Tag Archives: carers

Ethnic mental health Carer Forum September 2022

Been a while since I did a carer forum update, but felt I should do one otherwise I would be distracted by something else. Here is the brief update of my ethnic mental health carer forum for September 2022. The forum is aimed at those from an ethnic background caring for someone with mental illness.

The speakers for September are listed below

  • Madeleine Oakley on her Kings College London carers peer research group
  • Colin King presenting on the Lancet report – Whiteness, madness, and reform of the Mental Health Act
  • Louise Goff on the Kings college London Health promotion Heal-D: a culturally-tailored diabetes self-management programme for adults of African & Caribbean heritage
  • Madeleine Oakley presents on her carers peer group

Madeleine from Kings College London has been using her skills as a psychotherapist to give people space to talk about their experiences, she has found that carers really appreciate connecting with each other. Madeleine also has the lived experience of caring for somebody with autism. Her groups have been for people who are caring for a family member who has got autism. So she started with autism and eating disorders, because there was a lot of research going on about that at the South London and Maudsley.

She is now doing an autism and psychosis carer group. Which is once every Friday morning, a month. Madeleine stated that unfortunately it does clash with my group one Friday morning, but basically, the next one is on the 23rd of October. The latest one has already started in September. Madeleine hopes members of my group can help spread the message.

Madeleine has also been interviewing family carers of people with autism and psychosis. So they’ve got both conditions that people are looking after. She is trying to explore the experiences of carers. How did they get the assessments? How did they get the treatments, how was being a carer affecting their lives?

Questions from carers

  • I started off asking “Is this group indefinite or is it just runs for a set period?”

Madeleine responded

The she wishes it was indefinitely. They are always looking for more funding, but it’s only until the end of March. So it’s a short thing as it is basically part of her PhD. But at the same time, she is applying for funding to sort of make the carers group permanent because the sad thing is all the work that she has done with carers since 2019, when she finishes her PhD, then where is the group going to?

  • Colin King presenting on Whiteness, madness, and reform of the Mental Health Act

Colin explained that he was sectioned schizophrenia within Maudsley many years ago, but what he was really concerned about was the whiteness within the theoretical and diagnostic framework was leading to historically the over representation of particular groups.

This led Colin to do an analysis looking at the start of something called cartwright 1851, which is the first diagnosis of race, which is when the black person ran away with slavery, they were diagnosed with, with depomania, and if you do the travel on the lunacy Act, at the mental health Act to the white paper Act to the White Paper review, Colin mentioned that we still got an over representation or of communities in the mental health system.

Colin wanted to understand what was whiteness, what why was whiteness, such a pervasive, intrusive and powerful intervention is in terms over representation.

Colin stated that some of it can be located in the history of theories of psychology and psychiatry that perpetuate eugenic theories about the black body and the black mind. And these theories emerged in the period of slavery, when there was a perpetuation of a division between what was whiteness as superior, and blackness as inferior. And these are some of the writers from Cartwright perpetuate his idea. Colin mentioned that even Henry Maudsley who ran the Maudsley had perpetual eugenic ideas about race.

Colin was really concerned about what the outcome this lead into in terms of particular types of whiteness, and the outcomes for diverse communities over the last 400 years, but particularly where we are with the activism for the PCREF (Patient Carer Race Equality Framework) and other campaigning groups.

So Colin began to analyze two diagnostic frameworks in terms of why they were leading to these race diverse outcomes, DSM-5, and also ICD-10. Colin mentions a book where whiteness contributes to the legalization of race as a diagnostic framework.

This leads to a problems with ideas that black people are much more naturally disordered, and what’s more psychotic. Colin felt that as activists, instead of trying to change the diagnostic framework, we should try to improve the system rather than dismantle it. THe main concern he was looking at, was community treatment orders.

And the data has continued to show that a particular groups are over represented are usually black Caribbean men, South Asian patients, women, but the biggest concern for him was why is it in 2007, when they introduced something called Community Treatment orders that 92% of them are used in relation to black men. And why is it with restraints show 75% of them have been used in relation to men. So Colin wrote a paper and it was really a plea for the abolition of community treatment order which he interpreted as a new type of slavery in mental health care and needed to be changed.

Colin spoke about the importance of being an activist, but also allowing lived experienced from the community to be involved in training and raising the importance mental health in the communities. Colin mentioned we all have something to contribute and if MH systems and beyond including schools, housing and communities services do not include minority lived experience then it hurts the community as a whole.

  • Louise Goff presents on a culturally-tailored diabetes self-management programme for adults of African & Caribbean heritage

Louise started training as a dietitian about 25 years ago, and then she went straight into a research career all focused around type-2 diabetes. This was on how nutrition and food affects diabetes, how it can prevent diabetes, how it can treat diabetes, She has been doing that for about 25 years now. However through her education, she was well aware that rates of diabetes were were significantly higher in people from African and Caribbean backgrounds, as well as in other minority ethnic backgrounds in the UK.

She then became really aware of contradictory messages from her professional colleagues compared to her own family and my social network. The messages that she had from her professional colleagues and network was that, people weren’t showing up for their diabetes appointments, and therefore, they didn’t care about their diabetes. This was particularly common in people of African or Caribbean heritage. And so there was this perception that diabetes wasn’t thought to be serious and wasn’t cared about. Speaking to her friends and family, particularly people who had diabetes, were so fearful of their diabetes, and so worried about their diabetes, and really wanted information about how to improve diabetes, how to avoid diabetes.

So that really led to her wanting to focus her research career more towards understanding that situation and understanding on what is going on in the health system. And what is going on in the communities. She has been using her research platform to try and unpick and work towards trying to improve that situation really. A while back she received some research funding to develop diabetes self management program specifically tailored to the needs of adults from African and Caribbean backgrounds

The project has the following skills

• Group-based
• 7 sessions of 2 hours – 1-hr educational discussion & 1-hrexercise class
• Delivered weekly
• Delivered using video conferencing
• Dietitian & community facilitators

The program is called healthy eating and active lifestyles for diabetes, or abbreviated down to heal D, but it’s a self management program that’s been developed to help people who are living with type-2 diabetes, to really understand what they need to do in their self management. In terms of diet and physical activity and other lifestyle components to improve the management of diabetes, all the while specifically tailored to African and Caribbean culture.

The program is called healthy eating and active lifestyles for diabetes, or abbreviated down to heal D, but it’s a self management program that’s been developed to help people who are living with type-2 diabetes, to really understand what they need to do in their self management. In terms of diet and physical activity and other lifestyle components to improve the management of diabetes, all the while specifically tailored to African and Caribbean culture.

Louise stated that this is about cultural health beliefs, cultural foods, cultural practices around food and physical activity and body weight. And all of the things that we know about medications and all of the things that we know that are related to diabetes management.

Louise continued she is actually following on from the really important messages that Colin was just sharing with us. when she went about developing this program, she knew that it was the people with the lived experience who were the experts through their lived experience that really needed to lead this project to understand what was needed in a program that would really support people.

So all of this work was done using a sort of community partnership approach, whereby they engaged with our communities, and this was conducted in southeast London.

Ethnic mental health Carer Forum August 2022

Welcome to a quick update from one of my carer groups. This one is from the August gathering of the online Ethnic BAME mental health carer forum. A group that focuses on ethnic mental health carers, diversity, race and mental health. I am being a bit naughty since I have not done an update on my groups for some months (busy working on a few things as usual).

We were lucky to have the following speakers attend for August 2022

  • Dr Karen Jutlla (Dementia Lead for the Institute of Health at the University of Wolverhampton) on Race and Dementia
  • Faith Nyandoro (Senior Lecturer) – impact of culturally and personally tailored music and singing interventions
  • Dr Sheila Hardy​ (GP, Carer and Primary Care Mental Health Trainer) – Parity of Esteem
  • Melanie Crew (Senior Policy and Research Officer at Carers UK) – Carers UK campaign updates

  • Dr Karen Jutlla presents to the group

Dr Karen started out by stating what her current role is being the dementia lead at the University of Wolverhampton. She talked about her research interests which has been on going for 15 years looking at dementia care and ethnic minorities, and what research she can do to improve care. The research then feeds into her teaching. This is where she feels responsible for overseeing all the dementia education on the courses she teaches. Dr Karen mentioned lot of her work is about supporting services, healthcare workers and policy makers to make sure that their services are culturally inclusive.

Karen then pointed out that she invited her PhD students Faith along to the ethnic MH carer forum, because she thought we would be interested in the work that she’s doing. Plus it would be a fabulous opportunity for Faith to get our feedback. This is because the group is seen as people with experts by experience, and Faith is looking at music therapy and the African Caribbean community for people living with dementia and what the benefits of such a creative therapy can be.

To hear more about Dr Karan’s work, check out her website – https://drjutlla.com/

  • Faith Nyandoro presents on music therapy for dementia project

It was now Faith’s turn to present as she mentioned her supervisor is looking at her research interest in dementia and music therapy for people living with people living in the Afro Caribbean community.

Faith pointed out that it is a qualitative study. And the topic is to explore “the impact of culturally and personally tailored Music”. Plus also seeing individual the health and well-being of people living with dementia from black, African Caribbean background.

The group started to ask a few questions on what it means, where Faith explained that they where looking at different types of music in which she also listened to from the Afro Caribbean community, but also Africans include music such as Calypso, Afro beats, reggae and so on to see if that has an impact on the health and well being of people living with dementia.

Faith mentioned what Karen was talking about, in that there’s been different interventions to manage Dementia, and some of the interventions that have come up have been political interventions and medical interventions, using drugs available to treat dementia. There also have been some non pharmacological interventions using therapies that being reality orientations and validation, CBT, and so on. Faith stated that unfortunately pharmacological interventions although good, can come with side effects. So with this, the government really pressing on to looking at non-pharmacological interventions. These interventions may not really need the use of drugs. It can improve the health and well being of people living in the moment with dementia.

Faith continued by stating that few black Caribbean people have access to these non pharmacological interventions. So a critical aspect of supporting people with dementia, particularly people from BME communities is by developing interventions that are meaningful and culturally sensitive. And so in terms of music, which is her area of interest, you can find that the interventions that are out there, should be specifically tailored for people. Just as it is for Caucasian people.

Faith then talked about the different types of music interventions that are out there and what the research has a found out, so researchers suggest that people who engage in arts and health problems are at lower risk of dying and are more likely to report good health. This is because the role of art and music in supporting the patient well-being is increased and being recognised.

The way Faith will work on her research is discussing with participants about their memories, thoughts and feelings and about the music. And this will take about 20 minutes. At the end of the nine weeks. She will then carry out that same assessment that she spoke about with the group earlier. She wants to look at the dementia mood and the quality of life. Where Faith will measure the differences.

Faith then arranged a quick workshop session with the group focusing on her project.

  • Dr Sheila Hardy​ presents on Parity of Esteem

Dr Shelia was next to present, she was happy to see our group feedback on the previous presentation. Shelia mentioned her PhD was on physical health and mental illness, where she was trying to show how important it is to check physical health in primary care. Most of her research was about the impact of training the trainers, training nurses and on the health of people with severe mental illness.

Shelia also spoke about her own caring duties as she is caring for dementia. It was tricky for Shelia to present due to her caring role, but we were appreiciative that she engaged with the ethnic carer group.

There is high interest on why people with severe mental illness (SMI) are more likely to have the following, which Dr Shelia presented on:

  • Why those with SMI’s Die prematurely
  • Have a preventable condition – respiratory disease, sexually transmitted infection, sexual dysfunction, obstetric complications, osteoporosis, cancer, dental problems, metabolic disease, diabetes or pre-diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, hypertension, and raised cholesterol
  • Lead unhealthy lifestyles – smoke, eat a poor diet, have low levels of exercise, have a high alcohol intake, misuse drugs, engage in unsafe sex
  • Experience diagnostic overshadowing
  • Be prescribed medication which may have a negative effect on physical health, e.g. antipsychotic
  • Live in poverty

Since this forum is an ethnic minority carer forum. Dr Shelia spoke on the following regarding how SMI’s impacted on ethnic minority groups.

  • In England, there are health inequalities between ethnic minority and white groups, * and between different ethnic minority groups
  • Access to primary care health services is equitable for ethnic minority groups, but less consistent across other health services
  • People from ethnic minority groups are more likely to report being in poorer health and to report poorer experiences of using health services than their white counterparts
  • People from the Gypsy or Irish Traveller, Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities have the poorest health outcomes across a range of indicators
  • Compared with the white population, disability-free life expectancy is estimated to be lower among several ethnic minority groups
  • Rates of infant and maternal mortality, cardiovascular disease (CVD) and diabetes are higher among Black and South Asian groups
  • Mortality from cancer, and dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, is highest among white groups

Half way through Dr Shelia’s presentation there were a few questions where Shelia explained Why people with mental illness have poor physical health

  • Genetics – low HDL, raised blood glucose, low lung function values
  • Poor motivation (due to their mental health problem)
  • Difficulty in concentration and planning (due to their mental health problem)
  • Less likely than the general population to receive support to change unhealthy behaviour
  • Less likely than the general population to receive medical examination and intervention
  • Physical symptoms often attributed to mental health problem so early intervention not offered

Lastly and most importantly Dr Shelia finished up on what actions can help to prevent health problems

  • Engaging in healthy lifestyle behaviours which include:
  • Eating healthily
  • Exercising regularly
  • Getting adequate rest and relaxation
  • Limiting caffeine and alcohol intake
  • Avoiding drugs and smoking
  • Safe sex
  • Maintaining physical personal care
  • Seeking medical care when required

Obviously there are more things that can combat the problem of paraity of esteem, but this is a start to educate others on the challenges.

Dr Shelia Hardy has a book out if interested Mental Health and Wellbeing: A guide for nurses and healthcare professionals working with adults in primary care

  • Melanie Crew presents updates from Carer’s UK

Next to present and engage with our ethnic carer group was Melanie who is the Senior Research Officer from Carers UK. She Thanked us for giving her the opportunity to present Carers UK updates.

Carers UK is a national carer’s charity fighing and supporting millions of carers for the UK. They campaign heavily for Carer’s rights and carer awareness.

Melanie spoke on a few updates on what Carers UK have been working on. She mentioned that they have their annual survey running at the moment, which is called “state of caring”. This is where they asked carers quite a lot of questions about their experiences. So it covers issues like “cost of living”, “delays with accessing health care” and other recurring themes like mental health, employment and technology.

Melanie mentioned that it’s really important that they know what carers are struggling with, otherwise they can’t claim to campaign on behalf of people fighting to provide care. Surveys are an important tool because if they are not listening to carers, and asking them what they want or what they need. Then carers will continue to struggle.

Even at the time, they have not had loads of responses, especially responses from ethnic minority carers. So Carers UK are trying to contact lots of different organisations who work with ethnic minority carers, and also try to share the survey with them.

Melanie raised the importance that it would be really great if any of us have the time to go though the survey, as the charity feel that the responses are really important to them.

Melanie then mentioned anothe project that Carers UK are working on called “Making carers count”. This is done in partnership with another national carers organisation called “Carers Trust”.

The project is looking at certain groups of carers that they know less about, so we kind of refer to them as underrepresented groups. This includes carers from ethnic minority backgrounds. So her role in that project is carrying out research which led to a published a research report about the experiences of ethnic minority carers during the pandemic.

Melanie updated on more research, ideas and campaigns from Carers UK, where members got the chance to ask questions and probe about projects. I appreciate Carers UK engaging with our ethnic mental health carers forum and look forward for more updates in the future.

Carers UK is working on a new campaign, if interested see the link below

New Prime Minister must act quickly for unpaid carers

Carer of People with Autism & Psychosis – KCL group

Hello fellow unpaid carers. Kings College Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and neuroscience are launching a new group. The groups will be facilitated by Madeleine Oakley who is the Senior Teaching Fellow in Mental Health Studies at Kings College London. Madeline also has experience of care as she is also a family carer of her young adult son who has autism, who has a learning disability and mental health problems.

Please see poster below and you can also contact Madeleine at madeleine.oakley@kcl.ac.uk

August Carer News Updates 2022

The latest edition of Matthew McKenzie’s online carer, mental health and ethnic mental health news is out for August.

AUGUST 2022 Carer and Mental Health news

For the August edition we have

Cost of living crisis: Bills soar for carers – Sky News : Sky News reports on the soaring costs of bills making life harder for unpaid carers.

Impact of cost of living crisis on unpaid carers – Mobilise : GBNews report and interview where Sarifa, an unpaidcarer in Newham talks about her experience on the cost of living crisis.

Carer wellbeing : New online course developed by Matthew McKenzie. Only £2 via paypal or just contact me to access the course

New Data Shows The Number Of Unpaid Carers Has Almost Doubled Over The Last 10 Years : New Data Shows The Number Of Unpaid Carers Has Almost Doubled Over The Last 10 Years To Over 10 Million In The UK

Haringey residents welcome campaign launch by Carers First  : Carers First is rolling out free emergency plan packs exclusively in Haringey for people who care for a relative or friend.

A coproduced approach to tracking young Black men’s experiences of community wellbeing and mental health programmes : Funded by Mind, Centre for Mental Health has designed a new, culturally informed approach to monitoring young Black men’s outcomes for accessing wellbeing support.

SIGN UP TO NEWS SITE HERE

Bromley, Greenwich, Bexley & Lewisham Ethnic Carer Forum April 2022

Hello fellow mental health carers. Have not blogged an update in a while regarding my carer forums. Probably due to being busy publishing my 3rd book on mental health carer poetry. More on that later. I have also been developing online courses aimed at mental health carers. I am now preparing to work on my 6th online course “caring for someone with a mental illness”.

Back to this blog update. This is an update from my monthly ethnic carer forum. A forum for those from ethnic backgrounds caring for someone with mental illness.

Speakers

  • Rev Dr Cameron Langlands – Head of Pastoral & Spiritual Care at South London & Maudsley
  • Carl Nando – Amenity Care update
  • Rubbia Ali – Black families involvement in new elearning.
  • Rev Dr Cameron Langlands – Head of Pastoral & Spiritual Care at South London & Maudsley

Did you know I also facilitate the West London NHS trust ethnic carers peer group? We recently had the Head of Pastoral care visit and engage with carers from the black community.

So it was great to have Rev Dr Cameron Langlands attend and engage with our community group. Dr Cameron looks after the chaplaincy service at South London and Maudsley. Dr Cameron takes care of service users who are inpatients and will often see people in community, but only if they are tied into the SLaM services. Dr Cameron would love to engage with more patients, but there are only three chaplains in the full time role. Plus they have four sites to cover, as well as some community settings.

They also have a part time Imam who works with them on a Tuesday. Plus a part time Deacon who works at ladywell unit over in Lewisham on Thursday.

Dr Cameron has been in the NHS now for just over 20 years in chaplaincy, and what they find particularly within mental health chaplaincy is that when people say they want a specific chaplain, often they don’t. Because they’re looking for is someone who is an appreciation as to where the patient is coming from. That would be who has the ability to sit and listen to them, especially on the difficult situation that they’re in. This is where the nursing staff are trained to do that, but unfortunately, they are often incredibly busy. So that allows those within the chaplaincy team to be able to augment the clinical team and do that.

The team are running a training program for transpersonal therapists who are in training. They focus on more spirituality based transpersonal side of things, and have to do 100 hours within psychiatric setting. So most of the work now has a chaplaincy volunteer as well. They can dovetail into the service.
The other thing they do is that they can offer volunteers in the befriending service that run via the volunteer coordinator as well. So they tie in with people in community who have either been discharged from service but still want that link or are being looked after by their GP or their community mental health team.

Dr Cameron has also asked for a befriender in a new service that runs twice a year, the befriender service is now online, the service can also be accessed in person. The course is ran over a 10 week period and it covers all aspects of mental health.

Dr Cameron mentioned that In South London, they have managed to secure funding from the from NHS England, and have started a bereaved suicide service, which is aimed at those who have been bereaved by suicide, or those who have been witnesses to suicide or attempted suicide. In that team, they have got a bereavement manager, two support workers and a couple of counselors, and they are the only service in the UK to have two community champions employed in that service reaching out to people on non faith based basis.

QUESTIONS FROM CARERS

  • Can there be a conflict on spiritual conversion regarding a patient’s faith?
  • How is spirituality being used as a way to be inclusive and, and bring out these outcomes to be more favorable towards those ethnic communities using those services?
  • Is there a spiritual and pastoral policy? Is it inclusive of families and carers?

  • Carl Nando updates on AmenityCare update

Next was Carl Nando’s turn to update the carer forum on his project Amenity care, which looks to support carers with a package for the person suffering ill health. Carl talked about how Mental health is one of the key pillars for Amenity Care and its clients.

Carl talked about the struggles he had in the past supporting his parents and the racism they experienced. Carl feels this is an issue for today. Carl mentioned how tough it was to provide that care and how it inspired him to set up his own business that focuses on advocacy and support for those suffering ill health.

Carl thinks it is very important to have more black own mental health businesses tailored to the community, but there are struggles and getting access to business support is difficult. There were lots of questions from carer members on how Carl can raise the awareness of black mental health and at the same time run a business.

  • Rubbia Ali presents on Black families involvement in new elearning project

Lastly it was Rubbia’s turn to present to the ethnic carers group. She is a research worker at King’s College London. She spoke about her current study where they just received funding and they are now working on a project tailored to black families. It is called Black families involvement in E-learning. This is being led by two psychologists at King’s College London, by Dr Valentina Cardi and Dr Juliana Onwumere.

The study has two aims. Firstly, to understand the experiences and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the carers of children and young people (6-24 years) from Black minority ethnic communities in the UK. The second aim is to explore with carers of children and young people from Black minority ethnic communities, the type of information they would find helpful to include in an online course that aims to offer carers skills to support children and young people with their mental health and wellbeing. The Be FINE study will employ a mixed methods design, using both online surveys and individual and group-based interviews.

The study has two parts; an online survey and focus groups. To participate, individuals have to be parents or carer of a young person from a Black racial minority and the child has to be aged between 6 – 24 years. We then ask that the participant fills out the online survey, this should take around half an hour. The participant will receive £15 amazon voucher for participating. Following this, the participant will have the chance to also sign up to the focus groups.

This concludes the brief update for April – phew! I am so far behind!!

July Carer News Updates 2022

The latest edition of my online carer, mental health and ethnic mental health news is out for July.

Click below to view latest carer news by Matthew Mckenzie for July

JULY 2022 Carer & Mental Health news

For the July edition we have

Swindon Carers Centre: 2022 AGM Recording : YouTube video of Swindon Carers AGM. Hear the latest updates on what the carers centre has been doing for carers.

Carer Activism : My latest online course for carers. This one is on applying activism for carers who struggle with engagement from health and social care. Only £2 via paypal.

Walking the Walk: How can we use carers’ experiences to improve end-of-life care? – BMJ : Paper on how carers experiences of end of life care can reflect on professionals.

State of Caring Survey 2022 – Carers UK : Carers UK release their “State of caring survey” for 2022. Important to collect the experiences of carers.

Equality and Human Rights Commission Annual Report 2021-2022 : Latest update and report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission

SIGN UP TO NEWS SITE HERE

New poems by Matthew McKenzie

Here are two more poems from my upcoming book “The Poetry book of mental health caring”.

The first poem focuses on wellbeing for carers who are caring for someone suffering mental illness. To be fair it does not actually have to be mental illness, but the main point is the person is thrown into becoming a carer.

The next poem is more psychological. The poem called “The Mirror” asks the carer to reflection on their identity, especially when the carer is judgemental about themselves. I certainly was very judgemental about trying to provide unpaid care and at times I still am critical.

Joint Southwark & Lambeth MH Carers forum March 2022

Welcome to a brief update on my joint Southwark & Lambeth mental health carers forum. I run this forum online via zoom once a month. It used to run from Maudsley hospital, but had to move it online due to the covid situation. I am guess I am so lazy to move the forum back to the mental health hospital. Will have to see.

Another update is I have started my volunteering at my local accute hospital trust, so I will be having a carer stall for families of patients to visit me. Lewisham & Greenwich trust have been helpful in giving me a spot to engage with families and carers. There will be lots to work towards, but it certainly is a good start.

Going back to my Joint Southwark and Lambeth mental health carers forum. The speakers for March 2022

  • Claire Parry – Maudsley Psychotherapist on updates at psychotherapy projects at the NHS Trust
  • Rebecca Davies & David Meyrick – Developments for families & carers in the borough of Southwark
  • Annette Davies – Carer peer groups and PCREF.
  • Natalie Marshall – Community peer lead and support for unpaid carers

Claire Parry presents to the group

Clare Parry is a family therapist. She took up the post in June 2021. This being the role of lead family therapist in Soutwark. This includes being a trusted advisor around family therapy and family work across the NHS trust. So part of her role is looking at where services may have family therapy and family work and where they don’t. Her focus is on more of the psychotherapy side rather than kind of carers assessment side. A lot is done to make family members and carers comfortable with the service they provide.

Part of her role over the last year, was working really hard in the psychotherapy services and reduce waiting times. There has been an acknowledgement that waiting times for therapies are far too long. So they have been piloting a project, which means that they are offering other interventions, while individuals, couples or families are on the waiting list for therapy

Clare is very interested in the stories that many carers have to tell, So she wants more carer engagement to events. Claire hopes that psychotherapy can make a different to others who don’t get to talk when someone’s unwell. Clare talked about how some major carer systems have been influcing the NHS trust services, those being the Tree of Life and the Triangle of Care. She also talked about Open Dialogue.

Rebecca and David presents on community transformation project

A lot had been covered by Clare on community transformation, but it was also included at this part of the forum. Rebecca mentioned that a new team, that being a low intensity team has just started. It has just been open for a couple of weeks and the rest of the services will be moving over. There was also more talk about the new mental health hospital build from Lambeth to Southwark.

Rebecca also mentioned that there will be a north and south primary care mental health teams, and the four CMHT’s which will work with most of the service users across them across the borough of Southwark. Rebecca moved on to talk about complex care services, which will include assertive outreach, rehab teams, low intensity team and early intervention team. Plus community mental health teams are going to be merging a lot of the other services.

David who is the maudsley inpatient carer lead for Southwark talked more about Triangle of Care. He admitted things had been slow due to the previous covid-19 epidemic, but with South London & Maudsley working towards their first star in the triangle of care membership, things are picking up. David mentioned how each ward has a carers champion and how they are engaging with families and carers on the wards. David had a strict regime of carers being included in patient notes especially in surguries. Support for patients had to be increased and families & carers are an important factor. David also talked in-depth of the self assessment dashboard which helps to work towards the triangle of care standard.

Next we had a carer who is championed in Southwark for helping to run groups for carers. Her name is Annette and she also run’s her ethnic carers peer group. To be honest, I am a member of her ethnic carers group and is was great to here how she empowers and links other mental health carers. Most if not all carer groups are online due to covid and travel restrictions, but I am sure when things settle down, there might be a room which can host the groups.

Annette also spoke how she was South London and Maudsley’s co-chair for their Patient Carer Race Equality Framework, something I myself have a very close eye on, but not really involved in. To be honest, I usually provide updates regarding race and mental health off my online news site

Carers Week 2022 – Being Valued and supported.

Welcome one and all, especially fellow carers.

So it is now the start of Carer’s week 2022. A week I have been waiting for all year and I hope you have as well. What is so special about Carer’s Week? It is a chance to use your experience of providing unpaid care to stand up and be counted for your efforts.

Carer’s Week is a collaboration of many charitable organistions seeking to make life easier for millions of carers around the country. The UK has been through difficult challenges over the years with the COVID-19 situation and now recently the cost of living. We also have the revamp of the mental health act and the new health and social care bill, which seeks to make the systems fairer to carers and those they care for.

However many carers around the country are wary of new laws and bills and to be honest unpaid carers have not come well off from past laws. It is so important the government, local authority and health providers seek engagement from unpaid carers regarding new bills and policies.

Going back to carers week, there are many themes and campaigns taking place. The latest one is on the “A Recovery and espite Plan for Unpaid Carers” There is an open letter to the prime minister signed by seven CEOs of major national charities.

  • Helen Walker, Chief Executive, Carers UK
  • Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director, Age UK
  • Kirsty McHugh, Chief Executive, Carers Trust
  • Sally Light, Chief Executive, MND Association
  • Danny Sriskandarajah, Chief Executive, Oxfam GB
  • Mark Winstanley, Chief Executive, Rethink Mental Illness
  • Jacqui Cannon, Chief Executive, The Lewy Body Society

The theme for carers week 2022

Each year, carers week has a theme to highlight the importance of unpaid carers and the challenges they go through. This year is no different and the theme for this year is “Making caring visible, valued and supported”. So why such a theme this year?

Personally it is well known that carers can end up being hidden because they are caring behind closed doors, but there are other reasons for carers to be hidden. Not many people think they are caring and just get on with it, some feel that caring carries stigma and to make matters difficult, health and social care systems often fail to identify carers. It is known that even if a carer is identified then there is always a risk that the carer can slip through the net. The reason for this is caring heavily relies on the relationship to the “cared for”, especially caring for mental illness. If that relationship fails then caring can be at risk and the carer could be at risk.

What about being valued? Is caring valued in society? Is caring valued in the community? To be really blunt about it, I am afraid caring suffers from being valued. Society does not deem the sacrifices others have to pay to care a worthwhile endeavour. It could be that people are compelled to care and that in itself could be the reward, but that reward is countered by the harsh challenges carers have to face, especially financial. Unpaid carers put so much on the line that they themselves risk their own health and wellbeing. It is so important we not only value carers but the importance of caring itself.

What about being supported as a carer? Many carers complain health and social care systems fail to support them. The risk is if the support for the carer is lacking, then this can cause a trickle down effect to the patient or “cared for”. The risk is the patient suffers at the end of the day because the carer is not getting that vital support.

I call for ALL carers to use this week as an opportunity to stand up and be counted, be diplomatic in your efforts, but make yourself known and be proud you have been there all this time to give a care. We are not asking much, just only to be identified, valued and supported.

Just to note, I will be doing a Share & Learn session at Carers UK. I wish to share my knowledge of the experience of care regarding ethnicity, mental health and carer wellbeing using my poetry. If you are a carer, see the link below to book

https://www.carersuk.org/help-and-advice/get-support/share-and-learn-online-sessions

Experiencing mental health caregiving – Carer peer support

Welcome back to a summary of chapter 3 of my book “Experiencing mental health caregiving”

This blog focuses on my 2nd book – Experiencing mental health caregiving. The book helps raise awareness of unpaid carers providing care to someone close suffering mental illness. The book highlights the experiences of providing unpaid caring.

For Chapter 3 – “Carer befriending and peer support” I asked carers several questions, but this video will look at the first question that being “What does carer peer support mean to you?

The reason I asked such a question was down to how can carers relate to others when caring can be a private and personal experience. Do carers know they can get support from others to reduce stigma and increase carer knowledge?

Just like the videos I have done on my 2nd book, I will sum up a few responses from those regarding “Carer Befriending and peer support”.

To check out the video summary see link below

So going back to my book, chapter 3 got responses regarding carer peer support, you can see the responses below.

One carer Jacqui Darlington responded

“A carer peer is someone who can offer emotional and practical support to another carer by using their own lived experiences which may enable them to overcome barriers, challenges and fears to achieve whatever it is they may need. They may also be known as Experts by Experience .”

I not only asked knowledgeable carers, but also engaged with mental health trusts.

Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust rep responded

“We train people up as peer support workers or carer peer support workers. We are now employing them in the jobs at the NHS trust. I think as a carer peer support worker, the difference between that and pure peer support worker is that the carer peer has lived experience in caring. .”

One last point – Another carer responded

“To me, carer peer means supporting a carer who may be struggling with the sometimes overwhelming difficulties experienced when caring for a loved one with mental health issues. Being there for that carer, sharing personal experiences and showing an understanding of what they are going through”

I asked 8 other questions for Chapter 3,

  • Have you experienced carer befriending and what did it feel like?
  • Where should carer peer support be located?
  • Do you think there is enough education on carer peer support?
  • Would you befriend other carers?
  • Is there a line or boundary to carer peer support?
  • Is there a difference between carer peer support and service user peers?
  • Why is carer peer support lagging behind?

The responses I will cover in a later video, but to sum up What does carer peer support mean to you?

I noticed that lived experience was critical to becoming a peer carer. To share your understanding and knowledge of the caring role and help those new to caring is vital in forming a connection.

if you are interested about mental health carers, you can buy my book on the link below