Hello, everyone!! Merry Christmas thanks for joining me here today to explain a bit more about future projects that I’m going to be working on. Some of them actually, almost practically finished. So yep, my name. As you can see from the title here, my name is Matthew McKenzie, Carer campaigner, Mental health carer activist who facilitates several carer groups around half of London.
what I want to do is just explain a few things regarding some books that I’m working on. I’m going to start developing audiobooks, I will of course continue to work on paperbacks, one of them is in draft at the moment. I’ll talk about that in a bit.
If you want to see the video version of this blog, please watch below.
Special edition of my poetry Audio book – The Poetry book of mental health caring
So during summer 2022, I published my first poetry book. This was my first attempt at what I felt would be focusing on the experiences of providing mental health care. One of the reasons of doing poetry is that you don’t have to really read a whole book to just sort of reach out to those who perhaps understand, in a sense of what’s it like to provide care for someone with mental ill health. Plus to also reach out to those who’ve never experienced it.
So I’m doing an audiobook project on my poetry, but with the added benefit of contributions from other carers who are activists or are poets who want to produce poetry on the carers experiences. So I’m hoping to publish in early 2023, January, February, by that time, that audiobook will be coming out.
Race, caring and mental health
The next book, which is not an audio book, will be in paperback form. I felt it was due time to come out. This is because I have been writing books close to two years now. I have also been running as carer groups, but two of them focus on ethnic carers coming from ethnic minority background, so obviously, they are providing care and support to someone experiencing some form of mental illness.
I’ve been meaning to develop a book like this for some time looking at how mental illness can impact on the family, on friends, not from the patient side. Let’s look at this new book closely. The book titled “Race, Caring and Mental Health”. From it’s first chapter, I often say to many people that it’s important to tell your story. With this book, I felt it even more important due to some of the tragic consequences that can happen to ethnic minority groups providing unpaid care. This is it’s not just within the mental health system as the book’s second chapter will be looking at discrimination and racism, and links to mental health, for the other chapters, they will focus on health inequalities and the structures. The book will explore the deadly roundabout regarding the repeat situations of those going in and out of the mental health system. Why does this occur?
I don’t have the answers and can only share my ideas of what I’ve seen and what I’ve heard, but I know what I’m learning about. I’d be really interested on people’s views of my new book, which is in draft form at the moment and I will probably change a couple of pages in the hope to release this around January 2023.
Providng Care and other Short Stories
Lastly my 6th piece of work will be an audiobook, similar to the project of the poetry audiobook. But this time I want to work towards fiction. Now, I’ve been writing two years now. Most of the books that I’ve been doing are not fiction at all. I mean, I suppose you could argue in some sense that poetry is looking at certain topics that may or may not happen. So this new audiobook will be my first attempt at fiction, including 20 short stories about unpaid care, here are some of the stories below.
This audio book will explore some of the following carer themes.
Providing Care Story about a woman finding out her husband has developed a form of mental illness, she now has to battle to become an unpaid carer.
Digging out of a hole A young man caring for his sister, but this time there are horrible things that make his life difficult.
A family Affair Story of a main carer feeling isolated by the family, everything is thrown at her and no one wants to help.
Never thought it would be me A female carer whose partner is caught in a serious accident, her life is turned upside down as she battles to provide care for him.
Angry A carer thrown into anger and despair as she is let down time and time again, leading her to becoming angry.
Just when I needed you A story of carer peer support and why it is needed, a story that is more hopeful than previous stories.
Anyway, thanks for stopping by. Hope you have a lovely holiday break.
Welcome to the latest update of my Greenwich mental health carer forum. I run this with the support of Greenwich carers bi-monthly. The focus of the forum is to give unpaid carers a chance to query, understand and focus on the complex world of mental health provision, especially trying to influence mental health providers of the importance of unpaid carers. In a sense, carers can be service users as well, so services should take account families and friends supporting those with mental ill health.
Speakers for the October Greenwich forum were
Peter Ley – Oxleas Greenwich Service Manager Myles Thorpe – Voice & Engagement Officer for Greenwich Area Involvement Network Jason Mcculloch – Service Manager, Commissioning, Health & Adults Services for Royal Borough of Greenwich
Peter Ley Updates MH carer forum
Peter talked to our group regarding the work going on between Oxleas and Bromley, Lewisham and Greenwich mind in order to create a well being hub. Peter explained that basically, it’s a merging of those kind of services, to kind of provide something for people where there is an easy to access. So when you go to a GP service, or maybe you just want to drop some concerns, what they are developing is a hub of different types of interventions for people that can be accessed really quickly
The intention is to provide people with prompt access to things that will help on their mental wellbeing. The idea is that rather than go through a kind of long drawn out process of repeatedly being assessed for mental health, the idea is to get to something that’s helpful intevention and be quite quick about it, provide things to people in a matter of days, rather than months. This is opposed to when a situation gets worse, then more kind of time has to be taken to get service users back on their feet.
Peter then mentioned how the pandemic is still impacting the NHS. The impact certainly has been felt from a community mental health team point of view, so they coming back into a greater number of face to face visits at home, rather than using the phone or waiting for people to come to them. So people should notice where there’ll be more of contact that is actually face to face. There should be more home visits. Something new were put in place to help with that is something called “The Care Teams Approach”.
So across all the community teams in Oxleas e.g. psychosis teams, the intensive case management for Psychosis services, what they will be doing is getting two care coordinators together and supporting them two support workers. So the kind of caseloads will spread across four people rather than one. So caseload sizes that those four will be looking after will workout to, ideally 50 patients, but in some cases, is 65. The standard there is that each of those workers does at least 10 to 10 face to face visits each week, which should instantly increase the amount of face to face visits that people can expect to get across the month in the community.
QUESTIONS FROM CARER MEMBERS
I’m understanding correctly, your well being hub, I noticed that it’s still a trial at the moment. But the referrals, are you saying that the referral has to be done via the GP? From my personal point, they cannot manage the services that they’ve already got. I’ve got health problems at the moment, and I’m struggling for myself, if I had to reach out about the person I care for, then the chances are, for example, I call trying to get an appointment on an urgent need. When there’s no appointments, you get referred to the Greenwich hub, they call it a Greenwich hub. And all what they do is triage you over the phone, and then refer you back to the GP anyway
You said it’s two CCOs and two support workers. Are they permanent staff, or are they locums? Because Oxleas seems to me to be running on locums. At the moment.
Peter we have not seen you for a while, we do hope you can engage with mental health carer groups, so there is an understanding of how Oxleas supports and engages with carers.
I myself asked the following questions
Who leads regarding care coordinators and social workers? If a Medical director leads regardings psychiatrists, then does Oxleas have a director of Social care? Although I understand care coordinators can be a generic role, plus what sort of training do staff at Oxleas get regarding carer identification and engagement?
Bonus update from Debora Mo – Mental Health Commissioning Support and Engagement Officer at SE ICB
Debora updated that they are conducting workshops with clients in a range of supported accommodations in Greenwich. So mainly from bridge support, one housing and Sanctuary. They already had their first workshop but they would like a couple of mental health carers to join if they were able to. There was a contribution for lived experience people, which is London living wage level. The sessions are held at the “London Marathon playing fields” (https://www.accessable.co.uk/venues/london-marathon-playing-fields) and the next one is on the fourth of November. They can only accommodate about one to two carers because the facilitators they are working with are really keen that the group of people who actually have the lived experience.
Myles Thorpe on the focus of Greenwich Area Involvement Network
Myles introduced himself regarding his work with GAIN. Myles mentioned it’s a was Community Action Group that worked closely with Oxleas and various public mental health bodies to improve representation of seldom heard groups, this means lived experience of mental health users to engage with the service providers. So this is incorporated in the decision making and service provision. The goal is to improve access to mental health services.
GAIN recently registered as a charity, and Myles is their first member of staff. He is doing research essentially, in connecting with various communities. There’s a whole number of groups, networks and subgroups where all of the information that they gather, whether that’s on service users or members of the community, gets fed into a kind of working group. They try and bring the provision of mental health forward so that it’s fit and efficient based on the resources that they have in the community.
QUESTIONS FROM CARER MEMBERS
It’s good to hear that carers are going to be involved and I hope fully involved, not not just as an afterthought, which we feel we are at the moment.
Wasn’t there a recent event regarding GAIN? I was wondering that turned out?
So Myles and myself sit in different things together, apart from the fact we do communicate a lot, but we also sit in different meetings that involve others like Oxleas and BLG Mind. So we are trying to focus on a united front, in a sense of all the work that’s happening, and also share all this information and knowledge.
Jason Mcculloch updates on Royal Borough of Greenwich Carers Strategy
Jason talked about what his remit covers, which is a number of service areas, but unpaid carers is one of them. He has been coordinating the delivery of a new carer strategy for the borough of Greenwich, this is a joint carer’s strategy with health colleagues, which was launched formally a couple of weeks ago, down at town hall. The launch was followed up with an event at Greenwich carer center. They are now planning further events in the evening, where the date is to be confirmed.
Jason was at the meeting to let everybody know that they have launched this new carer strategy that they are now moving into the sort of implementation phase of that strategy.
One of the key aspects of the strategy for Jason is that carers should receive a consistent level of service regardless of where they connect with health and social care services across the borough. So whether it’s at the GP, whether it’s with a social care team, either at the carer forum or with Oxleas, whether whether it’s a hospital, and you should expect the same basic level of service, the same sort of consistent information and advice.
In the background to make sure that colleagues across the health and social care sector and are aware of the strategy. We need to make sure they are aware of the commitments within it and understand what services are available for carers, which you can access or can be referred to. So as of this moment they are starting that work now, talking to the various social work teams getting engaged with GPS, and so on.
QUESTIONS FROM CARER MEMBERS
I’ve done so much for my son in the last two years. And I sit my listen to all these promises, and all the research and projects that have been done. And I’ve heard it all before they come and they take information from us, and then we don’t see them again.
Were there any mental health carers on your working working group? I was on this for 4 or 6 years ago, I was part of the original carer and strategy working group that you were setting up, but it all fell apart and I never heard anything more about it. Will there be more focus on mental health carers this time?
Welcome to the first Greenwich MH carers forum for January 2022. This is a forum aimed at unpaid carers in Greenwich to get engagement from their local mental health NHS trust, as well as Queen Elizabeth Hospital based in Woolwich and other providers of health & social care.
It might seem kind slow how I am updating my blog site, but I have been so busy working on my poetry. I am hoping to release my third book close the end of the year. It will be a book of poems regarding experiences of care, especially providing unpaid care for someone suffering mental illness.
Speakers for my Greenwich Mental Health carers forum were
Marcianne Coggins from Oxleas PALs and Complaints Jo Mant Oxleas NHS trust stakeholder lead
Jo Mant presents on engagement at Oxleas
It was requested that Oxleas Patient Advice & Liason engage with carers. There were some technical hitches, so PALs and Complaints had to engage with the forum in February. Jo Mant also attended and she was glad to see members she knew from many years ago.
Jo Mant talked about the opportunities for engagement within the NHS trust, because there are some new developments coming forward with involvement and the Oxleas involvement registry. Jo who is the stakeholder engagement lead at Oxleas NHS FT talked how people can have a voice within Oxleas. Jo talked about how Oxleas is a Foundation Trust, and all foundation trusts are accountable to local communities, and are accountable through membership. Oxleas have members who are members of the public that live in Bexley, Bromley, Greenwich, or more widely in the rest of England, and they have some work to do with carer members. This means they are accountable to them. These members are invited to events and are also invited to have their say, to help Oxleas develop services.
Jo mentioned Oxleas used to have annual focus groups to sort of develop their strategic direction for the following year, that has shifted slightly when Oxleas started a piece of work just before the pandemic hit. Oxleas was trying to work on a big massive engagement program which will involve members, this being the public and carer’s groups to help shape a new strategy for the NHS trust.
Jo moved on to talk more about the membership, which is a great opportunity for carers to get involved with the NHS trust. Jo kindly shared the link of involvement and engagement oppertunities to our forum members, where she mentioned we can look at them after the meeting. Jo continued to mention that by becoming a member, you receive updates from Oxleas NHS FT and you will receive emails of involvement oppertunities and up to date news.
Jo finished up by talking about Oxleas NHS big priorities for their new five year strategy. One of them is around patient rights, and the other one is about creating great ‘out of hospital’ care to both Oxleas mental health agenda and also their physical community health agenda. Jo reminded us that Oxleas is a mental health and physical health community provider. So they have worked on a wide range of service perspectives in Greenwich and they’re different in each borough as in Bexley and Bromley. Oxleas Membership has been invited to focus groups, and that is to help Oxleas develop what that looks like what they’ve been particularly looking at at the moment. One query is how long people do have to wait for treatment, and what does it translate to put in place to help people to recover? As in what support do people need? Plus What information do people need?
The presentation showed what things Oxleas were testing out and are trying to co-produce regarding service improvements to take the NHS trust forward. The other project is about how Oxleas has been a great place to work, which is more of a staff focus. So lots of work around the trust providing great opportunities for people to get involved.
The other thing that’s being developed and gathering momentum is the involvement hub or an involvement register. The trust has been involved with register, it’s run by someone who is head of service user involvement. She’s also head of the lived experience Practitioner program for Oxleas. Plus she is also head of volunteering, which has got a very wide remit around engagement and involvement.
What Oxleas want is to see people join the involvement hub and people who are in that involvement register will receive training To help them undertake some roles, like a big part of Oxleas recruitment processes, but also they’ll be involved in workstreams to help co-produce work through to develop the strategic direction of the NHS trust.
Welcome to the October update of my Greenwich Mental Health carer forum. As with my other carer forums, this one focuses on engagement from the local mental health NHS trust that covers greenwich, that being Oxleas MH NHS trust. I run this forum with heavy support from Greenwich carers who fight and advocate for the needs of unpaid carers in the Royal borough of Greenwich.
Speakers for the October Greenwich MH carer forum were
Peter Ley (Oxleas NHS) – Service Manager Sue Horbury (Oxleas NHS) – Online Patient system Laurelle Morgan Bruce (Oxleas NHS) – Oxcare
This is a brief update for my BAME mental health carer forum covering a mix of London boroughs between Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust and South London & Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust.
Obviously out of my 6 carer groups, this forum focuses and discusses on the unique experiences of Black Asian Minority Ethnic groups. I know some people want such groups to be specific, but to be fair a lot of the topics raised in this forum do focus on the afro caribbean element, although some members are mixed from the Asian community, which is growing as members from other MH NHS trust attend.
The speakers for the month of August were
Malik Gul – Ethnicity & Mental Health Improvement Jacqui Dillon – Race and mental health Cordwell Thomas – Black Thrive Dawn Irving – Maudsley NHS Quality improvement
Malik Gul presents on Ethnicity & Mental Health
Malik was really pleased to be among carer members of this forum. Malik felt the issue of race and mental health is not new, this is especially in the field of discrimination and racism in the services of our communities. Malik stressed that what we’ve had to endure as black and brown people has been known since we first landed in this country, But since the main kind of population of migration into this country, following the Second World War, and what is euphemistically known as the Windrush generation.
Since the days that we’ve arrived in this country, we have been discriminated against. Racism is built in to the very fabric of the systems that we all live in, and we must admit that it is a part of the system, and all of us in this conversation have experienced that. We’re all a part of it and we have all been discriminated against, in one form or another.
what Malik finds really interesting about the work he does, is that he has been working in Wandsworth at the Wandsworth Community Empowerment Network for the last 20 years.
It is now their 20th anniversary and the organization was founded in 2001. The thing is the organisation knows about the history of black discrimination. Many of us will know about David rocky Bennett, a black man, Rastafarian man, who was in mental health facility in Norfolk, and unfortunately there was a dispute on the ward, something really minor, Malik thinks it was about who could use the phone and who somebody jumped in front of the queue, or something like that. He was held down by the staff, and died in mental health services, what is worse is this is just one of the many cases of ethnic minorities dying not of mental health services, but within mental health services.
So the history of black people in mental health services being discriminated against is a story that we’ve all lived and experienced for the better part of 40 to 50 years. Malik felt that he has to us that nothing has changed.
Malik works very closely with Southwest London & St. George’s mental health trust, and also very closely with South London & Maudsley as well. In fact the new chief executive of SL&M is David Bradley who was the former chief executive of SWL&STG. Malik mentioned how he worked with him for about seven years and over the last 20 years, if you look at the figures for black people where it comes to over representation in medical health services for 20 years, it shows little to nothing has improved, and in fact, in some cases, things have got much worse. Malik mentioned that he has great admiration for David because he always had the foresight to work with the community and is bringing over ideas from his previous MH trust over to SL&M.
Malik challenged us that if you go on to the wards of Springfield hospital, as he does on a regular basis, about 50-60 70% of the people on the wards are for black and minority ethnic communities. Malik pointed out that we had to look at the over representation of black people in communities particularly in services particularly black, Caribbean, and black African.
Malik stated that he has to say that our mental health institutions are not the ones who are going to address this type of problem. He felt SL&M is not the solution to over representation of black people in mental health services, nor is Southwest London St. George’s mental health trust. Nor are any of the institutions that we are relying on to fix this issue. They are not going to address the over representation of black people in mental health services. It will have to be lead by the community, but there is a power problem, an owership problem a distrust problem. This overrepresentation in mental healths services has been going on for so long that the community has felt apathetic to any drive in order to change the status quo.
There was a very long discussion on what was needed to begin to address this issue, but the conclusion is it must from ethnic minorities, but controvesally we cannot expect the victim to solve the problem as we cannot expect the masters tools to change direction.
Jacqui Dillon presents on Race and mental health
Dr Jacqui wanted to talk a little bit about her own experiences, and on why Matthew invited her to the BAME forum. Jacqui Dillion is the former chair of the national hearing voices network, which is a user led charity that was set up about 30 years ago to provide an alternative to mainstream psychiatry.
Jacqui felt she is basically a survivor. she has used psychiatric services and one of the things that she often says about why she has worked as an activist in mental health for 25 years, is because her experiences of psychiatrists, which unfortunately was pretty devastating.
Jacqui felt that one of the things is if she managed to survive services, she would do all she can to try and change them. So that’s what she has been trying to do for about 25 years now. One of the things that she thinks is really important in terms of what we’re talking about today, in terms of the hearing voices network approach is that we do not advocate a Eurocentric model of the mind.
She felt that this is one of the problems that Malik talked really passionately and eloquently about on the huge over representation of black, Asian, and other minority ethnic people using the mental health services. One of the things that’s really important about the hearing voices approach is that this space within that approach is to both acknowledge the live reality of racism and oppression, which in her experience is often taboo in traditional settings, a lot of people flinch and are very frightened, and can get quite defensive about acknowledging that black and Asian people are massively over represented in services, and what’s at the heart of all things, which ian macpherson talked about in the macpherson report.
Our colonial history is built into the fabric of the these institutions, and things like unconscious bias that professionals come with, and often they’re not aware of their own biases, and then making treatment decisions based on some quite racist assumptions that have been intertwined with such systems.
Jacqui feels a lot of despair, about the over representation of many different people from different ethnic backgrounds, although she is really uncomfortable with the term minority ethnic groups, because since she lives in Hackney people from black, Asian and other minority ethnic communities are 50% of her community. So she finds the description a bit reductive and these kind of acronyms we use can be a little bit dehumanizing.
Jacqui also felt she hasnt seen things improve, there used to be an organization’s called family health, ISIS, which she worked with, about 17 years ago with someone called Dennis who she did a lot of work with in terms of trying to bring the hearing voices approach to FHI as an alternative to traditional psychiatry. She was sad to hear that Family Health ISIS is now closed as with many community groups looking to set up protected spaces for those who are vulnerable and what remains are these massive mental health trusts overpowering the voices of the vulnerable.
One of the things she would like to see is a move away from locating people’s problems solely within themselves and seeing that we’re all part of a system. Jacqui feels that one of the problems with the biomedical model, is by saying that people have illnesses, what we’re doing is we’re kind of saying, madness and distress don’t really make sense and limiting away the causes of such illnesses such as the pressure of society, racism, isolation from the community, no safe places, lack of resources, lack of community, lack of understanding and so on.
Jacqui felt that we give illnesses these bizarre names like schizophrenia, which she thinks, further mystifies what are actually very human ways of coping with devastating and overwhelming experiences. So she personally does not subscribe to that kind of biomedical language and feels that it is really unhelpful. There’s actually tons of research that has shown that using medicalized language actually increases stigma and decreases people’s empathy. Jacqui mentioned that someone put on the zoom chat about how trauma informed her, Jacqui felt this was more interesting about how something like trauma informed care can develop, but talking about language is a problem where the term trauma can minimises experiences. We have a long way to go in psychiatry before we even get to the idea of recovery.
If you want to know more of Dr Jacqui Dillon’s work see the link below.
Next to present was Cordwell thomas on his role within the organisation Black Thrive. Cordwell spoke about what Black Thrive is doing to promote and also promote what the imbalance of what Malik and Jacqui clearly stated, and also the questions coming from what carer members raised, Cordwell felt there is a concern on black individuals within the black community, having a say in their mental health and promoting the services and shaping the service to be fit for purpose. Cordwell wanted to go into a small conversation about the Patient Race Equality Framework.
On Cordwell’s role, he has several hats. He has a full time role mainly within the community, one of which is on the Black Thrive committee. On the Black Thrive committee, there are various agencies from public services, these are ranging from social workers, public health officers and directors, where they also have the police and many more. So fortunately they also have directors and decision makers who are on the table of Black Thrive and they shape the way they engage with communities and how those services engage with black communities in particular.
So, within that role Cordwell helps to represent the community, but within Black Thrive, he is an independent advisor, which enables him to liaise with South London & Maudsley NHS, and also help develop services within SL&M. In particular those services that have been disproportionately affecting black individuals within the community, like individuals from Caribbean descent.
With such roles it is what brought him to this forum to have a conversation with us, because one of his roles, actions or projects, is to be the lead person from the black community driving the trusted friend project,
Cordwell mentioned that he presented with a colleague from SL&M the trusted friend project, a couple of weeks ago at the Lambeth Carers Hub peer group, which Matthew attended. from that forum Matthew requested us to speak about trusted friend for this forum. Basically what it’s about is if you imagine a situation where you’re in a strange environment, ie as if you’re now a psychiatric inpatient, at one of SL&Ms hospitals, if you imagine yourself in a strange environment and you do not have a voice. Now the role of the trusted friend is to ease and promote that de escalation. So the impatient ward may go through all their various roles of de escalation on an issue, however the trusted friend will come on the ward and be that middle person that liaises with the ward staff and say what the wishes of the individual are.
Welcome to a brief update for my Greenwich mental health carer forum. One of the carer groups I run with the support of Greenwich carers. As usual the forum focuses on unpaid carers who care for someone with serious mental ill health. The forum runs very 2 months since I mostly focus on my other group for greenwich, which is a carer peer support group.
The greenwich MH carer forum also focuses on engagement with unpaid carers rather than a peer supportive environment. Speakers for the Greenwich MH carer forum were as follow.
Victor Aigbe-Anderson – Social Care Assessor
We also had engagement from Greenwich CCG who have been active engaging in my carer groups.
Here is a brief update of our Greenwich mental health carer forum for June 2021. This carer forum focuses on empowerment for mental health carer, while my Greenwich Mental Health carer peer group is on peer support and carer networking.
We were joined by MP Matthew Pennycook who is the Labour MP for Greenwich and Woolwich.
Matthew was mainly here to listen to unpaid mental health carers, which he could take up be it compliments or concerns. I could not go into any details but a few issues were raised one on the state of GP practices. We were also joined by Nosizo Magaya who is CQC’s lead inspector for Oxleas.
Nosizo spoke about what the CQC that being Care Quality Commission does and how they engage with NHS staff, patients and those who care for service users.
Nosizo reminded us that the CQC are a regulator, so they regulate all health services in England. She felt that perhaps the CQC could describe themselves as the Ofsted of health care. The only difference with the CQC and Ofsted is that they can prosecute, if they feel that there are providers that are not providing the adequate care.
So the CQC as an organization has got teams of inspectors that go in and review the care that’s been given to people. Sometimes they respond to whistleblowing, or any responses from any member of the public. Typically, if they do get a concern, they will contact the provider. If the person who gave the CQC the information is happy for them to share it. The CQC will contact the provider and ask for feedback and query what happened with this consent that has been raised. Their teams are a combination of different people on their health care professionals, anything from doctors to nurses, physiotherapists, and also some that are not healthcare professionals being expert by experience.
Nosizo also mentioned that they are based according to team, so the London mental health and community health service team would look after oxleas and she is the main contact for oxleas. Some queries from members were worried how long it would take to raise questions to the CQC, although another carer reminded that even if the CQC did not speak to a carer during inspection, it is always wise to raise a query off the CQC’s website.
You can check out more from the CQC off the site below.
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.
Hello again!! Here is the Lewisham BAME Mental Health Carer forum update for November. This is usually the last forum I run out of all the 4 forums per month. The forum is quite unique as the other forums promote mental health carer inclusion and awareness in the other London Boroughs, but this one focuses on Black Asian Minority Ethnic queries. BAME carers and service users suffer a whole different set of issues in regards to mental health services. Most are complex, cultural and historic, but there MUST be some platform for important parties to discuss, network and work on these issues.
Another thing different between this forum and the 3 others is sometimes this forum is a mix of patients and unpaid carers. I often try and leave space for the Service user Rep or chair to update the forum.
Who Attended and spoke
For the November update we had a discussion from Pharmacist Della Bishara in regards to medication and its affects on the patient and how unpaid carers could and should be involved.
We also had a detailed presentation from Rachel Ellis who is from Table Talk, which is a new initiative that aims to help inform senior residents throughout the borough, with the help of volunteers. Table Talk provides leaflets, information and a table in order to engage with the older population.
We were also joined by a number of unpaid carers and patients, along with a representative from Lewisham Homes, plus Metro’s Representative who provide one-to-one counselling for people who identify as LGBTQ and/or those experiencing issues relating to diversity, equality and identity. We were also joined by Lewisham CCG Engagement Teresa and also Natasha from Greenwich Carers who I approached to set up some carer groups. We were also joined by the rep from Community wellbeing from BLG-Mind who I will also bet setting up a peer support group.
We had a very lengthy discussion on medication with Della. Many questions from the attendees she took away to raise at SLaM especially in regards to clinical trials and reporting on side affects. Carers need to be involved because of the patient might not always be able to advocate for their need, especially if dementia takes hold. I raised with Della if there were studies looking at medication effects on BAME groups and if there is a SLaM trust wide forum that engages pharmacist issues.
It was mentioned that Lewisham Integrated Medicines Optimisation Service (LIMOS) is working in improving medication safety for older people. Basically LIMOS is integrated across the hospital, local care homes and community settings, which means that, if a care home resident is admitted to hospital, or vice versa, there is a seamless approach to managing medication.
As with the psychiatrists bible being the DSM, the pharmacists have an important book, that being the British National Formulary (BNF), the book is not easy to get hold of and is the UKs pharmaceutical reference book that contains a wide spectrum of information and advice on prescribing and pharmacology, along with specific facts and details about many medicines available.
Della discussed the BNF in detail and how it can help pharmacists, which the forum played close attention to. The forum also discussed the issue of miscommunication of medication between hospitals, covert medication and the issue of control & release medication.
Table Talk presentation
After the discussion with the pharmacist, we moved on to another topic regading older ages people. This was the Table Talk project, which was presented by Rachel Ellis. Rachel has been an outstanding promoter of senior citizen’s causes throughout the borough of Lewisham and has visited a large number different venus in Lewisham this year alone. As mentioned before Table Talk engage with the public on raising awareness of activities, information and support for senior citizens. This is specially important due to the population is ageing as we all are living longer.
Table Talk work closely with Lewisham council and with Age UK. The Lewisham BAME MH carer forum were shown several leaflets, which can help older people in regards to meter readings, warm homes, fire alarm checks and transport. We discussed how isolated older people can be in the community as Rachel described more information and leaflets.
Carer led Support Groups
Lastly for the Lewisham BAME MH Carers forum. I discussed the importance of carer-led peer support groups. I will be setting up several carer support groups in a few boroughs. Usually the forums are strategic and engagement focused and there is not enough time to hear carer stories. In fact carer support groups are meant to feed into the carer forums for empowerment purposes, but there were only a few carer support groups in the borough and none carer-led, which means there is not much motivation for carers to connect with each other.
I will be setting a BAME and a general MH carer peer support group with the help of Greenwich carers for that borough and I was so glad Greenwich carers engagement and community officer (Natasha) came along and support me at the Lewisham BAME forum.
This will be the same for Lewisham as we will work closely with the CCGs. The forum talked about how they felt about the Bromley, Lewisham and Greenwich Mind peer support group event that was held on wednesday the 27th over at York Hall in Beckhenham. We are very glad that they are able to fund that startups of the groups, however I pressed that we do not really need the funding, it will be the passion, drive and connection that can help, not to say funding will not be helpful.
With Lewisham CCG engagement, the forum has been aware of NHS England’s long term plan and we have made it clear they need to involve patients and carers in that plan. The good news is that the NHS England’s long term plan is beginning to take shape and involve us, but no matter what I do, I want to connect with carers and make them aware that the health system is trying hard to involve them. I am not sure about the social care element, but at least with NHS England, there looks to be some very good and exciting projects coming our way.
BAME Carer experiences Research
As promised I promoted a trainee psychologist’s study into African Caribbean experiences of supporting an individual with MH needs in a forensic setting. She contacted me after reading my blogs to see other researchers were engaging with forums about their own research. The researcher feels there is not enough literature or research papers detailing such experiences and Lewisham CCG will follow this up with the trainee Psychologist studying at the University of East London.
As usual I thank Kelvin (one of the proactive members) for setting up the talk with the pharmacist. I also thanks Community wellbeing and BLG Mind for hosting the Lewisham BAME forum and thank Greenwich Carers for the support they have given me and look forward to exciting projects ahead. I would lastly like to thank Lewisham CCG engagement officer (Teressa) and the other CCGs for engaging with the Carer forums and I am very impressed with the plans they are looking to involve us in.
This concludes the update for November and I will be preparing for the groups with the support of Oxleas and Greenwich carers.