Suggestions for new carers

We often get asked to offer suggestions for people who have just realised they are a carer. This may be after many years of a caring role.

We’d suggest –

  1. Get in touch with the Carers Centre.
  2. Meet other carers – attend carers groups. Many of us don’t like joining groups or talking about our problems with strangers, but carers are often isolated. Joining a carers group is a great way to meet people who are facing similar issues and to reassure yourself that you are not alone in this. Other carers have specific knowledge about local services. And sometimes it is actually helpful to talk to strangers rather than family.
  3. Ask the care coordinator for a carers assessment. The Carers Centre and Carers groups can also tell you about assessments, but a care coordinator will need to do the assessment.

Just heard about this (no comment about lack of communications) – would be good if mental health carers went along –

The Carers Centre and members of the St Helens Integrated Commissioning Team, are facilitating a number of drop in sessions on 1st June 2016 (10-11am, 2-3pm and 6-7pm) for Adult Carers, regarding Carers Assessments and to discuss the future approach regarding Carer Personal Budgets (formerly known as Carer Breaks). The sessions will be held at Fishwick House, 18 Cotham Street, St Helens, WA10 1SJ (opposite the town hall).
Please confirm if you wish to attend one of the sessions by contacting the Carers Centre on 01744 675615 or email info@sthelenscarers.org.uk

May 2016 Update

[I am updating our site – I’m sorry if some links might not work or might be out of date.]

Our next meetings for 2016 are

June 8th; July 13th; August 10th; September 14th

All carers are made welcome at our meetings.

We meet on the second Wednesday of each month, starting at 6.30pm through to about 8.30pm. We know that carers’ time is precious and understand if you can’t stay for the whole meeting.

The group meets at:

United Reformed Church, King St, St Helens, WA10 2JZ

To contact us

email: sthelensmhcarers@gmail.com

We had invited representatives from 5 Boroughs to update us on local mental health services.

Mike, Elaine and Julie described recent changes across the Trust, and emphasised that these should make no difference to our access to local services.

Julie described all the activities that are now on offer on the wards, including art therapies, cooking, mindfulness, relaxation, pet therapy, music, and reading. The gym is also available with staff support. Carers were pleased to hear about all this activity.

The Section 136 suite (which is used when people are brought for assessment by the police) is based at Whiston Hospital and there is no intention to move it back to St Helens.

The project where the mental health teams work alongside the police team to support people, has resulted in a significant reduction in use of Section 136 and has been extended for another year. Carers said they would like to hear more about this project at a future meeting.

The Trust Board have recently discussed the Mazars report. Mike described the very positive work the Trust has done to ensure reports of serious and untoward incidents. Although some carers had specific concerns which Elaine will follow up.

There is a Triangle of Care noticeboard on the wards and carers are involved in discharge planning and reviews. Staff now have more informal contact with families on the wards. There are plans to support community teams, with an additional carers meeting. Members of our group will support this new group.

There is a mental health awareness day on Tuesday 17th May at Harry Blackman House – 11-1pm. Members of our group hope to attend.


December meetings

Remember we don’t hold a meeting in December – though we’ll be going to the Stand up for Stigma comedy event at St Helens Central Library. It’s the last one for this year so it would be good to see you there.

Mince pies!  An informal meeting in the run up to Christmas.

Thank you to together for the hot pot and chilli evening last week.

Wishing everyone a peaceful and safe festive season.

5 Borough’s Acute Care Pathway consultation: Carers emphasised that they were concerned that it looked like all services will be provided from one central location. Transport across the Borough can be expensive and people have to get more than one bus to get to Peasley Cross.

Carers defined a ‘good’ service as one with prompt service within time limits. People should get help when they need it. Carers highlighted the weekly drop in with a psychiatrist which was provided at Vista Road. People had their 3 monthly appointments, but if they needed to see someone sooner they could attend the drop in without an appointment. Carers hope this best practice will be in the new model.

Pat’s Petition

This e-petition was started by a group of volunteers who are all disabled or have caring responsibilities.

Stop and review the cuts to benefits and services which are falling disproportionately on disabled people, their carers and families

The government were embarking on wholesale reform of the benefit system when the economic crisis struck. These welfare reforms had not been piloted and the plan was to monitor and assess the impact of the new untried approach as it was introduced in a buoyant economy.

Unfortunately since then the economy has gone in to crisis and the government has simultaneously embarked on a massive programme of cuts. This has created a perfect storm and left disabled people/those with ill health, and their carers reeling, confused and afraid.

We ask the government to stop this massive programme of piecemeal change until they can review the impact of all these changes, taken together, on disabled people and their carers. We ask the government to stand by its duty of care to disabled people and their carers. At the moment the covenant seems to be broken and they do not feel safe. Illness or disability could affect any one of us at any time, while many more of us are potential carers.

Please read and sign the petition at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/20968

More information online at: http://carerwatch.com/reform/

We said we would include a summary of the Forum meeting on benefits. The following was written for people who use services, but will be of interest to carers. We know that carers have separate concerns – especially about not knowing about letters.

Cllr Pearson, Andy Woods (DASH), Chris Molyneux (Voluntary advisor at Warrington Disability Partnership) and Jen Bartion (St Helens Benefit Contact Centre) spoke to the Forum members about the current difficulties around Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and the Work Capability Assessments (WCA).

ATOS is the organisation carrying out WCA which is supposed to make sure people are on the right level of ESA. (Lots of acronyms there – but we need to learn this language).

ESA is a big problem for many people at the moment, with a lot of people being found ‘fit for work’ when they don’t feel they are ready. In mental health, we don’t make our problems clear to the assessors.

The ATOS assessors can only judge on what they see, but we try to act as well as possible. We all do it – we might be having a good day, we’re proud of what we can achieve, we don’t want people to see us at our worst. But if that’s all that ATOS see, that’s what they make their decision on.

People who are experiencing mental health problems of any kind, including the side effects of medication, can feel confused and unable to concentrate. We don’t like to admit the worst of our symptoms because of stigma and discrimination. No one wants to admit a psychosis that makes them behave in unpredictable ways – but we shouldn’t deny it on these forms. We need to say it how it is.

The Benefit Contact Centre has details of all local organizations and are very helpful. They have private interview spaces. Their contact number is 01744 676666

REMEMBER: Forewarned is forearmed.

  • You are not on your own.

  • Everyone is being sent a questionnaire – get help to fill the form in, or to look at it, before you sign it.

  • Keep a diary – to remember how your week is going – so that you can remember just how your problems affect you for when you fill the forms in.

  • Don’t include your phone number if you don’t feel able to speak on the phone. And don’t feel you must answer phone calls. Let them know in writing if you prefer to communicate in writing.

  • You MUST attend the assessment.

  • If you disagree with their decision you can appeal – get support.

  • There are many local organizations who can help or signpost you to someone who can help. CAB can signpost, as well as the organizations here today. Helena Homes have a good service for their tenants.

  • There are sites on the internet including Benefits and Work who have very good leaflets. Some are free while others need a subscription. The Forum will look into subscribing. http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/

We had two speakers – Danny from the Millennium Centre and Mandy from Remploy.

Danny described how the Millennium Centre was set up as a charity to support voluntary organisations in St Helens. As well as the NHS walk in centre, they have free meeting rooms which are used by many community groups in the Borough. These include several mental health groups such as together’s women’s group and the No Secrets group.

They are developing an online resource which will be a gateway to health and social care groups in the Borough. Danny has invited the Forum and the Carers groups to be included. We discussed that it would be best to have some members of the Carers groups speak about the different carers groups in one short video. Several people volunteered to be filmed and we will organise this with Danny.

Mandy’s role has been a pilot scheme of Individual Placement and Support (IPS) which is to support people back into work. She has been getting referrals from teams including Early Intervention, Assertive Outreach and Vista Road. She offers job search support, help with writing a CV and support with interviews. She also provides one to one support to settle people into work. This is all provided flexibly as needed by each person.

Since April, she has had 41 referrals and helped 4 people into full time employment and one person in part time work, which is a fantastic result for this group of vulnerable people. She has also helped with placements and with voluntary work. She can help people to calculate how their money would be affected by going to work and show that they would be better off financially. She can help with tax credits and permitted work.

Developing relationships so that people can be supported to work can take a long time. A person’s journey of recovery might have some setbacks so that they find things take longer than they originally hoped. In Wigan, a similar project has worked with people for 3 years. Nationally, there is a lot of evidence that IPS works.

But the funding for this successful project ends in January, after less than a year. If the person you support would like this kind of help, please do contact Mandy.

We hope that they will find further funding for this valuable project.

The Forum held a meeting on Benefits where several people described the support available locally. We will include a summary of the Forum notes in a mailout in December.

If people have concerns around their benefits, they can speak to an Advisor at the Council’s Benefit Contact Centre on 01744 676666.