On the 16th of June Emily and I attended the South London and Maudsley (SLaM) Family & Carers’ Listening Day event in Prospero House in association with @etcvenues.
The atmosphere was lively – the turnout was really varied; a mixture of staff, carers, service users and family members attended with all different personal experiences and backgrounds.
The session started with a talk from Dr Matthew Patrick, the Chief Executive of the Trust, who shared his hopes and fears for the future. He mentioned the investment in Quality Improvement work as well as forthcoming budgeting restrictions that the Trust faces, opening with a hopeful message about what the Trust is planning to achieve.
Next we heard a few personal case studies from carers who had both good and bad experiences of the Trust, despite this, all taking the opportunity to applaud SLaM staff for their support and help.
A nurse from Bridge House (a 24-hour care ward for service users with psychosis) shared that a recent UK report concluded that 80% of emotional support is provided by unpaid carers. She also highlighted the ‘lack of support’ and ‘coping mechanisms’ provided for carers which we felt resonated with the audience.
Emily presented the MHL2.0 project and shared how we had been engaging with carers and service users throughout the development. There was a vast amount of interest within the room; her presentation was followed by a quick-fire question session that gave us some really useful ideas and feedback to consider for the next phase of the project. Questions included:
How will MHL2.0 become accessible to service users / carers if they do not have access to the current technology?
Will people receive support, training or assistance with using the website?
Will the website be integrated other current systems other than SLaMs clinical records?
How will you ensure MHL2.0 makes more efficient use of clinician / service user / carer time?
We also had a stall in the main conference room where we gave people the opportunity to explore the MHL2.0 demo. We generated a lot of interest and obtained a substantial amount of contact details from carers, service users and staff willing to be involved in the development of the project. As well as this we had some really good conversations, often discussing people’s insecurities and fears regarding the use of personal data online. We were able to confirm and reassure that security settings are managed at individual level and it is up to the service user to decide what information is shared with whom.
In the afternoon we took part in a session called ‘creating carer friendly communities’. Everyone was extremely passionate, most memorably for us, carers were demanding that ‘across all boroughs there should be consistency with services and benefits’ and insisted that they needed ‘more out of hours services’ and ‘longer appointments for carers’.
This session did seem to open up a lot of frustrations as well as opportunities to share good points. I felt that overall the event gave some level of satisfaction to people and made them feel that they are being listened to.
Many thanks to the venue and staff who were very accommodating and to the SLaM team for inviting us to take part (particularly the lovely warm welcome and delicious food throughout the day!).
If you are a service user or carer (past or present), and would like to discuss views and feedback to inform the development and delivery of Older Adult Mental Health services at SLaM – you may want to get in touch with SUCAG (Service Users Carers Advisory Group).
Finally, if you would like to be involved and kept updated with the future development of the project please get in touch and email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.