Tag Archives: mental health

International Stress Awareness Week- How stress can affect carers

Fotolia_73087289_XSThanks for stopping by, since the release of this blog we recently had International Stress Awareness Week 2019.  I wanted to write something up during that week, but unfortunately I missed the boat, I guess I have been so busy.  Still, unpaid carers suffer from a lot of stress and I still want to highlight such an important issue.

 

What is International Stress Awareness Week?

Promoted by the International Stress Management Association (ISMA), although many other mental health organisations are free to promote it. The International Stress Management Association [ISMAUK] is a registered charity and the lead professional body for workplace and personal Stress Management, Well-being and on Performance. They usually promote sound knowledge and best practice.

International Stress Awareness Week usually runs from Monday 4 – Friday 9 November.

The theme I think for national Stress awareness week is “Resilience” which is defined as how we deal with and recover from highly pressured or stressful situations and experiences. Off my video I talk about finding resilience in great detail. So please have a watch when you can.

I have noticed a lot of mental health organisations promote how stress can effect the workplace.

Just to note, I have done a lengthy video blog on the affects of stress and how it impacts not just carers, but everyone, to view press the video below.

Every year, in the UK an estimated 17 million days are lost to stress, anxiety and depression.

Some Facts about stress

Stress is the feeling of being unable to cope as a result of too much mental or emotional pressure.

Common signs of stress can include sleeping problems, loss of appetite and difficulty concentrating. You may feel anxious, irritable, experience rapid thoughts and worry constantly.

Here are some quick facts, but to hear more about them, please check out my video.

1. Long-term stress can increase your risk of mental health disabilities
2. Frequent stress decreases your immune system
3. Relationships play a key role in your daily stress levels
4. The right amount of stress is beneficial, but too much is deadly.

Stress and unpaid carers

As you probably already know, I am an unpaid carer and have suffered a lot of stress in the past, even now I admit sometimes stress gets the better of me.  Sometimes that is ok, but allowing stress to consume you can have devastating side effects.

I have provided a list below on how unpaid carers can suffer from stress, take note that the things mentioned are not comprehensive, but at least the most common.

Depressed woman sitting on stairs

1. Being overloaded in providing care can cause all sorts of stress
2. As mentioned before relationships with the ‘cared for’ can also be stressful
3. A major form of stress is the health or declining health of a ‘loved one’
4. Sometimes carers have to hold down a job, if caring becomes too much, then work performance can suffer.
5. Financial issues can be an extra form of stress for unpaid carers coping with lack of support.
6. If caring becomes difficult, this can affect sleep and eating habits, these are very stress inducing.

How does stress affect us?

Just to note, stress affects people differently, what happens to one person might not happen to another.

1. Our emotional behaviour changes, it is easier to become irritable, sad and depressed.
2. You can also feel very hot and sweat when suffering stress
3. Constant stress can also affect the body in many ways including headaches, stomach issues and blood pressure.
4. Stress can certainly affect your breathing as many begin to breath faster as their heart beat increases.

Dealing with Stress to find Resilience

Below I have listed things that can help you find resilience in combating stress.  For more information, please check out the video.

Silhouette of man showing his hand on sunset sky background, Successful business concept.

  • Breathe.
  • Dance.
  • Give yourself enough time to do things, planing can go a long way.
  • Go for a walk in the park.
  • Go swimming.
  • Jog or find other ways to do some exercise
  • Laugh
  • Listen to music.
  • Meditate.
  • Pet therapy can be useful. Connecting with pets.
  • Read.
  • ** Recognize the Signs (number one rule).
  • Stay Connected with others
  • Talk to Your Doctor or Health Care Provider
  • Take a yoga class, or give yourself one.
  • Take warm, relaxing baths.
  • Watch television.
  • Water and admire your plants.

Conclusion

It is important to look after your health, especially if someone is relying on you. If you do not recognise or deal with stress levels, then stress will deal with you. Your health will become a major factor in supporting others, let alone yourself. Find out more about stress by visiting the ISMA site on https://www.isma.org.uk/

Carer traits and characteristics

Finger art of a Happy couple. The concept of couple laughing.Welcome back, Its not long until “Carers Rights day”, which takes place on the 21st of November. I am sure to do a blog and maybe a video about it, but still it is a couple of weeks away, but keep a look out for local carer events in the meantime. This particular blog is on carer character traits.

Basically when people think about unpaid carers, they often think that the person is just caring for someone. In a way there are correct, but delve a little deeper and they could be off target. There is a whole lot more to a carers world than what people might think.

So I have decided to list and briefly explain some unpaid character traits, this blog is aimed not only at health professionals, but carers themselves who might wish to understand what they might find helpful on their carers journey.

Please take take note, not all unpaid carers are the same and due to trying to keep the blog post short, I have missed out a lot of carer character traits and skills.

Providing a simple hug.

Not all carers do this, it really depends on the relationship with the ‘cared for’. Some unpaid carers are very close to the person suffering either mental or physical ill health, but giving a simple hug to that person can help more than any words can say.

Authenticity

Just caring for someone shows that you are wearing the badge, you are wearing the carer’s badge and no one can say you have not been there. If asked to speak about your carers journey, then you will understand. An unpaid carers journey can be difficult, full of tension and a roller coaster ride. As a carer you can expect to take some massive blows, but at the same time you are growing stronger in your cause.

real

Being a shoulder to cry on (very difficult)

Not always easy especially if the ‘cared for’ is distant from you, but as a carer you can always be there as a shoulder to cry on. There will be times that the ‘cared for’ will be let down by everyone, be it friends, health systems and so on. If you are close to the ‘cared for’, just being a carer will give them the opportunity to be the last person they can cry to.

shoulder to cy

Being Present (most important!!)

The most important trait of an unpaid carer. There are only a few other ways to care, but being there is the ultimate role of a carer. Some people have big families, but not everyone in that family is going to equally care for the ‘cared for’. Sometimes the carer is the one who will sacrifice or put on hold their life to provide that much needed support. A carer will be there at hospital appointments, doctors appointments, care plan assessments, benefit assessments, they will provide medication or chase things up and more. Being there for the ‘cared for’ is what it takes to be a carer.

Being there when times are tough (difficult)

Being there is NOT enough, its when the chips are down that the true worth of being a carer is on the line. Its no good providing support when the crisis is over, but I am aware that carers cannot be around the person all the time. I am also aware that it is not a criticism of carers who tried so hard, but were pushed away, especially mental health carers. Still, there will be times when the impossible may be asked of you, as a carer you will need to be there especially when there is a crisis.

being there

Believing

There are not many rule books on being a carer, there has been times when I am thinking to myself am I doing the right thing, because no one can really tell you that you are living your life the best way. There were times my ‘cared for’ hit crisis after crisis and I was banging my head against a brick way with all the bureaucracy, confidentiality and red tape. I was even dealing with bullying from NHS staff siding with the ‘cared for’s’ criticism of me and to be frank, I was on my own. The keyword is ‘Belief’, you as a carer might have to dig down and start believing in yourself. What are you caring for? What are you fighting for? What are the costs? The sacrifices? Is it all your fault? Sometimes only you can answer those questions.

Compassion

Very close to being there as a carer, you will need to show compassion, patience and to be kind. It is not easy to do if you are under stress or constant pressure, being compassionate can even extend to others if you practice being compassionate to the person you care for. If you lack compassion, then you could do damage to the relationship.

compassion-clipart-1

Confidentiality (Can be very difficult)

Sometimes carers have to be confidential about who they care for, but most times a carer will have to deal with confidentiality. It is frustrating because in the end it will be you that providing the carer and support, but how can you do your role if no one is saying what to expect for the ‘cared for’. Its like they are saying ‘Just get on with it’, when the patient is discharged into your care. I have noticed a culture where health professionals state the ‘cared for’ is discharged to the social worker’s care or the care coordinator’s care, but what happens they move on from their jobs or leave? The carer is the constant person in that role and should never be pushed aside or forgotten. Learn how confidentiality works, especially when Carer’s Rights Day takes place on the 21st of November.

confidentiality-clipart-confidentiality

Connection

Being a connection to someone is not easy at all. It depends how close you are to the ‘cared for’. Sometimes a carer is just a person in name and role, but being a connection to someone is highly psychology. There are whole books on the subject on connecting to others and the subject is also one of the ‘5 ways of wellbeing’.

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/improve-mental-wellbeing/

It is not always easy connecting to someone who is unwell, but it can benefit yourself as well as the ‘cared for’.

Empathy

Similar to compassion, Empathy is the capacity to understand or feel what the ‘cared for’ is experiencing. This is why many carers try hard to work out what the situation is, so that they can provide adequate support and care. Without empathy then you are making guess work, but sometimes it is not always the carers fault. If unpaid carers are pushed out due to confidentiality or not involved, it is difficult to understand what the person is going through, especially if its mental health. Remember, if the health professional is not always present and the ‘cared for’ is very unwell, then it is usually up to the unpaid carer be it friend, neighbour or relation.

Helping (knowing when to help and how)

Sometimes caring is a grey area, there is more to caring than just helping with physical or mental health support. It is also being around to help, this might be arranging meetings, advocating, helping the health professional, helping with money situations and so on.

Super Dad Juggling

Hope (Very common among carers)

Without this trait, you might even want to give up on caring for someone, there should be some form of hope that the ‘cared for’ will recover or at least live with the illness. Sometimes unfortunately there is no recovery, so all you can hope for is to be a witness to the person’s suffering, but deep down inside all unpaid carers hope for some change.

Love (most common thing among carers)

Another common trait with all unpaid carers. You care because you love the person or are emotionally tied to them. Love is a vague word, but without some form of love, it is difficult to care for someone let alone care for anything. Sometimes people overlook the love between carer and ‘cared for’, but it is there. Even if the carer had to walk away from their role, this still could be done out of love and when things really go wrong, then love hurts.

love_is_on_the_air_311635

Loyalty

Very difficult for carers to do, but being loyal to the ‘cared for’ can be an important trait, but what happens when the ‘cared for’ refuses help? When does the question of being loyal become a risk? This is when carers need to break confidentiality and raise the issue if the ‘cared for’ is at severe risk. E.g. reporting to the doctor, social worker or another professional.

Open and loving friends

Not really a carer trait, but something a carer would find helpful. Unfortunately, friends tend to go off packing when having to deal with a carer fighting something depressing. It does not help that carers due to their role will lack a social life, so it is harder to make new friends, but if you are lucky to have friends around who are open and understanding, it can help you in your carer journey.

download

Openness.

A risky trait, but expect to use it sometimes. As a carer you will have to be honest about a situation, you might expect to be put between a wall and a hard place. Basically when the ‘cared for’ is refusing help, you will have to raise the call for help, even against the ‘cared for’ wishes. A carer will have to be truthful and open about what is going wrong and expect your relationship with the ‘cared for’ to decline, but think to yourself, what is the risk? You might be thankful one day that you were open and honest about something. Expect the relationship to be slow to build back up again, if ever.

Phone call to check on how someone is

As a carer, it helps to use many tools in your carer’s journey, this is often used if your a distant carer (someone caring from a distance). Even if the ‘cared for’ is not in crisis, a carer might call to see how things are, you might never know what the ‘cared for’ might say. Take note, that with the advent of smart phones, it might help to add the person on Whatsapp, Skype, Facebook or other applications.

girl-talking-clipart-28

Quality time

Sometimes it is not always about care, care and caring. Spending quality time with the person can help make a difference. Think of it this way, what was the person like before they became unwell? Your relationship might have changed somewhat, but deep down they are still that same person. Sometimes spending quality time is what is needed and expect to do this as a carer to help connect with them.

Safety (common among carers)

Did I say common among carers? It probably is the number one rule book for unpaid carers. You might think providing a safe space for the ‘cared for’ is all that it is, but that is not the full story. Ever heard of the consequences when things go wrong in the health system? Carers will sometimes protect the ‘cared for’ especially when serious incidents will occur, think of wrong medications provided, or wrong decisions putting the ‘cared for’ at risk. Then it can be a tug of war when the carer has to push for the ‘cared for’ to get that support from the health and social care system. Overall the carer will have to be a shield for many things and expect to take some blows.

bear and bunny

Show up physically and mentally

Not the same as being there, expect to take on health and social care settings. Sometimes you as a carer might think some things are being done as a tick box, well you could be right. As a carer you will have to deal with the following professionals.

  • Clinical Psychologist
  • Psychiatrist
  • Nurses (different Bands)
  • Mental Health Counselor (families)
  • Social Worker
  • Care Coordinator
  • Ward Pharmacist
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Ward Manager
  • Admin for services
  • GP
  • Peer Specialists
  • Advocates
  • PALs Team
  • Home Treatment team staff

Yep! and this is only the HALF of it. So as a carer how would you prepare in an important meeting, if you are not sure what that person does or if the professional is being difficult? Well, I am sure at some point I will blog about engaging with professionals, but as a carer, do not expect the ‘cared for’ will do the legwork.

Smiling or trying to

As a carer you don’t have to do this, in fact it is better to seek support if you are feeling down rather than pretend and put on a false smile. It does obviously help to keep one’s spirits up, but be honest with your wellbeing and reach out for support for yourself as well.

face

Someone to really listen (listening skills)

This is very important for unpaid carers. If the ‘cared for’ has no one to talk to then expect to listen and avoid saying much or criticism. This is not something easy to do, because it depends on your relationship to the ‘cared for’. There has been times I have had to listen because the person I care for ended up ranting due to being unhappy with how she was treated. It was just because there was no one she would trust to rant to instead, not even the Samaritans. In the end, I just kept quiet and listened, then walked away hoping that her complaining helped in some way. As a carer, expect to listen, but also expect to learn some listening skills.

Time alone (Important!!)

It is so important that you as a carer get time alone for yourself, it might be for recharging your energies, thinking things through or just relaxing. This is probably because a carer has to go through a lot, especially all the things that can play on the carer’s mind. If a carer cannot get time alone, then they could themselves become the next patient.

me times

Trust (Very common)

In health professional we trust! As carers you will need to put your trust in professionals because you cannot do everything yourself. You will have to hope and trust that your doctor will involve you in the ‘cared for’ situation. If that does not work, then pray the doctor is skilled in being diplomatic enough to remind the patient why they need support from those close to them. Sometimes doctors tend to take the easy way out and let the patient’s word be law, but life is not always as simple as that, why? Think about the serious incidents when the carers or public were right about someone being at risk and the health professionals were wrong. It does happen and unfortunately it won’t be the last, but until then the carer will have to trust in others and trust the ‘cared for’ will seek support.

Words of encouragement (what words to use)

Expect as a carer to encourage the ‘cared for’ to not give up hope. The carer will need to be skilled in being supportive with words and not only just in listening skills. In fact a carer may end up becoming some form of counselling for the ‘cared for’, but only if support structures are lacking.

images

The conclusion.

Unfortunately these are just some of the carer’s traits in the carers journey. The carers world can be a difficult long struggle, but it can also be rewarding as you share the ‘cared for’ life successes, hopes, dreams and struggles. It need not be unbearable tough if you learn as much as you can on what it means to be a carer.

Good luck in your caring journey.

Fotolia_73087289_XS

Lambeth MH Carers Forum update October 2019

20140710_143445Welcome 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.

original

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.

IMG_20191024_185526

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.

VNEJbIqT_400x400

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.

Those being

  • Financial Impact
  • Constant worry and anxiety on families affected
  • Bereavement, especially when addiction leads to someone taking their life
  • The problems of trust and denial.
  • Isolation
  • 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.

IMG_20191024_194506

We were told how families and carers felt the following issues were a difficult path to navigate being,

Confidentiality
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.

https://adfam.org.uk/

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.

Lewisham Mental health Stakeholder event 2019

imageWelcome to another blog from South London unpaid carer Matthew Mckenzie. On this particular blog, I am covering how the Lewisham Mental Health Stakeholder event went. Health Commissioner stakeholder events usually run once a year, these events are usually borough wide and incorporate the community regarding health interests.

The theme of the Lewisham CCG Mental Health Stakeholder event was on “Me and my community”. The theme was to help bring the community together to discuss, plan and celebrate how Lewisham as a whole are working towards the mental health and well-being of its community.

The event took place over at Lewisham Town Hall – Civic Suite from 9:30 am till 4:30 pm. If I remember correctly, the event takes ages to plan and I believe such a stakeholder event was not run in 2018. So the event was great received, due to many mental health service updates and changes in the community.

EG0-11jX4AEFjhx

The stakeholder event had many stalls from providers, workshops, sessions and talks and presentations. Those involved in the event were of course Lewisham CCG, Lewisham council, South London and Maudsley NHS Trust (who provide MH services in the area), Lewisham Healthwatch, Bromley, Lewisham & Greenwich Mind, Compass (services for children), Lewisham Carers, Department for work & Pensions, Sydenham Gardens, GCDA, Lewisham college, Lewisham & Greenwich hospital trust and more.

To open the event, we had the welcome from Councilor James Rathbone, who is currently Lewisham’s Mental health Champion. Next was the Lewisham Mental Health Alliance with updates provided by Donna Hayward-Sussex – who is SLaM’s Service director and also Dr Charles Gosling who is the CCG’s senior clinical director.

EG2dUK-W4AEnrQz

Since the event was themed for Black history month, plus the London borough of Lewisham being a diverse community, we have an update on health inequalities in the borough from Dr Catherine Mbema who is the Director of Public Health in Lewisham.

EG1IHFXX4AEeSf3

Next up was CEO of Your Voice in Health and Social Care who have partnered with Carers Lewisham. Tim Spilsbury spoke about the difficulties unpaid carers face in the borough of Lewisham and how the charity is seeking to tackle those issues. To my surprise he spoke about the Triangle of Care, which is a policy aimed at buildng a working collaboration between the service user, professional and carer.

One thing critical about stakeholder events is giving the community a chance to ask questions or bring out statements, so I was glad to see a panel session consisting of those who spoke previously including the Joint commissioner of Adult Mental Health and Head of services for BLG-Mind. We certainly had some hard hitting challenging questions from the audience, although I felt some great work has been done by the services so it was a shame no one mentioned anything about that.

Next up after the 20 minute break and some networking were the Workshops. The aim of the workshops was to either educate the community on mental wellbeing, provide updates on services, a way to promote services and allow for stakeholders to connect with the community.

Prevention – This workshop looked at Social Prescribing (connecting people in their community)

5-ways to Wellbeing – This workshop taught by Lewisham Healthwatch looked into those who work with children and young people.

What is the Relationship between Mental Health and Internalised Racism? – This workshop taught by Hillna Fontaine, explored the complex issues of race and mental health.

Carers Workshop – This workshop co-produced by some of my members of the Lewisham Mental Health Carers forum and Carers Lewisham and myself.

Mental Health Equalities – What we know, our ideas and your suggestions – This workshop facilitated by SLaM equality team looked into what the Trust is doing to improve the experiences of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) service users, carers and staff.

Social Inclusion Recover Services; Paths to Recovery at Sydenham Garden – On this workshop, we could find out more about Sydenham Garden’s work – helping people in their recovery from mental and physical ill-health in Lewisham.

Mental Health in Schools: Challenges and solutions – This workshop aims to explore mental and emotional health challenges faced in school environment.

Healthy Walk – An excellent workshop, were attendees found out about the greenspace, gentle exercise and good company are great for physical and mental wellbeing and were actually walking outside.

The Lewisham Wellbeing Map: showing the great places for health in our borough – This workshop looked into a social prescribing map for link workers, navigators, and signposters.

Help in a mental health crisis – A workshop taught by the manager of the Ladywell Unit looking at where you can access help in a crisis and what you can expect from services Alternatives to going to A&E

DWP – Forest Hill and Bromley Jobcentre – The Partnership Team and the Disability Employment Advisers provided people with an insight to what is available to support those with Disability and Mental Health under Universal Credit and Employment Support Allowance

Wellbeing Education at SLaM Recovery College – Lastly we Trainers from SLaM Recovery College will discuss how the college operates, the benefits of attending for SLaM service users, carers/supporters and staff members.

IMG_20191014_153726

A quick mention on the carers workshop I co-produced with members of the Lewisham MH carers forum, we looked at ways to involve unpaid mental health carers in the community as carers like myself can be isolated, lacking support and driven to desperation when supporting someone with mental ill health.

I cannot thank Lewisham CCG enough and also Carers Lewisham and YVIHSC for helping and attending.

All in all, I thought the event went very well with special thanks to Karin Barthel who is the senior CCG comissioner for involving myself and carers lewisham to run the workshop in co-production.

I hope other CCGs will continue to run stakeholder events, or I am wondering how do they engage with their communities when it comes to mental health and wellbeing.

Thanks for stopping by.

Lewisham MH Carers forum September 2019 update

133Welcome to the September update of the Lewisham Mental Health Carers forum. I guess you might already know, that I facilitate two carer strategy forums in the borough of Lewisham.

 

 

However one of the forums focuses more on BAME queries/issues with families and unpaid carers. The one that runs at Lewisham Carers tends to focus on unpaid MH carers as a whole.

Mental Health Open Forum

Just as a reminder, the term ‘mental health carers’ refers to unpaid carers supporting those with mental health needs. I know not many people are happy with labels, but on some level it just helps with identification and at best helps to lessen isolation as people know they have something in common with each other.

For the September Lewisham Mental Health Carers forum, we were lucky to have Lewisham’s latest mental health Champion James Rathbone, who is also the Labour Councillor for Lee Green. As unpaid MH carers, we were also joined by South London & Maudsley’s Quality Improvement QI Facilitator. It is important NHS mental health trusts engage with families and carers at grassroots level.

We first heard from Cllr James Rathbone who has lived experience of mental health. He spoke about how he became a mental health champion and why he would like to make a difference in the community regarding mental health needs. Not every service user can speak out when addressing mental health issues and it helps when someone is high profile enough to raise mental health at important meetings.

IMG_20190924_133930

James specified he does not control how Lewisham health services run, but he will bring mental health to attention when the issue arises. It is important that a mental health champion gets out and engages with the community. It is important to hear what the community says about the issue of mental health needs. James raised the situation of mental health needs from the BAME community and felt there needs to be more priority due to a high level of BAME using mental health services.

James was critical with the term ‘parity of esteem’, because he felt the term itself does nothing to address the real issues. He felt the main issue was funding and the new term should be ‘parity of funding’. He felt what are services bringing to the table? It is easy to talk, but funding matters in the end, plus how the funding is used.

James talked about the big launch of the Lewisham suicide prevention strategy held on the 11th of September 2019. I am not fully aware of the suicide stats in Lewisham or other London boroughs, so it would be interesting to chase that up. Especially since I am a carer member of SLaM’s suicide prevention group.

The next and last point raise by Lewisham’s Mental Health Champion was on how Families and carers can be involved in shaping Lewisham’s mental health services. I asked this query, because families and carers should feel part of the system, they should have their views and experiences taken into account and feel empowered they have the chance to be involved.

James spoke of how carers can become members of their NHS trust and have a greater say on what is going on. James spoke that we should pay attention to what SLaM governors are doing and try query what they are involved in. James mentioned that Lewisham CCG have their public reference group, which allows for involvement and it helps to understand the important health policies affecting the community.

We were glad James mentioned the important Lewisham stakeholder event on the 14th of October, since members of the MH Carers forum will be holding a workshop there about carers.  The link has been added below.

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/lewisham-mental-health-stakeholder-event-me-and-my-community-tickets-72248203321

On the 16th of October will be Lewisham Child & Adolescent event, although not sure where it will be.

Some questions from the forum asked at James were on the merger of the six CCGs, the use of the Joint Health and Safety Committee and James returning for the Lewisham BAME forum.

Next up was Aaron Brewer who is SLaM’s quality improvement facilitor. Many NHS trusts around the country have quality improvement projects to work out how to improve services for patient and carer (yes, thats right! carers also use services). They want to ensure that the people that access our services experience the same standards of care no matter which borough they live in or which service they com are under.

355Z1977_Maudsley

Aaron spoke about SLaM’s Inpatient Care Process Model. The model is broken down in to six phases of an admission. Lewisham are currently implementing three phases. The decision made to admit and first 24 hours, First 24 to 72 hours in
hospital and Final discharge preparation and discharge.

The model is broken down in the following sections.

– Decision made to admit and first 24 hours
– First 24 to 72 hours in hospital
– Getting better
– Getting ready to leave
– Final discharge preparation and discharge
– Staying well

Aaron then spoke about Lewisham’s Hospital patient system ‘I Care’ and how data can be used to focus on quality issues and quality behaviour. The group were shown some graphs and quality data to help educate members on how hospital data can help make decisions. We were shown nothing confidential, but numbers and figures. It was pointed out that the graphs look very complex, but I always stress carers MUST get used to poking their noses on data and quality. We need to understand how NHS systems work and how they make decisions on services.

IMG_20190924_134002

The following graphs were shown on

Hospital Length of Stay
Discharges by directorate
Readmissions within 30 days
Admissions and Transfers into External Overspill

The next discussion was on how the Hospital’s patient system can help in improving care and outcomes. These will follow on from the Red2Green tool. The Red2Green is a tool to aid daily multi disciplinary team decision making to ensure that every day spent in hospital is meaningful and contributing to a person’s recovery. Red2Green was developed in an acute general hospital but has since been adapted for mental health settings, multiple NHS trusts are now using it and having success in reducing unnecessary delays, length of stay and bed occupancy.

The Ladywell unit based at Lewisham hospital has several mental health wards. We were shown how one of the wards operates in regards to the Red2Green tool. The ward chosen was the ‘Powell Ward’, where we were explained the following

180 Green Days and 4 Red Days for 18 patients in August.
No Delayed Discharges.
Targetted Theme: Awaiting Social Services

The last part of the discussion was on Standard Operating Procedures (SOP). The aim is to agree Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) to unblock common barriers to discharges between community and inpatient services. The more I looked at who was involved at the SOP, the more my head began to spin because I felt they need to engage with the forum somehow or the risk is the community would not always know what is going on, however we did mention we have invited Lewisham’s head of social care to attend.

This concludes the update for the September Lewisham MH Carers forum. As a note due to resources, I cannot always update on the 4 forums, but will try every so often.

The next Lewisham MH Carers forum is on the 29th of October

Service User Advocacy Exhibition

Thanks for stopping by at another carer blog post. I thought to quickly drum up a page on my latest visit to the Bethlem’s Museum of the mind. I was excited to be part of their new exhibition “Impatient! Stories of Service User Advocacy”.

bethlem-entrance

The exhibition which is over at the Bethlem Museum just inside the Bethlem Royal Hospital, celebrates the history of Service User advocacy. There is history on how the groups and organisations projected their causes and how they relate to psychiatry. I felt that sometimes when it comes to NHS exhibitions they tend to promote much of what has taken place in the hospitals, but showing what the community or inpatients have done, can give more of a holistic picture.

Continue reading

Lambeth MH Carers Forum update August 2019

Welcome to the August update of the Lambeth Mental Health Carers forum. As a reminder the Mental Health carers forums are not primarily focused on discussing mental health benefits, but are aimed at carers supporting those with mental health needs. The forum usually has organisation who either provide mental health services, commission them or oversee the services e.g. Lambeth Council, South London & Maudsley, Lambeth CCG and Lambeth healthwatch besides others.

For the August forum we were fortunate to members and representatives from Maudsleys Older Adults and Dementia Advisory group. They presented to the forum what the group does over at South London & Maudsley and how they work with unpaid carers who are caring for those suffering Dementia, Alzheimers, Parkinson and so forth.

IMG_20190822_192101

Before I continue on with a brief update of the work of the older adults Clinical Academic Group, we also had on the August agenda the following.

Continue reading