Tag Archives: carers

Research Study: Improving safety in community-based mental healthcare.

Hello fellow carers. I have exciting research news for you.

Phoebe Averill who is a PhD Student of the Health Service and Population Research Department from Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience. Is working on a research study about the safety of community-based mental health services. This is a nationwide research aimed at unpaid carers.

Please see below for details.

What is this study?

We are carrying out a study to find out about safety problems in community-based mental health services for adults. This research will help to increase awareness of the types of safety problems service users and carers experience in these services, as well as gathering ideas about how community mental healthcare could be made safer.

Taking part would involve participating in your choice of either a one-to-one interview, or a group discussion. Interviews or group discussions will be conducted remotely via a secure online platform (e.g. Zoom), and will last for up to one hour.

Who can take part?

We would like to speak to family members/ carers of adults who are using community-based mental health services. These include primary care (e.g. treatment and monitoring of a mental health condition by a GP), or secondary care mental health services (e.g. outpatient support from Crisis Resolution and Home Treatment team, or a Community Mental Health Team).

To take part, you must also be:

  • Over 18 years old.
  • Able to understand English sufficiently to take part in an interview or group discussion.
  • Able to provide informed consent.
  • Not currently using inpatient mental health services.

Who should I speak to if I am interested in taking part?

If you are interested in taking part, or would like more information, please contact Phoebe Averill at phoebe.averill@kcl.ac.uk.

Please note:

Carers will be offered a £15 shopping voucher in return for taking part.

Joint Southwark & Lambeth MH Carers forum June 2021

Welcome to June 2021 Joint Southwark & Lambeth mental health carer forum update. Below is a list of speakers for the carer forum.

  • Faith Smith – Unpaid carer on her 136 project
  • David Meyrick – Southwark inpatient carer lead updates on carer support.
  • Alice glover – SL&M Patient & carers involvement
  • Emily Holzhausen – Director of Policy and Public Affairs for Carers UK
  • Elinor Bradley – on gathering carer experiences for Royal College of Psychiatrist

Just a quick note that the Southwark & Lambeth carer’s forum runs once a month and seeks to help empower families and carers who are caring for someone suffering mental ill health. The idea is for families and carers to know what is going on and also to hold to account, while getting educated about unpaid carers, health and social care.

  • Faith Smith presentS ON 136 PROJECT

Faith who is one of the carers involved at SL&M (South London & Maudsley) involvement register, basically involvement scheme for patients and carers. Faith is also a member of several of my carer groups. Faith mentioned she is a carer advocate and is working on a new project that she would like to introduce to us this afternoon. The project is around the section 136 of the Mental Health Act. Section 136 of the Mental Health Act is actually a section that gives the police the power to remove a person from a public place when they appear to be suffering from a mental disorder to a place of safety.

The place of safety could be to a hospital or to police station. We all know that those those kinds of interactions do not always go well and the outcomes are not always what we would like. So she has been asked to set up and share what is going to be called a Pan London, section 136 carers board. The aim of the group is to establish a solution which a focus group of experts by experience, which would be a group of carers and service users experts by experience.

The idea is that the group focuses on coproduction, a safe environment, holistic approach, which would then in turn lead to better outcomes.

  • David Meyrick SL&M Southwark Inpatient carers lead.

Next to speak was David Meyrick who works hard to promote carer inclusion on inpatient wards. David wanted to speak about the carer champion roles and how that works on SL&M inpatient settings.

So across the trust, every team should have carer champion either either one or two, on the wards, and so that we have two champions for each team. The idea is that the kind of champion will lead on the work that team does for me and carers, but not in a way that they get left with all the work for carer support within that team.

What we want to do is encourage staff to create an environment where the whole team has carers on a focus for evidence business the same way that we approach safeguarding, for instance, safeguarding is ever in business.

What you want to do as carer champion is to be more trained, be more aware and have more case knowledge and skills around carers, but use that to support their colleagues so that we get a consistent level of support for carers. So currently we have two carer champions, each team has currently, in the inpatient setting, that can be a little bit of a challenge, because it’s a high turnover staff. David has been busy with carer welcome packs to give to families and carers on the wards and continuing with his carer support groups.

  • Alice Glover SL&M public and patient involvement

Alice wanted to talk a little bit about involvement. She wanted to be a little flexible on the issue of involvement because she not sure what members wanted to know regarding involvement and co-production. Alice was happy for anyone to put in questions in the Zoom chat or even interrupt her presentation.
Alice gave a quick overview of the involvement side of things. Alice covers Lambeth and Southwark, but for Croydon and Lewisham that is covered by Jane Lyons and other boroughs and directorates. Alice feels the whole thing about involvement is about how we’re improving and developing our mental health services, and how we’re improving people’s experience by people who use our services and people who care for them. The important thing is that as a mental health trust, we are listening to people’s experiences and those experiences are influencing changes within those services.

So there’s lots of ways that people are involved in terms of sharing their experiences from filling in satisfaction questionnaires, with specific questionnaires for carers. She knows David has done some really good work to encourage carers to fill in satisfaction questionnaires on the wards so that we can start to understand how carers are experiencing our services. Where it is not just about how their loved ones are experiencing things, but actually how carers also experience services.

As a mental health trust we look at complaints, and look at incidents and even compliments. So there are many ways of how we try and understand how carers are experiencing SL&M services, but also on behalf of their loved ones. Alice continued to explain other forms of involvement including the involvement register, which is basically a list of people who have been through a process and it is for people with lived experience of using our services, or as a family member or carer.

She is aware that there is at least 5 people at the forum who are on SL&M’s involvement, which they may want to say something about their experiences of being on the involvement register. Alice just wanted to say, they are always encouraging more carers to join our involved register, at the same time recognizing the limitations that people have on their time and totally understand that people don’t always have the availability just because of the other things going on in their life. Not least of which may be caring for their loved one.

The involvement register can be a flexible way of getting involved and being paid for your time. It means that you can you have opportunities to get involved in projects, sharing experiences as a carer in a way to try and influence change in terms of how services are developed.

  • Emily Holzhausen from Carers UK presents

Emily from Carers UK was delighted to be at such a carer-led forum and wanted to mention how she met Matthew quite a few years ago and I was so impressed with how he spoke about carer involvement at mental health trusts. She also wanted to mention how impressed she is with Matthew as he advocates for carers in regards to national work, because he really draws on the experience of working with unpaid carers and their stories. Emily enjoyed the discussions regarding mental health services and how unpaid carers experience involvement.

Emily has been around for many years campaigning on the unpaid carers movement, but she does wonder whether with some of the engagement and involvement is very well aware around the benefits issues with those payments. Emily wondered if it’s possible to be flexible around some of the expenses, for instance maybe paying for WiFi or data or something like that to help carers engage in a different way. If they can’t take the payment because of benefits.

Emily continued to speak about Carers Week 2021 and talked about why they campaign for Carers Week? They do it because caring is so often invisible, because it can quite often a private matter. The problem can also be a double edged sword because while its private, it can also mean carers can suffer in silence and isolation. So this year, it allows us to talk to anybody we want to really about caring, whether that’s the general public, families of friends, whether it’s employers, services and so on. So this year 2021, Carer’s UK chose the theme “visible and valued”, because last year, we said making caring visible, and carers told us we want a bit more than that. So such a theme added in.

Carer’s UK used their words and added invisible and valued this year. It has been really interesting as We’ve had a lot of engagement. Carer’s UK has done more events with employers than ever. Such events with employers and many more, but another thing is Carer’s UK had last year was tough for people because many are still getting to grips with the pandemic. So this year, there has been an increase in online activities with less being face to face.

Emily spoke about numerous wellbeing activities, which have been focused on carers, these were in terms of the politicians, where they had 66 MPs pledge support for carers week. Plus a number of MPs came to hear carer stories at one of Carers UK focus event.

  • Elinor Bradley on Royal College of psychiatrist project

Elinor attended the carers forum to speak on her latest project, she also works for Kent & Medway NHS trust, but she is representing the faculty of rehabilitation for the Royal College of psychiatrist. Elinor wanted to speak about a national issue, where she suppose it was similar to what Emily was talking about bringing the voice of carers forward. As of this moment the Royal college is sort of trying to represent the voices of carers and service users of rehabilitation services. She was sure many of those attending would know about mental health rehabilitation, but it’s really the branch of mental health services for people with complex mental health difficulties quite often psychosis. For those patients with psychosis, they have got some residual impairments, that really limit their ability to function independently. So quite often they unfortunately have had lots of repeated admissions, lots of crisis admissions, or lengthy admissions.

The royal college of psychiatrists have campaigned quite hard for the voices of people who have got complex mental health difficulties. This has sort of resulted in a new NICE guidelines, which are very sort of focused on reducing out of area care, and being focused on Person Centered Care, and also the involvement of carers and family as part of the support system.

So the RCPSYCH has done some really good work in the college, but what they are aware that they don’t really have the voices of carers or those other service users with lived experience represented on the website. So they currently engaged in a project and to collate some narratives or some stories of service users, for carers with lived experience of complex mental health.

The aim is to give those a platform nationally, so that would be on the Royal College of psychiatry website. Plus also to use experiences to work towards future campaigns and guidelines that we should be working towards. This is so that the royal college is looking for the good and the bad of supporting someone with complex mental health difficulties. This can also extend to the good and the bad of rehab services or even 136 assessments and inpatient wards as she mentioned on what David was talking about earlier on.

The aim is to raise the voices of the whole journey of supporting someone with complex mental health difficulties, so the college is looking for accounts, narratives of a range of people nationally.

This concludes June’s joint Southwark & Lambeth Mental Health carers forum.

Please check out our next set of carer group dates.

Please check out our next set of carer group dates.

Lewisham Mental Health Carers forum June 2021

Welcome to the June update of my Lewisham mental health carers forum. For the month of June my MP Janet Daby who attended to speak to unpaid carers and update us on what Lewisham has been doing for unpaid carers since carers week 2021.

Also in attendance was Jo Power who is the Liaison Officer for the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

Cath Collins – Carer support worker presents on her role.

Before Janet spoke about unpaid carers, I felt it important that Cath Collins had a chance to speak about her role and her passion to support mental health carers. Cath Collins used to work for SL&M as a carers support officer, but is now employed by Lewisham council, but in a similar role.

Cath spoke about what she is employed to do and what she has been doing. Her remit is with the adult community mental health team. So she does not work with CAMHs, the children, adolescent teams, the older adults. She spoke about how we have primary mental health care teams in Lewisham, which is part of a new transformation of services, that should be aligned to GP practices.

Cath also spoke about having community teams where people have a longer period of support who suffer from serious long term mental health conditions. She mentioend we also have specialist teams in between, which are Early intervention services, which is for people in the first episode of psychosis, regardless of what age they are SL&M also have a personality disorder service.

Cath’s remit is to work with the teams to look at several things where one of them is to look at the information that they give to families and carers. These being are they getting the national up to date information? Other things focus on is such info good information about diagnosis? how to care for someone with a specific diagnosis? being involved in discussions around the care? If not, then why not? and how we could work on it?

With advice and information service, Cath reminded that they have got a group tonight, which is a mental health care support group where people can attend and speakers will go through important topics.

Janet Daby section.

I consider it very important MPs and those who lead on social care engage with those who are vulnerable in the community, especially if the group is grassroots and self-led. I am sure there are reasons why representatives would not want to speak to vulnerable groups, but those reasons are very few and far between.

It is also a two way thing, not only is it important for MPs to link with unpaid carers, but also unpaid carers understand the importance of forming relations. Too often I hear from unpaid carers that they are in an urgent situation and wish for counsel, which is fair. However I wonder in the back of my mind if something could have been done before things got out of control. It might be usually up to carers to keep their ears to the ground and find out what is really in store for them, even if they have the unpleasant task of trying to hold health and social care leaders to account.

Janet mentioned that Carers Week, which took place this year from 7 – 13 June, is an important opportunity to recognise, value and support unpaid carers. She felt that the Government must properly fund respite breaks so carers can put their own needs first, and ensure they can continue to provide vital, life-saving care and support. She knows that this is something that both Carers UK and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services have been calling for.

Janet remains concerned that until there is long-term investment in social care, unpaid carers will continue to be overwhelmed. After a decade of cuts to local government, £8 billion has been lost from adult social care budgets and too many families have been left to cope without the support they need.

The Government first promised to publish its plans to reform social care over four years ago. Despite repeated promises, Ministers have still not brought forward any legislation, new funding, details, or timescales for reform. The recent Queen’s Speech, setting out the legislative agenda for the year ahead, was absent of any detailed plans.

Janet continued speaking to our group about being happy to attend and meet with us even if it was more than once a year. She spoke about her plans and concerns about the SL&M’s Ladywell unit and her plans to raise queries and questions with the chair of SL&M. I asked questions about Lewisham’s focus for carers and how those who lead on social care could engage with our group where Janet mentioned a few people. As a group we have been struggling to get engagement from those who lead on social care, but in other areas of London it seems easier to get that engagement, other carers have mentioned it is not worth the hassle, but I feel it is important to get such engagement even if they respond with bad news. Nothing is worse than being ignored and left to try and support others going through isolation, exhausting and feeling they are not being heard.

Jo Power Ombudsman presentation

Jo spoke about The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman and the focus was on Who they are, what they do. Jo spoke about how the Ombudsman works and makes it’s decisions. Basically the PHSO was set up by Parliament to provide an independent and free complaint handling service. It is the final stage for complaints about the NHS in England.

The PHSO staff considers on the following.
– can they investigate?
– should they investigate?
Other factors include
Suitable complainant
Time limit
Legal remedy
Another organisation that could be involved.

Jo also spoke about how the PHSO gave’s evidence in the form of.
– Hearing from both sides
– opportunity to tell the PHSO what lay behind clinical decision making
– clinical records
– CCTV, phone records
– witness statements/visits/interviews

There was also an explanation about how the PHSO investigate complaints. As they look to see if what happened was in keeping with relevant regulations, standards, policies and guidance or established good practice. If it wasn’t, the PHSO look to see how significant the shortfall is and the impact that it has had and, if it has caused hardship or injustice, if that has that already been remedied by the organisation.

The PHSO also work with the following organisations.

Stats and figures were given for the carers group to digest from 2018/19

112,262 enquiries received
82,998 enquiries resolved through advice or re-direction

28,841 complaints handled by casework teams
24,183 complaints were not ready for us
5,658 decisions were made including:
746 investigations upheld
871 investigations not upheld
3,597 assessment decisions
444 resolutions

The PHSO also updated us on what they have been doing recently. As from last year they ran a public consultation to get people’s views on the draft NHS Complaint Standards. The consultation generated a lot of interest and feedback. On 24 March 2021 they published a report that set out the responses they received and explained what they did and the changes they made in response to the feedback.

There was a long Q&A session regarding the PHSO’s work and how the focus can be influenced by unpaid carers. This was the short update for my Lewisham’s mental health carers forum for June.

SW London MH Carer Forum May 2021

Welcome to the update for May’s South West London carers forum. As with all my carer groups and forums, this is aimed at unpaid mental health carers. That being families who are caring for someone with a mental illness or mental health needs.

We were visted by Diane White who is the CEO kingston carers. This was one of the carer centre leads to engage with carers the past 3 months as Richmond, Sutton and others have been talking to carer members about each borough’s carer strategies. Not all London borough’s have carer strategies, but when they do have strategies or a focus on carers, then it means carers get a chance to see if it has made a difference in their lives. A carer strategy is also a good way to hold boroughs on their promise and committment to unpaid carers.

Diane White did not speak much regarding carer strategies since the borough of Kingston is developing their carer’s strategy as of present. Diane spoke about the support Kingston carer’s centre provides for unpaid carers. She also mentioned the challenges they have considering covid-19 and budget restrictions.

The second half of the forum was focused on important questions a carer would need to ask if the person they were looking after starts using mental health services. Most of these questions should be asked at ward rounds, care planning approaches, tribunals or carer assessments. The idea I talked to the group about such questions if for empowerment purposes, besdies such questions are provided by the Royal College Of Psychiatrists.

Patients, service users or mental health survivors should try examining such questions in preparation to ask them.

About the illness

  • What is the diagnosis or problem?
  • If a diagnosis has not yet been made, what are the possibilities?
  • Why has this happened to them?
  • Will they recover?

Why ask these questions as a carer?

When I started out as a carer, I did not understand what I was caring for. All mental health conditions affect the person differently, as someone with an eating disorder will behave differently from a person who self harms. It is very important to understand and educate what conditions you are caring for.

  1. If a diagnosis has been made
  • What symptoms suggest this diagnosis/illness?
  • What is known about the causes of this disorder/illness?
  • What is likely to happen in the future? Will it get better or worse?
  • Where can I get written information about this disorder?
  1. Why ask these questions as a carer?

Now that you might know the diagnosis, there is a chance it can help with further questions. The questions above are very good and you might not be able to ask such questions in one sitting, thats impossible, but you later on down the line you will have a chance to ask them. Out of all the questions on this blog, these ones should be the most accessible since there should be leaflets and booklets on the ward about mental health conditions. It does help if the doctor or psychiatrist explains things in more detail, especially the severity of the condition.

2 About the assessment

  • What assessments have already been done?
  • Are there any other assessments that might be needed?
  • Are there any physical problems that have been discovered? If so, what will need to be done?
  • Have culture and background been considered?

Why ask these questions as a carer?

These questions are tricky and usually not asked straight away, I think this could be due to challenge to diagnosis or to seek a second opinion. Nevertheless they are important questions, wrong assessments do happen and can ruin the life of a patient and their family. Notice one of the questions focuses on BAME aspects.

3 Care Programme Approach (CPA)

  • What is the CPA?
  • What does the CPA mean?
  • Is the person on the CPA? If not, why not?
  • Will I be involved in the CPA?
  • Looking for a counsellor?

Why ask these questions as a carer?

Vital to ask these questions, there are situations CPAs are pushed back or do not even occur. If you are lucky enough to be included in a CPA, it is a good chance to ask about them and there format. CPA’s are quite long important meetings and usually done once a year. Preparing for them is a must and certainly make sure your loved one gets a copy of their care plan otherwise there is no plan for recovery of living with the condition. If you are unlucky not to be involved in a CPA, perhaps ask if your loved one take a advocate to the meeting. The reason for this is if the person you are caring for is still quite unwell, then important questions at the CPA might be unresolved or misunderstood by the patient.

4 About care and treatment

  • What are the aims of the care and treatment?
  • What is a care co-ordinator?
  • What part will the care co-ordinator play in the person’s care?
  • Who else will be involved in the treatment?
  • What is your plan for treatment?
  • For how long will they need treatment?
  • Would talking treatments (eg, cognitive behavioural therapy, family therapy) be helpful? If so, are they available locally?
  • What happens if they refuse treatment?

Why ask these questions as a carer?

Some of these questions can actually or should be asked within a CPA metting or can be aimed at the social worker or care-coordinatator. Take note that plans for care can change down the line, so be prepared to repeat these questions in the future. Why would care and treatments change? because the condition of your loved one will change, unfortunately be prepared for worsening conditions, but it helps to be flexible even if we hope for recovery. Do also focus on physical health treatments rather than always on mental health because both are related.

5 Sharing of information

  • Have you asked them about how much information they are happy to share with me?
  • Will I be informed about important meetings concerning their care and treatment?
  • Can I see you on my own?
  • Would you like to ask me for any other information about them or the family?
  • Can I tell you things that will not be shared with the person or other members of staff?
  • Are their views on confidentiality clearly marked in their notes?

Why ask these questions as a carer?

Out of all the questions off this blog, these are the most important and if the answers are recorded then it will help you later on down the line. If the relationship with your loved one suffers “probably due to the condition” then its highly likely they do not want you involved, but it MUST be recorded why, plus mental health system need to be flexible to involve the family and carer enough or the pressure is back on services to admit the patient again and again. Please also notice mental health services MUST understand carer confidentiality since that is one of the mistakes that can cause patient to turn against their family.

6 Care and treatment

  • What can I do to help?
  • Are there any local self-help or carers’ groups that can help me understand the illness?
  • How can I get advice and training in the day-to-day management of the illness?
  • Are there any local groups that can provide support?

Why ask these questions as a carer?

If there is anything that I stand for, it is for carer networking, peer support, empowerment and carer connections. The golden rule of caring is do not cope by yourself. So it is important to link up with other carers and carer advocacy and support. Mental health services should identify you and refer to their own carer groups and others.

7 Getting help

  • How can I get in touch with you?
  • How do I arrange to see you?
  • Who do I contact if I’m worried about their behaviour?
  • What do I do if I’m worried that they are becoming ill again?
  • Who do I contact in an emergency? What help might be available?
  • How can I get a second opinion?

Why ask these questions as a carer?

These questions are useful for emergencies as well, as with a triangle it is important carers do not get locked out of contact, one of the many criticisms of mental health services is lack of communication and lack of contact, especially when things begin to fall apart. Get the answers and record them down or you will be lost.

8 Carers

  • What is the difference between a carer, a nearest relative and a nominated person?
  • I understand that, as a carer, I am entitled to an assessment and care plan of my own. Who should I speak to?
  • If I have specific needs of my own, who should I ask?
  • If I need help, to whom should I turn?

Why ask these questions as a carer?

When I started out caring, I did not even know I was a carer, nothing wrong in that, except you lose out on carer support. Many people are not fond of the word carer and will prefer supporter, friend or other named definitions, but as it stands there are laws to protect unpaid carers like the “Care Act 2014”. It is unwise to avoid asking such questions because looking at the page of questions alone will leave you lost. Get that carer’s assessment, because it will record your circumstances and protect your rights if things go wrong, do not think you obligated to care, but certainly protect your rights as a carer.

9 Medication

  • What medication is to be used, and how?
  • Is the lowest effective dose being prescribed?
  • Can a low dose be taken at first and increased if necessary?
  • How often will the medication be reviewed?
  • Will I be involved in future discussions about the dose or type of medication?
  • What should the benefits of this medication be?
  • In the short term.
  • In the long term.
  • What are the possible side-effects of this medication?
  • In the short term.
  • In the long term.

Why ask these questions as a carer?

I think these questions are the ‘elephant in the room’ so much boils down to how medication helps with recovery or the ability to cope. The wrong medication and mess up your loved ones life and I will cover this later, even with good medication certainly expect side effects. Ask about side effects now, so you know what to look for and do not expect your loved one to suss out what is always going on.

10 Managing the medication

  • Why have you chosen this particular medication?
  • How long will the medication have to be taken for?
  • Are there any other medications that could be used if this one does not work?
  • What symptoms might mean that the dose should be changed?
  • What should I do if they experience unpleasant side-effects?
  • What will happen if they stop taking the medication?
  • Do you have any written information about this medication to give me?

Why ask these questions as a carer?

Not all medications are alike in ability and quality. It is your right as a carer to challenge medication if you suspect they are going to cause more problems than the condition itself. Certainly explain to your loved one the importance of understanding medication, but there will be times you might have to take a step back and ask services to help out or explain about medication. These questions should hold them to account on their decisions.

11 Hospital treatment

  • Do they need to be admitted to hospital? If so, for how long?
  • If they have to go into hospital, which one will it be?
  • Will they be on a locked ward?
  • If they get short-term leave from hospital, when and how will I be informed?
  • How often will I be able to see them?

Why ask these questions as a carer?

These questions might come after an assessment, especially if the family insisted on a mental health assessment. There is nothing worse than having a loved one admitted and not knowning what is going on. Please ask these questions if the person you care for is due to be admitted.

12 Discharge from hospital

  • What arrangements will be made for their care and monitoring after discharge from hospital?
  • If I am not able to look after the person when they are discharged, what will happen?
  • Am I expected to help with anything, especially medication?
  • Do you know of any self-help techniques that will help their recovery?

Why ask these questions as a carer?

What is worse than being admitted without much notice is when a loved one is discharged and you do not know about it, especially if they are still quite unwell. So asking such questions should involve you in discharge so they dont end up on the ward in a hurry again.

Carers Week: Support in Southwark: Carers

Do you know Carers Week 2021 starts on monday 7th of June?

The theme for this year is Making Caring Visible and Valued. Which is good news for Southwark since Southwark Healthwatch are running an event where unpaid carers in Southwark can learn about the different types of support available for carers in borough. There will be guest speakers from various services such as Southwark Carers, Mobilise, the Carers Leads from Southwark Council and Coach4Carers to speak to unpaid carers about different ways they support carers.

There will also be a Q&A session after each speaker to answer any questions you may have.

I will be opening the Southwark Healthwatch event and hope to see many carers learn what support they can get for carers week.

To book on the event see the details below

https://www.healthwatchsouthwark.org/event/2021-06-09/support-southwark-carers

Lewisham BAME MH Carer Forum April 2021

Hello everyone. Welcome to the April update of my BAME mental health carer forum. This is one of the 7 carer forums that I run that is specifically aimed at ethnic unpaid carers who care for someone suffering mental distress or mental illness. It is hard for unpaid carers to often get a voice, understand mental health services or even be identified by health and social care. There is a push for ethnic inclusion, but a lot of it is patient centered. So this is one of the reasons why I started a BAME MH carer forum, there are of course more to come.

For this month’s speakers we had the following.

Dr Juliana Onwumere who is a Senior Lecturer and Consultant Clinical Psychologist. She is also the Institute of Psychiatry Psychology and Neuroscience Carer Champion

Continue reading

Connecting with BAME mental health unpaid carers

Welcome to my latest unpaid carers blog for May 2021. As you might already know, this website focuses heavily on mental health unpaid carers. What I mean is the focus is on families and friends caring/supporting someone who suffers from mental illness.

I run many peer support groups and forums that bring unpaid carers together. The groups are carer led, but try to work with the mental health and social care services. This helps to give unpaid carers a voice and also a chance to understand the complex mental health, health and social care system.

As we all know service users or lived experienced have a range of avenues to express their voice and I guess that is important because they need to, after all they are using the mental health services and the quality of their lives and wellbeing is often tested. All I ask is that friends, families and those emotionally tied to mental health survivors should not be forgotten.

Unfortunately this needs to not only extend to mental health unpaid carers, but those from ethnic communities. Drill down deeper and you will find different levels of quality amongst ethnic unpaid carers. Usually black unpaid carers tend to struggle as their loved ones fair worse off in regards to mental health services.

Below is just some key factors.

  • Black men were more likely than their White counterparts to experience a psychotic disorder.
  • Large numbers of black people more likely than average to use high end mental health services.
  • Detention rates under the Mental Health Act higher for people in the ‘Black’ or ‘Black British’ group than those in the ‘White’ group.
  • Even with higher detention rates, the outcomes for black service users are still overwhelmingly poor.
  • Suicide rates are higher among young men of Black African, Black Caribbean origin, possibly due to other complex factors being :-

  • Racism
    • Access to quality services
    • Opportunities
    • Mental health stigma
    • Inequalities

With all the above mentioned, it does not take long to see the impact filter down to black families and unpaid mental carers. The strain is increasing and black unpaid mental health carers tend to just shrug their shoulders and cope with it all, as they have been trying to cope with complex inequalities while pushing back to avoid the outcomes their loved ones experience. It does not take long for a BAME mental health carer to cross that line to BAME mental health survivor….if they survive that long.

As an unpaid carer, I have experienced the hard road many BAME carers have faced and this is why formed and pushed for connections with many other BAME carers, they do not have to be black as other ethnic carers can find solidarity and identitfy unpaid mental health carers face.

There is still stigma, predjudice, discrimination and inequalities in society, a lot of things have changed and some things have improved, but it would be foolish to ignore the impact of race and mental health.

The candle needs to burn at both ends as BAME mental health carers need to come together and share their experience with the mental health, health and social care services on what is working and what needs to work.

If you are a BAME mental health carer, check out my online BAME carer groups below.

Greenwich Mental Health Carers forum March 2021

Welcome to my Greenwich Mental Health carers forum update for March. This is the 2nd Greenwich MH carers forum for 2021, since this is a fairly new forum aimed at families and carers who are caring for someone with mental illness.

The forum is not a support group, although there are times discussions may dwell on a supportive nature as members switch to talking about their own unpaid caring experiences. The Royal Borough of Greenwich MH carers forum aims to give families and unpaid carers a chance to talk to Mental health, health and social care services about how they can also support carers. The forum is a chance at engagement, involvement and empowerment for unpaid carers who would like to know what is going on with services. There also might be a chance to influence services when the Royol Borough of Greenwich mental health carers network grows in numbers.

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Lewisham Mental Health Carers forum March 2021

Welcome to a brief update of our March mental health carers forum for the borough of Lewisham. The carer’s forum is chaired by unpaid carer Matthew Mckenzie who runs many engagement and peer groups in South London aimed at families and carers who care for someone suffering mental illness or mental distress.

The speakers for the month of March 2021 were

British Institute of human rights.
Wendy Dewhirst SLaM new Community manager for Lewisham.

BRITISH INSTITUTE OF HUMAN RIGHTS PRESENTS.

It is clear that unpaid carers have rights, otherwise we would not have the ‘Care Act 2014’, but what is not clear is how unpaid carer rights are linked into human rights. This is why I am linking carers to understand more about human rights.

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