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.Embed from Getty Images
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
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.
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.Embed from Getty Images
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.
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.
This concludes the update for June.