Welcome to my latest update for joint Southwark & Lambeth carers forum. I have been unwell with COVID for the past week, but due to my previous vaccinations the affect was not so horrible. If I did not have the previous vaccinations I am sure the COVID would have been 10 times worse. If you are caring for someone vulnerable please get the vaccination as you cannot always avoid catching the virus. It is good to have some form of protection rather than nothing.
Speakers for my February forum were
- Southwark Heathwatch
- Lambeth Healthwatch
- Kieran Quirke the Mental Health lead from Kings College NHS FT
Just a quick reminder, the aim of my carer forums is to allow unpaid carers who care for someone suffering mental ill health, get a chance to network and hear updates on what the services are doing for carers and for those using health & social care services. My carer groups cover half of London.
- Megan Isherwood and Gosia Kaczmarczyk from Southwark healthwatch presents
There have been a few changes over at Southwark Healthwatch and it had been a while since they attended the group and engage with unpaid carers. Megan who is the research and projects officer at Southwark Healtwatch gave us a quick introduction on some of their projects. Megan also let my group know how they could get involved with Southwark Healthwatch and their upcoming events.
Megan mentioned that there is a Healthwatch in every area of England, and they were created from the Health and Social Care Act of 2012. Healthwatch are a statutory organisation. Healthwatch are funded by the local authority that being Southwark council, but healthwatch Southwark are very much independent. Healthwatch Southwark hosted by community Southwark and has helped them to work closely with the voluntary community groups in the area of Southwark.
Basically Healthwatch Southwark want everyone who lives in the London Borough of Southwark to be able to access and receive the best possible health and care services appropriate for our diverse community. As a reminder Healthwatch Southwark are the independent champion for the patient voice.
So Healthwatch are here to represent the local community and make sure that services work for those in the borough of Southwark. So this means that they listen to local people about their health and social care needs and experiences. Healthwatch Southwark helps patients and service users voice their views and concerns in order to make services better and more suited to their needs. Healthwatch also have a signposting function. So they can provide advice and information helping people to navigate the very complicated health and social care system. Healthwatch knows that navigating the system can be a real maze, but as an extra form of empowerment they also promote patient involvement in shaping services.
This can mean helping people to get involved in health and social care decision making bodies and processes. Megan continued to talk about how their community engagement can lead to different ways for local people to have their say. Regarding generic experiences this can be both online and in person. Healthwatch also have the power to enter and view services, like GPS, hospitals care homes. Healthwatch can go in and observe them and find out the views of patients and staff.
Healthwatch Southwark connects with local voluntary and community organisations and work collaboratively with them. Healthwatch conducts research, and works on reports and give recommendations to health commissioners (Southwark CCG). Healthwatch also influences boards and committees particular the Southwark Council health and wellbeing board.
Healthwatch feeds into monitoring systems and consultations and they share these concerns with commissioners to make sure your voice is heard and to aid directly into influence change. Megan wanted to finish up her talk focusing on mental health, so she talked about their recent mental health services project. This was a recent report on the mental health services which is published their website site. It came about due to a workshop held in January, where lots of people attended, and there were representatives from South London & Maudsley hospital where they presented their formal response to the report. The report basically identified the key themes and areas that about unmet needs around SLaMs adult mental health community services provision where Healthwatch made recommendations to them on how to address these unmet needs.
The report involves carrying out a survey to find out people’s experiences of the services. Healthwatch focused on issues of access, waiting, suitability, impact and staff. So in the end Healthwatch received 81 responses, which was from service users and carers. The key findings were that the Southwark improving access to psychological therapies, which is IAPTs on if you’re talking therapies, and also the community mental health teams, which were the most used services, followed by crisis services, integrated psychological therapy teams and assessment and liaison services.
Since my carer forum tends to focus on wellbeing, the next section was from Gosia Kaczmarczyk who is Southwark Healthwatch Community Engagement Officer. Gosia did a wellbeing meditation session online for the group to experience. Gosia then went on to talk about the volunteering opportunities at Southwark Healthwatch.
Since Southwark Healthwatch do the enter and view programme. They are going to be working on induction training to train these representatives in the coming months. They will also be recruiting for community engagement.
Healthwatch will also recruit for committee health ambassadors where those interested can even become an advisory board member. Such opportunities can have an impact on how healthwatch do their work and what they are focusing on. It is like a really important part. Volunteers can also help guide healthwatch on their upcoming events.
Anna D’Agostino from Lambeth Healthwatch presents
After the talk and engagement from Healthwatch Southwark, it was now Healthwatch Lambeth’s turn to talk about what they do. Anna who is the Engagement Lead for Mental Health gave the carers an overview of what Healthwatch Lambeth does. Anna also reminder my forum that Healthwatch was established in 2013 as a charity, where each part in England has a HealthWatch. In fact there are around 150 Healthwatch organisation throughout England. Anna mentioned it was established to give the people a stronger voice on how health and social care services are really set up and in some cases challenge the way that they are actually run those services. This is why healthwatch really want to hear people voices.
Healthwatch contacts people, liaise with them and gather their feedback, and then they contact the providers to see how services can be improved.
As with what Healthwatch Southwark does. Healthwatch Lambeth does Enter and View – Where they visit commissioned services, interview service users and staff suggest how the service can improve.
Healthwatch Lambeth also do Information & Signposting – they help people find the information & services they need and signpost them to organisations that can provide support.
Anna wanted to talk about a particular project Healthwatch Lambeth are currently running this is in regards to healthcare during the Pandemic.
Healthwatch Lambeth want to talk to people with mental health needs and their carers
How easy or difficult was it for you to access healthcare?
Did you get the support you needed?
Where you offered an annual health check?
Were you offered Covid-19 testing and/or the vaccine?
Kieran Quirke From Kings NHS trust presents
Kieran gave us a brief update from King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. Kieran admitted that since the last time he came to the group, a lot of the projects have been put on hold because the Omicron virius (a varient of the corona virus). It is only in the last couple of weeks, things are starting to get back towards a state normality however one of the first things to mention is that visiting the hospital is now back to to visitors or patients across the majority of sites, which is an improvement.
Kieran mentioned that Kings NHS trust can hopefully start moving forward on some of the John’s campaign stuff, which I stalled during the pandemic where the dementia and delirium team are leading. Kieran mentioned two important things to mention updates where the first was the launch of their butterfly Cafe dementia group, which is due to start on the 8th of March in the afternoon, and they have got a venue for that where it is going to be held at the institute of psychiatry, They have got a room within the lounge area. Where that will be running monthly.
It’s free to attend. There’s no ability to provide transport, unfortunately, but there is wheelchair access and there will be some refreshments.
It is also going to be supported by KINGs NHS volunteers alongside some of their community partners. All they need to do is email in advance to say they’re coming where there is a bit of a chance to plan for numbers that is needed to provide for.
Another update is joint working with Mosaic clubhouse, where they come in and engage with some of their medical patients. This project was unfortunately delayed because of the pandemic. So it has taken a little while to get it back up and running. They are looking to launch in March, although it is a pilot and will initially work with four wards being medical wards. If there is a patient with a mental health concern, that is within the psych liaison threshold, The ward can then refer to Mosaic Clubhouse and Mosaic will send to a member of staff and a service user who will come and visit and spend some time with the patient and talk them about signposting Community Services, and then potentially revisit if need be, it’ll be on the medical wards, so there’ll be probably quite short, brief interventions. But that’s another really positive development.
The last update is that they plan to develop a new carers policy. This is one of those projects, which has been suspended and suspended, but hopefully now they will start to get the wheels rolling underneath it. The final update is for Matthew to get involved in KINGS NHS carers day celebration.
This is my update for my Joint Southwark & Lambeth mental health carers forum for February