Black Thrive is a partnership between communities, statutory bodies, voluntary organisations and the private sector. We work together to reduce the inequalities and injustices experienced by Black people in Lambeth.
According to the GSTC “One to Many” report, more than 1 in 5 residents in Lambeth live with at least one long-term condition. Over 19,000 live with multiple long-term conditions (three or more). Even though Black communities make up 18% of Lambeth’s adult population, they account for 27% of people with multiple long-term conditions. Furthermore,
in Lambeth, Black residents are four times more likely to be unemployed than white residents. When they are employed, they are disproportionately engaged in insecure, low-paid and dangerous work, which harms mental and physical health. In addition, Black people can face racism and discrimination in the workplace, which negatively impacts mental well-being.
Therefore, we know that people of African and African Caribbean descent in Lambeth are more likely to be unemployed and more likely to have poor health. One of the key drivers of these inequalities is structural racism and the fact that our current healthcare and employment systems prevent Black people from thriving.
As a result, in collaboration with Guy’s and St. Thomas’ Charity (GSTC), Black Thrive’s Employment Project is developing community-led solutions for improving employment outcomes for Black people with long-term conditions. Our goal is to ensure that Black people in Lambeth with long-term conditions are as likely to be in and sustain, meaningful employment as equivalent white people.
To do this, Black Thrive is partnering with community members, statutory bodies and local organisations to achieve justice for the Black community through radical systems change. In September 2020, we launched our £300,000 grant fund to pilot projects that consider the lived experience of Black people with long-term conditions and have the potential to create systemic change. Projects should test and pilot new ideas that have the potential to shift the dial on employment outcomes and improve the evidence base around what works for Black people in Lambeth with long-term conditions.
The fund was managed and distributed by our Employment Working Group; a group of local Black residents with lived experience of managing one or multiple long-term conditions. We believe that prioritising community-power and lived experience is a radical way of funding new and exciting initiatives that may be overlooked by the traditional system. After receiving 84 applications, the Employment Working Group decided to fund 8 projects – the vast majority of which are led by Black and disabled people.
Funded projects include a radical self-care and wellness to work programme, the creation of a network of Black social entrepreneurs, supporting those recovering from mental illness and substance addiction back into employment through dog day-care traineeships and empowering Black people to develop employability skills through social action. To read more about all 8 projects please visit: https://employment.blackthrive.org.uk/our-grantees/
As the projects begin recruiting participants, it is important we ensure that the opportunities available reach the most marginalised people. This is a form of systems change in itself, as it will allow those people who fall outside of traditional referral pathways for services to still access support.
Given that carers have an intimate and trusting relationship with their loved ones based on an acute understanding of their needs, interests and goals, they are a vital network which cannot be overlooked! We strongly encourage all Lambeth-based Black carers to review the projects on offer, share them widely within your networks and follow the sign-up process if you, or someone you know, is interested in taking part.
Welcome to the august update of the Joint Lambeth & Southwark MH carers forum. This forum is run online due to covid-19 restrictions. The forum is aimed at those who are caring for someone with a mental illness. It is important carers understand what the mental health, health and local authority services has set aside for them and their loved ones.
For the month of August we were delighted to have John Lavelle the service director for Lambeth mental health services. We were also joined by Lee Roach who is the Head Occupational Therapist for Lambeth. In attendance were the carer members from both Southwark & Lambeth, Healthwatch Southwark and the chair of trustee’s from Southwark Carers.
The maim talking point for the August meeting was the Lambeth Hospital consultation. John spoke about how they want to improve the quality of the inpatient wards so that they can meet the most basic needs of the clients/patients. John stated that SLaM are committed to supporting people who are in distress because of their mental illness, they have an opportunity to build a new purpose, new mental health unit and SLaM are planning around how can they can make the service sustainable essentially for the future. I could certainly say most if not all members agreed with what John said.
It is well known that there has been number of periods of consultation for 12 weeks between March and May 2020. In the presentation to the forum from John, there were 2 options. Option 1 being that nothing is done about the state of Lambeth hospital or Option 2 where SLaM looks to relocate 4 acute wards and the Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) to a new purpose-built facility on the Maudsley site, Denmark Hill.
There was another option to develop a new facility on the existing Lambeth Hospital site, but it failed to meet 2 key affordability tests.
These were that the option required additional capital of between £30 million and £35 million due to additonal infrastructure and loss of capital receipts, coupled with a need to decant at least one ward to the Bethlem and another to the Maudsley, causing significan disruption.
So eventually planning permission was granted in January 2020 by Southwark Council to replace the existing vacant Douglas Bennett House facility on the Maudsley Hospital site. It was also mentioned in John’s presentation that Service Users, Clinicians and Carers from a number of boroughs attended workshops to help shape the design so that a service user voice was present from the beginning of the design process.
The facility includes 72 acute beds for Lambeth patients across four 18 bedded wards. The wards will be single gender, compliant with modern standards and ventilated with direct unsupervised access to outside space. The facility will also include a Psychiatric intensive care unit and a rehabilitation ward designed to support the needs of these services.
Lastly two national specialist wards, neuropsychiatry and eating disorders will be transferred from the Bethlem Royal Hospital.
The carer forum were then showed their first visual of what one of the rooms would look like.
John Lavelle mentioned the mock ups are designed to give a with an idea what we think the rooms would look like. It is based on the drawings of that the architects came up with so the forum saw then would be things like flooring, textures and colors and even then those things might change.
John showed us what the dining space consisted of. He explained in the dining space there are two gentlemen sitting through the window and to the left is that kind of living space as you will see in the top left hand corner, one of our wards, current dining room on the London hospital site.
The carers forum were shown some figures in where
There were 235 responses regarding the consultation
48 people participated in focus groups and public event
148 responses in the online survey
24 people then also commented on facebook
171,189 were reached through the facebook adverts
12 email responses regarding the consultation
One thing noted was even though SLaM had the intention to have some face to face meetings, they ended up having to move everything to virtual because of the COVID-19 issues. There also was a focus on making sure new services would target hard to reach communities especially those from BAME background who often would feel they were being let down or having to miss out on services.
Of the response to the proposals with about 84 % of responses were being being in favor of the change. Plus of that 64% were positive in the move of the wards to Maudsley.
SLam also did a specific work with a black male group around the consultation, and I found that there needs to be some further work to do around culturally appropriate inpatient clinical offer.
A good example was that one member of that particular group mentioned that the ward looks great, but actually, it’s what happens within that Ward is most important. So John mentioned in regards to BAME communities that maybe we arent getting it right for the moment. There is still a lot of work to do.
There will be a piece of work that is going to start in September, which is going to be supported by black thrive, which then will have SLaM think about what their offer is to black men as an example, when they are using patient services. This is work in progress, but SLaM are committed to that as part of the feedback from the consultation process.
John mentioned that they will be analyzing that the data that they got back done by the trust or by the CCG. And it’s just a bit of worth reminder that the consultation was actually a CCG consultation, because they are the people that ask slam on their behalf to provide the services to Lambeth. So the CCG led on the consultation and now SLaM’s healthcare consulting team is going to do the consultation and they have produced a report on the Lambeth’s Together website.
At the end of the presentation I stated it was an excellent presentation and it always helps when you’re describing something that seems really complex. This is one of the reasons for this forum is to get carers in the community and those who’s going to be affected by those changes to get at least an idea and get a chance to ask queries or comments or even compliments if you think this is something that’s really needed
Questions from the forum members
First to ask queries where representatives from Healthwatch Southwark.
Healthwatch felt it was really interesting to see and wondered if SLaM had like a Lamberth versus Southwark resident breakdown, because they were a bit concerned that maybe less people from Southwark had been heard from because the presentation was kind of titled as like improving services for Lambeth.
Another interesting query was on how wide the consultation going to be? as in numbers wide. A carer queried on is it just the local community because the impression they got from the report is its the local community. Plus it’s a Lambeth hospital and it should go to the whole Lambeth and and what does it now offer to the whole of Lambeth rather than the local area. The carer felt that it seems to present sort of housing project and, and and who’s going to administer that, for instance, who’s going to have The freehold at that particular site?
One other carer stated they came across the survey document in May, but they wasn’t aware then that the there was no provision being made for the Leo Ward and the early onset for psychosis Ward that is currently at Lambeth hospital. They felt according to the one of the therapists from the Leo community mental health team, which has been caring for the person they are looking after. That ward was the only early onset ward in the whole of the country.
The carer felt the ward was fit for purpose when their ‘loved one’ was there and the ward had an en suite bathroom. It was basic, but it was fine. It had an outside exercise area, and it was all on ground level. There was a separate male and female words with communal are. There were separate rooms for visitors to explore and visitors to meet a family members the carer felt that her ‘cared for’ had a good experience in that ward.
We also had another carer talk about their daughters experiences in those wards. The carers daugher did not go into Leo Ward and still the Carer did agree with what was said Leo was a good word. As the carer felt it gave both communal areas and it gave privacy for people as well and they had access to outside to meet each other in for games. The carer concluded that access to outside is important, and they don’t think that can be really possible in the tower block. On the other hand the carer agreed that the other wards are not fit for purpose at all. They’re dreadful!!
I mentioned it was good to hear that there is a push towards engaging the black community, particularly in the sense that certain things are just not quite getting there. I asked John that although he mentioned Black Thrive, I have noticed they are quite active in Lambeth. I continued to state that I’m not sure who’s the lead or use the contact for black thrive in Southwark, so I wondered who is contact overall regarding consultation under black thrive, be good to get their perspective in this forum.
Some contacts were mentioned, but also there might be at some point an opportunity for somebody to come and talk to us about the race equality framework standards that piece of work which essentially, is about assessing SLaM against some standards that have been set nationally.
Southwark Healthwatch mentioned in response to another carer’s concern about a blog they did. They had a previous presentation about the kind of safety of the ward and the architecture where someone asked a question, kind of related to what the carer was concerned about, which is shown below.
John finished up saying that they do have a communications and engagement group that was originally set up to think about the consultation processes and what material they might want to use and who they needs to engage with as part of the consultation processes.
SLaM are moving on the journey of the new build and providing samples and giving sign off really soon. So they will continue to think about how they can keep engaging with our communities in understanding what’s happening with the new build and what they are doing around whether it’s working with black men or whatever the different possibilities. SLam are going to keep engagement for the next few years.
Lambeth Lead for Occupational therapy presents
Lee Roach has been busy and presented a set of initatives regarding carers. Lee admitted that they have a particular challenge in the patient information system. Especially on recording information about carers.
So what they have decided to do in Lambeth is focus one week initially on carers as a is focused week. Lamberth are undertaking a number of different events during that week.
Lee thanked one of the carer members who’s agreed to come and talk to a couple of teams about her experiences as a carer.
When Lee was thinking about what what to do for those carer events, he really felt personally that the biggest impact on himself as a clinician is hearing the kind of narratives of people that his worked with and that usually has the biggest impact in terms of people reflecting on what they’re doing and so changing their practice. So in terms of hearing the experience of a carer, Lee think that’s quite an effective way of actually impacting change.
What Lee want to see as a result of the week’s events is a greater awareness of the resources that are available to carers that staff can refer people onto. Lee also wants to run a greater awareness of some of the resources that our staff can show carers on the wards. There also has been sign off of that they want more carers involved in the involvement register.
Breakdown of events
Lee spoke about the plan of the carer focused events. Where a carer agreed to talk to the to one of their teams on Monday so that’s the low intensity treatment team about her experience.
They are currently working across two sites. While they are working across a number of sites the majority the mental health teams are working on two sites. There will be another carer who will be talking to the team there about her experience on Tuesday afternoon.
The inpatient Lamberth inpatient care his group will meet virtually that started two weeks ago. Where they had 12 people attend that group. One of one of whom was was attending from another country. On Wednesday afternoon Lee is hosting a roundtable talk with possible Lambeth CCG, carers and Lambeth healthwatch. Then on thursday is the Leo ward community carers group. Then on Friday they are launching the ward lockers project from one of the involved carers who has been active inputting ideas.
This concludes the update for the August Joint Southwark & Lambeth MH carers forum. The September forum will have Kings College hospital feeding back updates on their Mental Health strategy.
Welcome to the month of June joint Southwark and Lambeth MH carers forum. I usually run this forum at the Maudsley hospital. As a reminder the carer forums are aimed at carers who care for someone with a mental health need. I run around 5 carer groups each month and most of the groups work towards engagement, co-production, involvement, education and querying about mental health and social care services.
The Joint Southwark and Lambeth carers forum runs online due to the corona virus. Carers from either Southwark or Lambeth will need a free application called Zoom either on their computer, laptop or mobile phone to attend the meeting.
For the June meeting we were Joined by Southwark Healthwatch, Lambeth Healthwatch, Lewisham Healthwatch and also Greenwich Healthwatch where they traded ideas about carer projects. We were also joined by the trustees of Southwark Carers, Southwark impatient carer lead and also a carer who is a carer peer supporter. Both SLaM Southwark and Lambeth advisory group carer members attended and we were also jointed by Cllr Jasmine Ali who is Southwark Council’s Cabinet Member for Children, Schools and Adult Care. In attendance was Cllr Danial Adilypour who is the Lambeth Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care and Finally the main speaker to engage with carers is MP Helen Hayes.
Coming off the back of carers week, the forum was interested to hear what Southwark and Lambeth council had been doing for carers in both boroughs. First we heard from Southwark Healthwatch from all the work they have been doing to highlight the situation unpaid carers face in the borough.
Southwark Healthwatch update on carers
Southwark Healthwatch spoke about listening to peoples experiences of health and social care and trying to make change to the wider community. Over the years Southwark Healthwatch spoke about the priority areas and one of them being unpaid carers. In 2019 their project on unpaid carers looked at surveys, focus groups and interviews with carers.
Results of the project looked at the daily life of carers with themes being on qualitative experiences. The project looked looked at the Impact of caring, which was reported to be very extensive, emotional and intense.
Other findings were
Carers felt they were going on beyond the roles of caring – especially on care coordination.
It was noted some carers were doing 69 hrs of unpaid care each week.
Stress levels, tiredness a strain on carers Mental Health.
Financial situation under strain due to multiple levels of care.
Southwark Healthwatch looked at the support carers were getting through social care services, this became an additional challenge for carers due to chasing people on the phone. Bureaucracy led to isolation of carers. Carers reported back that interaction with social workers or GP was not always a positive about the experience. Many felt the levels of service was inconsistent, lacking support and empathy, which led to distrust of council provision.
Carers did value one off support for benefits applications, carer assessments. Carers also felt activity groups were useful along with respite, but must be flexible. Counselling was hugely important for carers.
Carer members at the forum queried carer counselling services either from Southwark Carers, SLaM or Southwark council.
Southwark HW are going to raise this at Southwark Council’s “Carers Board”, hopefully the forum will get some feedback on this. The forum is worried about funding and accessiblity of counselling since Southwark carers lost their counselling service due to funding.
Greenwich Healthwatch fed back that on young carers awareness day they visited some schools and wrote a report on the experience of young carers, they felt that young carers are not heard in the borough and will be learning from others on what could be needed.
MP Helen Hayes engagement with forum
Helen gave overview of issues raised from when she the last attend our forum back in November 2019 . Helen updated the forum on how COVID-19 affected both Southwark and Lambeth boroughs. She noted that COVID-19 has shone a spotlight on inequalities in Health and social care. Corona virus has impacted the community’s mental health due to lose of income and difficulties accessing food and medicine. Helen’s email inbox is hitting over 1000 emails a week due to the coronavirus alone
MP Helen Hayes
She wants to take back views of Mental Health carers back to parliament and spoke how one of Labour’s previous election pledges was on increase of carer allowance. There is also a focus on the need for paid leave for carers, which they will continue to work on.
Helen spoke on how Carers assessments under carers act and how the Care Act a welcome reform, but was not supported by levels of funding. Helen mentioned that she is the Co-Chair of the All Party Parliament Group on Adult Social Care and they were working hard to reduce the fragmentation of the care sector.
She stressed that both Southwark and Lambeth council have been working very hard to address those needs and although she has been MP for Dulwich and Norwood for 5 years, she felt that MH issues will rise due to the problems corona virus has impacted on the communities.
The forum raised the issue of care homes especially the problem of how COVID impacted them as many carers have loved ones in support housing or care homes.
I also asked Helen about involvement for carers at the highest levels, where Helen phrased the importance of “Nothing about me without me”. She agrees that those who are expert by experience should be involved in policy or carers be allowed to co-design and co-produce.
Update from Cllr Jasmine Ali on Southwark Council commitment to carers
Jasmine thanked Helen Hayes for her support when COVID caused so much distress in the borough of Southwark.
Cllr Jasmine Ali
Jasmine was not a fan of the work Matt Hancock has done so far, but at least we are slowly getting in a better place. Jasmine noted that adult social care and carers are a big priority in the borough. She reported that there are around 26,000 carers in Soutwark alone, but she was proud of the work that Southwark’s Wellbeing hub, Southwark carers and older peoples hub were doing. Jasmine talked to the forum about Southwark’s future plans and that there will be a strong emphasis on advocacy, guidence and signposting.
She spoke about the importance of SLaM’s recovery college and how a focus needs to look at increasing the caring relationship between cared for and carer. There are plans to Link carers with Universal services e.g. public health, learning and leisure and the developing work on Southwark’s Carers joint strategy, need assessments and the carers pathway board. She wanted to hear what are issues being raised from the forum.
Jasmine spoke on the importance and need for the Ethical care charter and carers charter, although a lot of work has stopped she fedback that by the end of June things will start up again.
Update from Cllr Danial Adilypour on Lambeth Council’s commitment to carers
Danial agreed with what both speakers raised at the forum and mentioned carers are a very important issue in the borough of Lambeth. There are big pieces of work from the boroughs “carers card” scheme which came out of Lambeth Carers Strategy. First part of the launch was actually off carers week 2020. The Second part of the ‘carers card’ launch will be at the end of the year, where businesses will provide a range of discounts to carers.
Cllr Danial Adilypour
Daniel gave out stats and showed there are around 20,000 carers in Lambeth. He mentioned that the Lambeth carers card is not the end of what is being offered off Lambeth Carers strategy, there will be more to come.
Currently there is a helpline open during the corona crisis. Lambeth council will work on several strands being.
A&E services (the problem of people not accessing services due to MH), but will work with Lambeth’s ‘Living well network alliance’ to increase access to A&E.
The problem of Social isolation is another strand Lambeth is going to work on where they will develop a strategy.
Lastly Daniel stated that Mental Health will hit Lambeth due to the COVID situation, Lambeth will continue to engage with groups on this topic, especially the MH carers forum.
Carers from the forum were queried Cllr Danial regarding the SLaMs Lambeth hospital consultation. There will be wider plans over the coming years involved with Lambeth carers strategy to engage with forum.
Healthwatch Lambeth Update
The forum was joined by Lambeth’s Healthwatch Natalia Sali who is their Engagement Manager. She Updated us on the 80 page report of Lambeth Hospital consultation recommendations.
She reported that over the month carers were fearful of using services. So because of this, Lambeth Healthwatch put on an webinar event where Speakers from Kings college hospital and a GP from a surgery presented what services are available for users.
Consultations are online at least and Lambeth HW will expect changes to face to face appointments, but this depends on virus
Lambeth Healthwatch will continue to speak to carers, older adults and young people regarding experiences in care packages during pandemic. As of this moment Lambeth HW are runing webinar’s every 2 weeks, the latest one on pregnancy, which did interest a member of the forum.
Updates from SLaM and forum carer members
David Meyrick SLaM’s carer inpatient rep fed back on how SLaM’s wards were
Allowing visitors back on ward, but visitors need to respect social distancing.
Developing a ‘missing in action’ project on female wards.
Looking into wards becoming more family friendly during visiting hours.
Carers strategy is in a draft.
Webinar course at SLaM recovery in July.
How the Peer support groups were continuing to run online.
The SLaM carer peer support runs every Wednesday from 6 till 7 online, where the carer peer support updated the forum on how the carers group was getting along.
We also had Updates from Southwark Advisory group members on
Producing a video for SLaM website on what Service user involvement does
What can be learnt from COVID-19
Qualification courses for patients
Updates from Lambeth Advisory group
Richie QI peer lead asked the group on what patients expect from services
Met with the Head of Lambeth Alliance chair on regarding how their Covid-19 strategy would be developing.
Welcome back to a quick update from another Mental Health Carer forum. This one was a joint forum since due to the election candidates had to cover many areas to campaign and it was harder for them to visit each forum.
On Thursday the 28th of November, we had our Joint Southwark and Lambeth MH carer forum, which was held over at Moasic Clubhouse during the morning. The host for the joint forum was Carers Hub Lambeth who do an amazing amount of work for unpaid carers in the borough of Lambeth.
A bit more about Carers Hub Lambeth. Carers’ Hub Lambeth is an independent local charity based in Brixton, They seek to limit the dilemma’s placed on carers by two key ways. One way is by working with carers directly, and the other by influencing the local services and policies that affect them. Hence this is why we built up the Lambeth MH carers forum, which has been running quite a few years now.
We were also jointed by unpaid carers from Southwark Carers and a bit about them.
Southwark Carers try to make it easier for Carers to have a life outside of caring by 3 key areas, this is by Enabling, empowering and enriching the lives of carers in the London Borough of Southwark. Southwark Carers enabling service is a flexible, individual, personalised service offering support on a one-to-one, plus their empowering service provides carers with information and knowledge of their rights and lastly they help in enriching unpaid carers lives by offering leisure activities or by helping them return to training, education or work.
I was very proud that both groups of unpaid carers came together from both boroughs to be heard on issues affecting carers from the two boroughs.
About the forums
Both Southwark and the Lambeth MH carer forums work the same way as the Lewisham and the Lewisham BAME MH carer forums. The forum is not much of a support group (those are a different and complex animal), they are mean’t to empower unpaid carers who are active in connecting with other carers and the community. The way mental health services are run are complex and also a mystery. These services affect unpaid carers regardless of what anyone thinks. Unpaid carers should be empowered to know what is going on and why. Even then, that is not enough. Unpaid carers should be involved and not be a tickbox or an afterthought.
Where it took place
As mentioned, the joint forum took place at Moasic Clubhouse, which supports people who are living with a mental health condition in the London Borough of Lambeth. Mosaic’s approach is built on the internationally-recognised Clubhouse model , which embeds coproduction between staff and members throughout all activities.
On the day Helen Hayes (candidates for Dulwich & West Norwood in the 2019 general election) visited and engaged with both patients, staff and carer groups to here about the good work they do and listen to burning issues or questions. Helen has been a long promoter of both carer forums and she has visited and engaged with both the Southwark and Lambeth MH carer forums several times already. She works tirelessly to represent the community and often checks up on how things are getting along.
Why it is important to have relations to MPs and candidates
I often felt that carers have a really tough time getting mental health services or the local authority to listen to their issue, which is why when unpaid carers get together, they should have a link to government representatives and a lot more. If there are forces that wish to drown out an unpaid carer concerns, then there is always a risk many would seek to avoid or limit the groups activities. Its not that unpaid carers want to moan or complain, its just they wish to be heard and be counted.
As a bonus on why it is important for unpaid carers to get a voice in government circles. I have included Carers UK Manifesto on the General Election in the Link below and also Carers Trust’s Think Carer 2019 pledge.
You will have to forgive me as I completely forgot my notebook, so I did not note anything down.
I had built up the forums to help empower unpaid carers, so I was really happy to see another carer chair such an important meeting and I really hope many will talk about how impressed they were with her.
Helen briefed us on how Labour will strive hard to get the unpaid carer’s voice heard. Labour will strive to work on the Mental Health Act 1983 amendments, but she also mentioned that through years of austerity services had struggled, which in turn lead to difficulty in unpaid carers lives.
I mentioned to Helen my role at the Royal College of Nursing due to the amount of pressures placed on student nurses and nursing in general, we really hope the government will seek to support not just patients, but nurses and unpaid carers. The NHS has taken blow after blow due to lack of foresight and lack of investment, although the intention has been good, intention alone is not enough and too often the social care angle has been kicked down the road.
I have also added RCN’s Safe Staffing Saves Lives link below.
Up for discussion was also the impact of the Care Act 2014 as many unpaid carer was left wondering, what difference has it made since more services were drawn into the local authority and grassroots carer charities have been striped of their power, were funding has been cut and staff at carer centers told to do more. From what I have noticed, it has been a complex web of bureaucracy and deceit where heads and directors of social care are not engaging with groups and make decisions without hearing the stories of those affected by those decisions.
Many unpaid Mental Health carers are wondering what bite does the Care Act 2014 have, when very few are aware what it is meant to do, which probably it is aimed to highlight and protect carers rights.
There have been situations and stories where the Local Authority gang up with mental health services and push the family or carer out of involvement for the cared for. It is like the carer is not a professional in their own right and the law see’s it that way. Nevermind the peer support, services can and often collude with each other to drown out the struggles the carer or ‘cared for’ may have, which is why we as a group look to the politicians to not only represent us at government, but bring us along in the journey.
If things go wrong or nothing gets settled, then we carers are a patient lot, but we must try and try and try again using different methods.
Lambeth Carers Strategy
Up also for debate was the Lambeth Council’s Carer’s Strategy and how things were forming on the councils responsibility to its unpaid carers. I have always been a firm promoter that local authorities engage with carers on what they are doing for carers. It is not enough to assume strategies are too hard or complex for unpaid carers to get involved in. Even if the carers strategy does not amount to much, at least it raises awareness of unpaid carers and is a way to hold the council to account. There will be an update on Lambeth’s Carer strategy next year, but I am interested on how other council’s strategies are developing or if they are non-existent.
One method was through Healthwatch, which works to ensure local people’s voices count when it comes to shaping and improving local health and social care services. As with Lewisham Healthwatch, the joint forum was joined by Lambeth Healthwatch due to the proposal of the closure of Lambeth hospital.
The discussions were well thought out and there was alarm among unpaid carers about the distance and proximity of services moving to Southwark. Even when Lambeth has very high rates of mental illness in the borough we feel there has not been the paper trail of consultations and get the feeling that the Lambeth hospital closure is a done deal. Many still understand that the hospital is not fit for purpose, but cannot understand why Southwark is slowly draining access to services away from Lambeth.
There was a lot more in the discussion, which unfortunately I cannot remember now, but Lambeth Healthwatch will certainly take this back to the council and CCG. We await updates in the new year. We as a forum continue to seek a relationship with the Healthwatches and other parties including the CCGs, we do not want to make life hard for the decision makers, but we do need to be involved, empowered and heard on specific issues and queries.
No matter what government gets in power, we as unpaid carers will strive to get our voices heard due to the nature of our cause and struggles. It is only fair that what we do for the love of our ‘cared for’ and the ‘community’ that we should not be ignored.
Welcome to the October update of one of the 4 carer engagement forums I either promote and chair. This particular forum is over in Lambeth and kindly hosted by Lambeth Carers hub.
Carers’ Hub Lambeth is an independent local charity based in Brixton. They are there to relieve the stresses experienced by unpaid carers who live in or care for somebody living in Lambeth. This also includes those carers trying to care for someone suffering from mental illness, although I will use the term suffering lightly since some service users feel there is strength in at least fighting through mental health.
The Lambeth Mental Health Carers forum is a platform for carers to come together, discuss and engage with services. It is important for unpaid carers to have that relationship with community, social and mental health services. Carers need to have that space where they are empowered to ask why certain service provision is the way it is.
Most times unpaid carers are satisfied with the answers they get. Other times, such answers lead to more questions and some questions might even go so far to be quite complex. It is not enough for unpaid carers to tell their stories time and time again. Carers should be encouraged to point their noses into things that affect the carer’s journey.
For the October forum, we had Rebecca Martland visit us. She is doing a Research project on ‘Feasibility of high intensity interval training in improving physical and mental health in inpatients with severe mental illness’. Yes, it is a long title, but the project is critically important because so many patients suffer from physical ill health due to inactivity and having difficultly finding someone to provide mentoring in physical health training.
Rebecca Martland who is a researcher from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience leads on this research. The IOPPN is a research institution dedicated to discovering what causes mental illness and diseases of the brain. In addition, its aim is to help identify new treatments for them. Rebecca also works for South London & Maudsley, where the IOPPN is in partnership with SLaM.
Rebecca wants to run more Focus groups with inpatients with SMI, carers of patients with SMI and staff to scope perceptions of attitudes and practicalities of the HIIT study.
It was great for Rebecca not only to have attended the Southwark MH carers forum, but also engage with carers from the Lambeth MH carers forum in the same month, which I admire greatly. I was happy to also hear some carers have signed up to her focus group to give ideas on the research.
The forum then spent some time going through last month’s minutes, which had been drawn up by James Holdcroft from Carers Hub Lambeth. James had done a brilliant job recording difficult meetings and helping us members keep focus on issues raised.
We discussed a few things from the minutes, one being the consultation on what will happen to Lambeth Hospital, others discussions where on SLaM’s patient record system and also discussions about carers assessments and tracking the numbers of unpaid carers in the borough Lambeth.
Next up at the Lambeth MH carers forum was Robert Stebbings the Policy and Communications Officer from Adfam. Robert was here to update the forum on the work Adfam has been doing throughout the year, specially with families and carers.
Adfam is the national charity working to improve life for families affected by drugs or alcohol. They work heavily with families caring for someone affected by drugs or alcohol. Their vision is allowing those affected by addiction to have the chance to benefit from healthy relationships, be part of a loving and supportive family and enjoy mental and physical wellbeing.
Adfam do a lot of campaigning and policy work. Off their site it was amazing to see how many groups their CEO was working with, those being.
The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs
Commission on domestic and sexual violence and multiple disadvantage
Mentor-ADEPIS steering group
Safer gambling campaign advisory panel
Manchester Metropolitan University’s substance use and end-of-life care steering group.
One of the members of the Lambeth MH Carers forum had even been involved with Adfam visiting parliament to discuss the latest initiatives on addiction, which I was very proud to hear carers working hard to be heard.
Robert spoke about the difficulties Drug, alcohol and addiction can cause to families.
Constant worry and anxiety on families affected
Bereavement, especially when addiction leads to someone taking their life
The problems of trust and denial.
Impact on wellbeing and health
Feeling no light at the end of the tunnel
….and other life-changing impacts on families.
Robert also explained to the forum about the issues of stigma, which goes hand in hand when someone is suffering from addiction, as although addiction is recognized as mental ill health, a lot of people still see such behaviour as a matter of choice.
Plus he discussed what Peer Support and Advocacy groups Adfam have been providing and how they work.
We were told how families and carers felt the following issues were a difficult path to navigate being,
Loved one not honest with professionals or the nature of their problems
Service cuts and configurations
Plus families having to keep pushing the benefits of care involvement to professionals.
You can find out more about Adfam from their link below.
The members of the Lambeth MH carers forum discussed how the Carers UK conference went and were pleased I had a presence there. There was a request that I do a presentation on engaging with GP’s. The members are also very excited about next month’s visit from by the MP Helen Hayes. They probably are interested in what is being done for mental health in the borough of Lambeth and updates on how the borough of Lambeth & Southwark is supporting unpaid carers.
Thanks for stopping by my carer website. This is an update from the Lambeth area. Did you know that Carers Hub Lambeth has several forums? I managed to attend their ‘Carers Voices’ forum which is held at We Are 336 in Brixton on Thursday Sept 19th 10.30 am – 12.00 pm.
So what is Carers Hub Lambeth?
Carers’ Hub Lambeth is an independent local charity based in Brixton. They are there to reduce the stresses experienced by unpaid carers who live in or care for somebody living in Lambeth. They advocate, refer and provide a wellbeing and empowering resource for carers in the borough.
For the Carers Hub Lambeth forum, we were joined by Stephanie who is busy working on Kings College NHS trust’s Carers strategy. As you know that NHS trust is massive with at least several other hospital sites from the Princess Royal University Hospital in Kent to King’s College Hospital Clinics in the middle east to along with a wide range of NHS services, some I have listed below.
Acute and emergency care
Critical care, radiology and MEP (medical engineering and physics)
Haematology and precision medicine
Liver and renal
Planned surgery, ophthalmology and optometry
Post-acute, planned medicine and outpatients
Theatres and anaesthetics
Therapy, rehabilitation and allied clinical services
and much more…..
However something critical is missing? Although not all patients may need family support, there is a lack of focus on how the NHS trust involves and incorporates carers. This is why Kings College NHS trust has been engaging with carer groups and forums from Lambeth to Southwark. I was amazed Stephanie from Kings remembered me when she used to work for Lewisham Healthwatch, since I spend a lot of time engaging with the healthwatches (I am sure they must be fed up for me). Still, this is great news that a hospital has managed to employ someone with such a strong engagement background.
We had many detailed and focused suggestions from carers at the forum. Plus we were provided with how the Trust looks to take on the new Carers Passport, which helps to identify carers and gives access to other resources that are useful for families and carers. Guys & St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust also provide the carers passport, but might be developing a few other things for families and carers.
After the consultation, the forum were presented with updates from the Lambeth PPG network. We looked into the use of online appointments and digital health applications. There was a good discussion on how carers can influence their GP surgery to provide better engagement and support for carers providing support to a patient.
It is important carers query how GP surgeries are doing in the borough of Lambeth and if the doctor’s practice even have a Patient Participation Group. This concludes my update for the Lambeth’s Carers Voices forum until the Lambeth Mental Health carers forum
Welcome to the latest update from the lambeth mental health carers forum. The Lambeth mental health carers forum seeks to engage and involve carers who provide care and support to those with mental health needs. When I say mental health carers I am talking about those who are unpaid, I am not talking about care workers.
Here is the update from the Lambeth mental health carers forum for August.
The forum runs every last Thursday of the month. The forum is aimed at unpaid carers who are supporting someone suffering from mental ill health. The forum gives a chance for carers to discuss strategy, become empowered and engage with services.
The forum helps bring involvement out into the community, we also seek to network with other carers and track what is happening to carers welfare in the borough of Lambeth.
I had a bit of a break this month from charing because we had two new chairs for the August form.
For the month of August, We were lucky to have liason Staff member Tim Allen from SLaM presenting on caring for someone with depression. Tim also told us more about his role and how their team engages with those suffering from mental health crisis.
It was interesting hearing about the inspirations and challenges the mental health team were going through. Tim had a lot of knowledge to pass on and I’m sure the group had benefited from his wisdom.
For the second guest invite, Victoria Cabral from Black Thrive replaced Denis O’Rourke from the CCG, as Denis cannot attend this month but will attend a future forum instead. Victoria mentioned several reasons why ‘Black Thrive’ are active in the borough of Lambeth.
Here are some of the reasons below
– There is a high rate of black people using the mental health system in Lambeth
– The death of Sean Riggs has shocked the community in Lambeth and things have to change.
– Due to the High representation of black people using the mental health system, there also seems to be a lack of black people taking advantage of mental health services at an earlier stage.
– We need more involvement for black people to be helping to shape mental health services rather than just being the recipient of Health Services.
You can find out more information from their website below.
There were other things discussed, like trying to keep slam staff motivated and making sure SLaM keep good staff at the NHS Trust.
We also discussed carer experiences at Lambeth Hospital, plus how the trust should be trying to work within the principles of the Triangle of care. A good part of the forum looked into trying to care for someone who does not want to engage with mental health services, which many unpaid carers can experience.
The problems of lack of staff and lack of services or end up putting pressures on families and carers, it was mentioned that it is vitally important carers get a voice and speak up about their difficult role.
Welcome to the May’s update of the Lambeth Mental Health Carer forum. It has been a while since I did an update for the forum, since I could not attend the previous Lambeth MH carer forum and forgot to blog about the other previous forums.
This forum caters for unpaid carers who are caring for someone with a mental health need, e.g. someone suffering from psychosis, eating disorder, depression, bipolar and other MH illnesses.
The forum is strategic and gives carers the involvement and empowerment to query, question and even compliment the mental health services in Lambeth and sometimes beyond e.g. we are hoping to have a representative from NHS england attend in future.
Welcome back and here is the update for the Lambeth MH carers forum for August 2017. This Mental Health Carers is for those who care ‘unpaid’ for someone suffering from a mental illness. This is the third forum, which I co-chaired with a fellow carer member.