I am writing stories about the experience of providing care, I could not help think about the term ‘carer’. I could be more clearer and say what does the word ‘carer’ mean.

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If i Google the term ‘what is a carer‘ The following turns up.

Wikipedia states the following

“A caregiver or carer is a paid or unpaid member of a person’s social network who helps them with activities of daily living.”

NHS England focuses the word ‘carer’ as the following.

‘A carer is anyone, including children and adults who looks after a family member, partner or friend who needs help because of their illness, frailty, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction and cannot cope without their support’

Come to think of it, if I google the word carer then most if not all of the following links agree with NHS England’s definition of a carer. The following links (subject to change) are from

Bristol and South Gloucestershire carers centre on “What is a carer”
Caring together – Cambridgeshire on – “who is a carer”
Carers Trust on Caring as an Unpaid Carer
Even the citizens advice site has a section on Carers: help and support

So ok, why am I blogging about the definition of carers? Well as you can see things are not all that simple. Get ready because it gets political, but that is nothing new here.

The word ‘carer’ is shared depending on who uses it and why they are using the word. As far as I know, carer workers use the term carer. I run a carers stall at some hospitals and people often come up to me asking the following.

“Do you have the number of a carer to help with looking after someone?”. I then explain the stall is for unpaid carers.

Others ask

“Do you have a job for working as a carer?”
“How much does it pay to be a carer?”
“Can you be my carer?”

Well, the above highlights there are some concerns, because to be fair paid carers / careworkers do care for people, but they are paid to do so. We also have to notice the word ‘carer’ carries with it a vast amount of prestige. It becomes political if people hijack the word to push out those who are providing unpaid care. There is a tug of war between those who want to be defined as carer. Do not get me wrong, as many in the professional sector are vocal that the word should belong to unpaid carers. Still, another problem I am aware of is that those providing unpaid care do not often recognise themselves as a carer. Some even deem the word as an insult because they are caring for someone as a family member and want to be recognised as that first. This is fine and there should be little arguements of this, except what happens if the person continues to struggle providing unpaid care? They are not recognised by certain health and social care systems as needed support.

With the blurred term of ‘carer’, it means not only the carer suffers, but the person needing the care might also suffer because the strain on the family member becomes challenging. We also now have the word ‘carer’ being used for those who work in the NHS. It is true nurses and doctors ‘care’ for their patients, but even that causes problems because what happens when a health professional has to provide care for someone at home or close to them? How would they be identified? Would the strain of care push them out of the health profession?

It gets worse, even if you someone become aware you are a carer caring for someone in the family, what are your duties? Another google search of “carer duties” or “duties as a carer” brings up the duties of care workers. So someone provding unpaid or informal care will get stuck, because sometimes they have no idea what to do.

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This is all confusing, I do not have the answers and I am sure someone out there does. Come to think of it, The care act 2014 is under scrunity. The House of Lords adult social care committee released a report in December 2022. The report mentioned that the government’s white paper does not go far enough.

There is a risk more unpaid carers and those they provide care for will suffer. It was stated that more support from health and social care professionals is needed to identify unpaid carers. As too many carers lose out on support, even if referred a large number might not be able to access support. I did warn it would get political.

To be honest, my thoughts on solutions would be education, education and campaigning. The big hurdle is getting others to scream that they are carers and that they need support. The cost of living, strain on health services and pandemic have highlighted the need for unpaid carers to get support. If the NHS continues to struggle it can only mean one thing, the community has to pick up the slack. That means carers will have to do more and also understand the health and social care system.

You can read the House of Lords adult social care committee report below from section 123 – What does it feel like to be an unpaid carer today?


SLaM Family and carer listening event 2022

Hello Fellow carers. A quick blog from me on the latest South London & Maudsley (SL&M) NHS Foundation trust’s recent families and carers listening event. Usually mental health NHS organisations run special events to bring together those who care and support someone with mental illness, especially those using the trust services. I have been to a few NHS organisation carer events, but was delighted to see SLaM were to host one close to carer’s rights day.

It has been around 3 years since the Maudsley hosted a listening event for unpaid mental health carers. I remember the last carer event held over at Southwark community coin street where we had some excellent speakers and the staff were very welcoming.

All of the past family and carer listening event focused on carers getting a chance to be updated and also to be heard. The 2022 event I felt was very different and gave a chance for carers to update each other, especially those who were very involved shaping maudsley trust services.

The family and carer listening event 2022 was held over at the Ortus, which is SL&M’s own venue for hosting small or large conferences, meetings, training courses. I have not been over to the Ortus for some years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which also explains why SLaM has not hosted the carer conference for some time.

The carer event was chaired by Gabrielle Richards MBE who is the trust Head of Inclusion, Recovery, Professional Head of Occupational Therapy and AHPs. So yes, Gabrielle does an awful lot. Her role is also inclusion of carers and patients at the trust. Going back to the event, I arrived on a wet rainy thursday morning, since the event started around 9:30 am. It was not easy getting to the Ortus due to the maze of construction developing of the exciting new build, but maudsley staff were very friendly and helpful in directing me to the site.

The Ortus was very warm and comforting, I was handed SLaM’s latest launch of their Planning for the future bookley, carer’s strategy and emergency planning booklet.

I noticed with all the booklets there was a heavy carer influence especially from those who attend the NHS trust’s carers committee.

As I arrived, I was greated by staff and carers from each of the boroughs SL&M covers, which are Croydon, Lewisham, Southwark and Lambeth. We were served early refreshments as I caught up with those who I have not seen for a while. I noticed also carer governors doing their bit to engage and chat with other carers while also networking. Everyone was looking forward to the event.

The event was held in the large conference room downstairs with Gabrielle and Flora Ezenwoye, Chair of the Family and Carers committee welcoming the audience to the event. We then got a presentation from Alice Casey who is the Director of Programmes of the Maudsley Charity.

You can watch Brenda’s video below

Next was a listening exercise as the hosts asked carers what they would like to hear more about at the carer conference. Next we got to hear a carer’s story from Faith Smith who spoke about her involvement at the mental health foundation trust. A lot of new carers have not heard of involvement in shaping/influence services, especially services aimed at carers, so I noticed they paid a lot of attention.

One of my forum group members was unable to attend, but we got to see a video of Brenda who spoke about the importance of planning for the future. Brenda feels carers including herself must be supported to plan for the future as there is also a worry how a carer will cope when they are unable to care in later life. This helped explain the launch of one of the booklets.

We then got to hear from chair of the NHS trust Sir Norman Lamb who spoke about the NHS trust direction for carers, he also was proud what the trust has done with Triangle of care (inclusion policies aimed at supporting carers), but he admitted there are still many things to work on and nothing was perfect. I felt it very important those who help lead the trust make their presence known at events and also get a chance to listen to carers themselves.

This was when I got to do my presentation, which Sir Norman stayed to watch. All of my own projects tend to focus on networking and sharing ideas. So I presented on the importance of carer networking, events bringing people together and also holding to account. I spent most of the time asking carers to share ideas of what they felt was a good example of carer networking.

I also finished off with a carer networking poem from my latest poetry book “The Poetry book of mental health caring”, which you can purchase off Amazon. The poem taken from the book was called “The carer network”

Next we got to hear updates and service information from Chris McCree who is the Parental Mental Health Lead of the Helping Families Team and Perinatal Community Services. We also heard from Nick Hunter who is the Peer Trainer of the Fathers group. After the talk, we then had launch and got a chance to catch up with other carers we have not seen for a while, an exciting development was carers from the Croydon area started a new connection group, which I am now hosting, Usually I connect in Lewisham, Southwark and Lambeth and every so often I will go over to Greenwich or connect with my SW london group or West London carer groups, but I have not paid much attention to Croydon much.

I have now agreed to form more of a connection carers from that borough, especially since my SW London group gets some engagement from the SW London Integrated Care System and they cover 6 boroughs including Croydon. There is also exciting news regarding those boroughs, but I am keeping my mouth shut for now. In the end, it does not mean I am running a Croydon group, but it does mean we connect more online and it helps that carer governors are present in the group.

I also caught up with friends and carers from Southwark as I spoke to Toni King and Lorraine James who are from the Southwark Council mental health team. I mentioned to them I run a carer’s stall at several accute hospitals and would be glad to promote their service to carers at Kings College Hospital. I also chatted to carers who attend the Lambeth MH carers peer group and spoke to carers regarding the Patient Carer Race Equality Framework. So you can get an idea of what I mean about carer networking.

After a lovely lunch, we got to do another listening exercise to give feedback. Plus we got to hear from Margaret Whipp who talked about her experience as a carer and the importance of connecting on social media.

I often mention to carers that it is so important to get online and make your presence known. Online campaigning, connecting and networking works wonders for those who are isolated and caring for someone vulnerable. Due to the technological innovations pushed from the pandemic, the time to get online has never been more important. There was more exciting presentations and exercises being chair Yoga, Implementation studies helping to reduce racial Disparities, Triangle of Care Updates and also more carer stories.

There were also excellent presentations from Annette Davis who is the chair of PCREF service user and carer group at SLaM, plus she is also involved in the triple leadership for Southwark and also the facilitator of Southwark BAME peer group. Annette presented on LAMB training, which focuses on looking after yourself and carer wellbeing, plus another carer Carole Haynes did a talk on her experiences.

Overall I felt the latest family and carer conference was the best carer event yet from SLaM. I have been attending them for years. I think this one was the 5th or 6th carer listening event from SLaM that I have attended, so I think I know the terrain a bit. The reason this recent event turned out well was the format. The event was very well planned, although some things made the event run a bit late, I noticed the host state we should not worry or panic over such things, which I felt injected a form of mental wellness into the audience. These are things I look for as mental health professionals should practice what they preach. The event was very inclusive so we did not hear endless updates, but the audience got a chance to talk and be listened to.

Luckily there was no shouting and screaming about poor services as I got the feeling there was a form of empowerment and learning, there was of course talks about carer activism, but that is part of the empowerment principal. I also enjoyed the free food and nothing upset my stomach. Staff were very supportive and glad to see me and special thanks to Cath Collins who thanked me for my presentation. It was a shame I could not stay as I had to prepare for the Health Service Journal awards for 2022 (more on that later).

Still there was a lot of talk in my whatsapp groups about the event, specially from my Lewisham group and also the new Croydon group, even now as I blog there are good things being said about the event. I hope SLaM continue the work they should be proud of with the carer conferences. I will finish off with a poem I got a chance to read out at the event.

All my time I have been on my own
Then I heard it through another carer
It seems if I can get that carer’s network
Then understanding my role would be clearer

It is hard to know that your lost in the system
The more you speak the less they listen
I sick and tired of battling alone
As a carer I dont want to stay hidden

Then I was introduced to the carers network
They all said the same and wanted to connect
I feel an inner light that shrines through
And now I feel I am getting that respect

Still its hard to feel part of that movement
Things change so fast it is hard to keep up
If we are not kept ahead of all the changes
Then it is easy to see the carers network breakup

We look around to see other representation
For paid carers, professionals and service users
But what about our own carers network
Don’t unpaid carers also have futures?

Still for the time I have I am not on my own
I tell another carer what I have found
They also join the carers network
Where understanding their role is so profound

Lewisham Mental Health Carers forum October 2022

Hello fellow mental health carers and readers, been a while since I have been blogging due to working on my new book called “Race, caring and mental health”. This book will be my 2nd release for 2022, the book will reflect how mental illness impacts on carers from ethnic minorities especially black people. I hope to get that book out for November 2022.

Going away from promoting my new book, this is just a quick blog for my Lewisham mental health carers forum. A forum aimed at those caring for someone suffering mental illness.

The speakers for October 2022

Marie Cooper RGN BSc MSc (Florence Nightingale Foundation) – Pallative care “walking the walk”
Evelyn Sample (South London & Maudsley NHS Trust) – Approved Mental Health Professional / Mental Health Act presentation

  • Marie Cooper presents on Palliative and End of Life Care

Marie Cooper who is also the Project Lead for Palliative Care Nursing at St Christopher’s wanted to understand the experience of the carer when its come them supporting a loved one coming to the end of their life. Marie mentioned when it reaches that stage, the term for that person becomes more personal as they see themselves more than just carer. They are perhaps a family member, a loved one, anybody of importance to that person.

Marie mentioned it is really important to hear the voice of the relative or person experiencing their loved ones end of life care. Marie started off by showing a few pictures of hospital rooms.

In her talk it was stated that in hospitals, where someone was visiting a loved one or someone who had died. The experience of walking through the hospital or the bereavement suite makes a big difference in someone life, this will stay with them forever. So the project Marie mentioned was “Walking the walk” as Marie and her colleagues would become the carer as they walk through the wards. They travel right through the hospital into understand the entrance, the experience of what that family might be going through as they visit a loved one who has died. Marie focuses on emotions of that time, some people are rushing to get to where their loved ones are, or the people being there for days waiting and attending to their loved one and what support is there for them.

The overall aim of the project is to improve the experience for the family and the friends, anybody. What they did was they worked with 25 hospitals, those being 25 acute trusts over the past and pre COVID period. They have just done the Evelina hospital for Children with parents, which has been a very powerful experience. That hospital is formed from Guys and St Thomas NHS FT.

As mentioned in her talk, Marie literally walks through the hospital, they do the walking, and this would be a team of four of them. They would visit all the public sites, look at the toilets, look at the phones, look at the cafeteria. They would take photographs and eventually they report back to the hospital to get feedback on improvements. In the end it just gives them a chance to speak to the nurses, the doctors on what their experience of people coming to the hospital in their last days? What’s working well, what would they like to see different.

Marie and her work partners look at four areas, they look at the environment to practical facilities, is it clean? Is it comfortable? Is it hostile? Is it something that they would want to sit in which is accessible? They also talk to families to get their experience e.g. caring for my loved one for many years? Can they still care for them? How much can they be involved in the care of their loved one? Then thirdly, what support is there for that person? Have they got Wi Fi access at that hospital site? Can they get access to food? Can they park? Can they shower? Can somebody be their key person? tell them what’s going on so they can support their loved one? Plus what about the care after death? What care is there for the person after that loved ones dying. So they look at all those four elements as they traveled through the hospitals.

Marie should has a picture slide of waiting rooms at a children’s hospital. The experiences when children die, the memories and all the incredible work in children’s hospitals and hospices around trying to contain those lost memories, and about how to show a child are still being cared for after their passing, through the use of fabrics and cots and other furniture. So that in keeping the personhood of that deceased person relevant and respected that the family might be find helpful and comforting in future.


Is there capacity for cultural improvement for the experience of pallative care regarding ethnic minority carers.

Do You get any push back from Chaplin services as hospitals?

I run a carer stall at several hospitals, What can you say to someone who’s going through a difficult time when their loved one has died or is dying?

How can mental health trusts take on the programme? People do not die as in a planned state, but pallative care is a concern due to sudden death or complications from mental and physical health.

One person mentioned that their are two end of life care situations that comes around in different ways. For some people it’s planned that they’re goning to die. Often in certainly adult mental health services, we don’t always know when people are going to die. It is usually quite traumatic and when they do die, either through suicide or premature death, because they’re physically unwell, we are not sure if we have a sort of clear cut response. Often, there’s lots of practical things that we might help families after, but from the presentation there are a lot of things to query.

It was raised that the way carers centers respond to end of life, is that they would not normally stop someone’s membership when they cease to become a carer. Because they know that that’s a really difficult time, and they’re going to need help, sometimes they might keep them for like 18 months after to help them, especially if their caring role has been their full time job and their identity, they would help them sort of replace it with other things, volunteering, getting back to work, that sort of thing. It would be bad pratice to tick a carer off membership if their loved one passed away, but then it is also a decision for the carer.

Are pallative care policies updated at mental health trusts compared to accute trusts?

One person responded I don’t think or I’m not aware that we do have a brief new policy, we have a certain minimum as unfortunately and tragically, a very high disproportion of our service users die prematurely. The experience and impact of death has a huge strain and trauma on the carers health.

As in the past there are a number of our service users who commit suicide and when there is an incident then there is an investigation process that goes into reviewing the care that was provided to that individual.

  • Evelyn Sample presents on the mental health act

Evelyn looked into the role of the nearest relative under the Mental Health Act and how it’s changing in the coming years. She is aware for a lot of carers that the Mental Health Act and the functions of the nearest relative are quite confusing. So she thought that she would talk to us about what the nearest relative rules are and why some people are nominated as the nearest relative. Plus how and what are the rights and responsibilities of the nearest relative and how that might be changing.

Evelyn reminded us that she is a mental health social worker, which means she is an “Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP)”. Now the approved mental health professional historically has been as A role that was exclusively for social workers. Since 2008, it has been possible for non social workers, nurses, occupational therapists, psychologists to have that role.

Evelyn feels what is really important is that people have information about the role of the nearest relative, because what happens as an AMHP is that you are assessing someone under the Mental Health Act, either you’re planning an assessment that’s going to take place in the community or you’ve been asked to assess someone who’s already an inpatient in the mental ward. This could be because they have come in as an informal inpatient, and they are now having a mental health assessment on the ward.

The function of the nearest relative is to provide a safeguard under the mental health act. So in order to ensure that people have person/patient interests and also they have the person’s well-being considered. The nearest relative has an important role other than the doctors who are involved in making recommendations for detention, or the amp who is employed by the local authority to also act as a safeguard.

The idea is that the nearest relative is intended to be the person who is thought to be closest to the patient, and who therefore knows them best, and is able to, to act in their best interest.

When the Mental Health Act was originally devised in the early 80s (1983), the current Mental Health Act, used as a sort of table for identifying new relatives. That table now seems quite outdated so therefore there was a proposal to change the act so that people can actually choose the nearest relative. Evelyn mentioned they have a system where the nearest relative ( Section 26 of the act). says if you are the husband or wife or civil partner of a person, then generally you will be the nearest relative. Then the table goes on from there.

Husband, wife or civil partner
Son or daughter
Father or mother
Brother or sister
Uncle or aunt
Nephew or niece

The issue is that it is a rigid order that is set out in the law that determines who is the nearest relative? And currently, the amp and the patient have little to no say over that.

The proposal is that under the Under the new Mental Health Act that’s coming in; Mental Health patients in advance of mental health assessments, when they have “capacity” to do so will be able to nominate their OWN nearest relative and choose the person that they think will best reflect their their wishes, and will act in their interests.

So this change is going to be significant in the legal situation, assuming that the The bill has not yet gone through Parliament, which is about increasing the patient’s choice, and enabling patients to be more involved in the decisions around there care and treatment.


Sometimes the nearest relative is usually the carer or friend. So when it comes to the nearest relative, could it not be changed to “The nearest relative or carer?”. Because sometimes the nearest relative might be 100 miles away.

Can the nearest relative refuse because of bad history with their parents, whether they’d been abused and they just they just basically have cut links can they refuse if they were contacted?

Do you have any like sort of queries or concerns regarding the new changes to the mental health act? and the second question on is there like a list somewhere on like the duties an AMHP that could be tailored to how they deal with unpaid carers?

Wellbeing skills for Carers, Families & Friends – Kingston

For carers over in the London borough of Kingston. There are sessions aimed at unpaid carers which are informal and friendly. The sessions give practical ideas and tips, based on the latest scientific research to increase resilience, improve wellbeing and manage stress and anxiety levels better.

Please see poster below for more information or contact communitylearningkae@kingston.gov.uk

There is also a link below and the scan code