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Lewisham Mental Health Carers forum February 2021

Here is the update for the February Lewisham Mental Health Carer forum. The forum is aimed at those who care for someone with a mental illness. Most who attend are unpaid family carers. For this forum we were joined by the CQC inspector for GP surguries and Professor Luke Clements from Leeds University who is an expert on carer’s rights.

As for the members of the forum, carer members were from South West London, Lewisham and Greenwich where I often host other carer forums or support groups. We were even joined by West London NHS trust staff who were interested in how a carer led forum runs, plus also SLaM early intevention staff.

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Lewisham Mental Health Carers forum October 2020

Welcome to a brief update on the October Mental Health carers forum for Lewisham. I have been so busy of late, that I did not have much time to do any writing. For the carers forum, the guest presenters were Carol Burtt who is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist for Lewisham and she spoke more about IAPTs in Lewisham.

We also had Susan George from the CQC who inspects GP services in Lewisham engaging and updating carer members of the forum.

Going back to Carol, she spoke about how the service IAPTs provides are primary care where they essentially provide help for people with mild to moderate psychological difficulties such as mild to moderate depression and or anxiety. Anxiety might include panic attacks, or a state of worry. Carol talked the group through such symptoms like generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, health anxiety, some OCD, obsessive compulsive disorder, some relationship difficulties that might be leading to depression or anxiety.

Carol spoke about how mental health can cause some relationship difficulties that might be leading to depression or anxiety. So in fact, it might be more likely to be something that carers might experience themselves rather than the people that they are caring for. Carol then talked about how busy the service is, being that they had 880 referrals last month and they processed about 600 people who were seen last month.

For people to access IAPTs, you can get a telephone assessment within a few days, and this is what IAPTs is aiming for at the moment so that we can have a rapid response to people’s referrals. This is so people can get to speak to a clinician within a week, and a chance to talk about explaining the difficulties. People can get referred and then get directed to the most appropriate treatment.

Certainly last year, SLaM IAPTs did increase a lot of digital input so that people can actually have some treatments via online programs, which SLaM call computerized CBT, which could be an initial treatment. Carers can access that very quickly. So people can start such treatments within a week of having had your first telephone assessment with somebody. So that’s the benefit of that. Carol mentioned that IAPTs online is obviously not for everybody, some of the us know, that some people will want to have a direct face to face contact at the moment, obviously, with the COVID situation where SLaM working remotely.

Carol then explained more about the service as in how people are allocated to a psychological well being practitioner, SLaM have about 20 of those clinicians which Carol manages herself. These clinicians have had a training in a low intensity CBT cognitive behavioral therapy, so they’re trying to provide what we call Guided Self Help.

Carol then gave us an example of how people would have access to these different programs. One would be for depression. One would be for anxiety, one for social anxiety. The person would have some tasks and some information that they would have to deal with each week. Then each week, it finishes with checking in with person, either online or by telephone to see how you’re getting on.

Still, if people felt that their mental health was a bit more complicated, and SLaM felt that you need it, then any input with a psychologist or a cognitive behavioral therapist, or a counselor would be a three to four months, wait a moment.

Carol also explained that before the COVID situation, they were providing face to face workshops in groups where people actually attended their clinics, but since the pandemic has affected things, they are now looking at more online groups and workshops. Carol reminded us about our BAME forum where her colleague, Elaine presented and how she is leading on the development of some workshops, particularly for local communities in Lewisham.

QUESTIONS FROM THE CARER MEMBERS

A number of questions were asked of Carol from our members. One of the group members was interested in the following question on if the IAPTs service helps those with addictions when people have got the problems and they’re addicted smoking, drinking alcohol, or even taking illegal drugs?

Carol responded that they do is make an assessment as to whether addiction is a primary problem, or even if addiction is the biggest problem or there’s an element of depression and anxiety. For example, somebody who’s got a very serious drinking problem or significantly problem, then they would advise them to go to a specialist addiction service. Carol also repeated that they are trying to look at different ways in which people can access this help earlier, as soon as possible. They are looking at providing these online interventions, and online workshops as soon as possible so that people get some help. Very quickly, before I can say, for such problems develop further.

Another carer queried the struggles they have when the cared for has trouble accessing the service, especially from a mental health trust. The carer does not want to intervene, but notices how difficult it is for the caree to get lost in trying to access IAPT services. Carol mentioned that unfortunately, it’s the way things are organized. And they have a secondary care psychology that is very separate from primary care. So they don’t provide a service for people who’ve been admitted to secondary care psychology, which is a separate.

Another carer made a statement rather than a question and pointed out that she was referred to IAPTs on a series of six well-being workshops. She felt that the CBT there, she didn’t find that useful because it was too general.

CQC PRESENTS UPDATES

Susan from the CQC was listening closely to what carer members questioned or queried. Susan felt that its really important for representatives from CQC to hear our stories, and she really appreciates everything that was mentioned today. Susan continued that it’s also important because she is an inspector of GP Practices and part of her job is to ask providers what they’re doing in terms of providing care and support for carers. So it’s vitally important for her to hear carer members own experiences.

Susan mentioned that there was not too much time, but she would do just a quick summary of things she has been involved with, and what the CQC are doing at the moment. The CQC are looking around at communication with patients and patient populations, particularly with carers. The CQC are looking at a number of scenes of regarding the pandemic and how services have communicated with people.

Since the GP practices has started to shut their doors, the CQC are interested on what the GPs do to open up again, what are the GPs doing to tell people that they are open again, that they’re available for routine appointments? How are they telling people about the services that are available?

The CQC are also looking at sorts of communications, the CQC are looking at how GPS are maintaining equality of access or equity of access for people. There has been a huge change digitally in terms of the type of appointments and consultations that people will have. Not everybody is fluent in English or has access to digital means of equipment or resources.

Susan pointed out that some people who may find that trying to navigate their way through this new online world of appointments is baffling and terrifying. So the CQC are also looking at developing, how they talk to the GPs during inspections. The CQC are interested in what the GPs are doing to make sure that they’re communicating clearly with patient’s about the changes to appointments. Explaining to patients about the difference on treating for an emergency appointment, an urgent appointment, a routine appointment. There is a lot of assumptions that everybody knows all these phrases mean.

Susan updated us that the CQC have just published the “State of care 2019” for 2020. The report is available on the website, however Susan kindly sent us the link in the online zoom session.

The report is especially important because it pulls together some of the themes that the CQC have been looking at during COVID-19 and also pre COVID. The CQC are looking at some of the gaps in access to good quality care, especially mental health care. The CQC are also looking at the themes around system health inequalities around support and care for our better communities.

The CQC are also looking at communication and are interested in conflicting messages or conflicting nasty messages and guidance. It’s not always clear for patients and the CQC are interested in how GPs are engaging with their BAME communities.

Other things Susan pointed out was that the CQC have been working on questions about safe care and treatment and about the support for people living with mental health illness. The CQC are also asking providers specifically about how to be monitoring carers health and safety during the pandemic, have they been maintaining their registered unpaid carers and so what steps have the GPs taken to enhance the identification and management of the mental health issues of people living with mental health that includes people with dementia.

There were a lot of questions from the forum regarding the state of carer registers, some members are aware of the pressures GPs are under especially with new contracts, but others are keen to see where carers are being referred to and if social perscribers are doing their role.

HEALTHWATCH LEWISHAM ENGAGES WITH CARER MEMBERS

Healthwatch were there to listen to carer members regarding health services.

Healthwatch Lewisham are an independent charity. They are the patient champion for people who use health and social care services and so they listen to people on what’s going well on health services, what’s not going well.

Healthwatch Lewisham collect that feedback from patients and then at the end of every quarter they analyze and report back. Those reports are presented to sort of people in the borough of Lewisham that have the power to make change happen to like commissioners.

Healthwatch Lewisham also do project work and one of their recent projects was looking at the impact of the COVID-19 on Lewisham residents. That report has now been published. Healthwatch also has an advocacy service. So if anybody has complained about NHS service that they’ve used, and they can go through their advocacy service. So far healthwatch Lewisham have three advocates, and they basically help people through navigate the health system.

The reason Healthwatch Lewisham were at the forum was because they wanted to gather some feedback from people’s experiences with health and social care services. They were interested in feedback regarding GPs, hospitals, pharmacies, dentists, opticians, mental health services, Community Services, basically anything that carers and the person they care for has accessed.

Healthwatch Lewisham were kind enough to recognize that it’s a group environment and sometimes people don’t feel comfortable sharing their experiences. So even after the forum, members could feedback via the healthwatch email or site where they sent the link.

CARERS FEEDBACK TO HEALTHWATCH LEWISHAM.

Many of the group members fedback experiences on the following.

1) Lewisham Hospital
2) GP appointments
3) Positive aspects of using GPs
4) Dealing with receptionists
5) Dental appointments

This was the update for October at our Lewisham Mental Health carers forum.