The Mental Health of Older Adults and Dementia Clinical Academic Group (MHOAD CAG) understand the importance of listening to and involving service users, relatives and carers. We are aware of the diverse and changing needs of those people who experience our service.
Key to our success and underpinning our ‘participation’ work are three key areas:
This is about us getting the basics right to provide the best care and treatment that people want and need. We take a collaborative approach, working with service users, their relatives and carers as stakeholders in the services we develop. We work with charities, statutory and voluntary sector agencies in Croydon. Lambeth, Lewisham, and Southwark to access support services
We aim to be inclusive, seeking out and using the views of our service users who have direct personal experience of receiving care, in the decisions that affect their lives. We plan and organise meetings and events that allow our service users, carers and families from our multi cultural communities to be actively involved, have access to and benefit from relationships that are inclusive, promote well-being and improve health outcomes.
For older people, our research suggests that it is ‘continuing to be me’ that matters most. Whether or not symptoms of mental illness continue to exist, recovery is about being able to control your life in a satisfactory way, managing your illness and using life experience to be included in meaningful roles, social networks and activities. Carers and families have a crucial role in supporting this process, particularly for people with dementia.
Throughout our service we make it a priority to give everyone a voice.
How you can get involved
The CAG values all volunteers who provide support. This can be anything from calling out the bingo numbers, playing card games and befriending to give some one to one time, to accompanying service users to go out into local communities. Time, no matter how long or short, that volunteers are able to give in any way, is recognised and appreciated.
On a more formal basis, Lewisham Community Mental Health Team recruit and train ‘recovery enablers’ who are able to commit to a minimum of four hours a week. They work along side qualified staff to assist service users on their recovery journey, whether that be ‘continuing to be me,’ managing their mental health difficulties or dementia. We hope this will extend to other boroughs in due course.
There are opportunities for volunteers to contribute to service developments such as developing extra activities on the wards, or in the Specialist Care Units.
Service user and carer advisory group (SUCAG)
This is an ‘umbrella’ group which enables service users, relatives and carers (past and present) to discuss views and feedback to inform the development and delivery of our Mental Health of Older Adults and Dementia Clinical Academic Group (MHOAD CAG) services.
Training is available to members and the group is tasked with specific areas to gather and report on the views and feedback from service users and carers, including looking at how care is provided and the recruitment and selection of staff.
Some examples of activities you can take part in:
- Croydon, Lewisham and Southwark advisory groups
Meetings are held quarterly for service users, relatives, carers and local agencies. Each group receives feedback on initiatives that impact on the borough with an opportunity to discuss views on what’s happening in the CAG
- Friends, relatives and carers group - specialist care units
Each of our specialist care units, Ann Moss, Greenvale and Inglemere provide an opportunity for residents, relatives and carers, to meet as a group. Anything from discussions about future plans for care, to fundraising and supporting events such as World Mental Health Day take place.
- Gardening groups, coffee mornings and afternoon tea
These activities allow us to meet and work in a much more informal way with our service users, carers, their families and friends. Our coffee mornings and afternoon tea groups are a great way for members to find support, be a part of the local community and enjoy an organised outing.
Alice wasn’t getting out of the house and didn’t have many visitors. She was asked by the community mental health team if she would like to come to one of our coffee mornings as she didn’t want to attend any of the day services in the borough.
Support staff were on hand to introduce her to others in the group. Feeling quite safe she began to come regularly. Although she was very quiet initially, after several weeks she started to come out of her shell. Now, Alice’s confidence has grown, she is one of our most active members attending several different groups and day services and is enjoying being part of the community again.
- Home treatment service reference group
Commissioners, local agencies as well as Healthwatch members (formerly LiNKs) meet and receive regular updates on the progress of the home treatment services in Lambeth and Southwark.
- On the wards
On each of our three wards, Aubrey Lewis 1, Chelsham House and Hayworth, staff are on hand to try to answer any questions that service users, relatives or carers may have on a daily basis. We hold weekly ward meetings for service users and regular meetings for relatives and carers throughout the year. We invite local agencies to attend to offer further advice and support.
The Power of Story project
We know that ‘continuing to be me’ is an important part of recovery for older adults.
Through The Power of Story project, we aim to capture the unique experiences, life stories and thoughts of our service users, relatives, carers and staff. By opening our book of stories, it will help us to better understand how mental health impacts our lives and help develop our services in the future.
We want to capture and share as many stories as possible. If you use, care for, or work in any of the Mental Health of Older Adults and Dementia care services in Croydon, Lambeth, Lewisham or Southwark and would like to tell your story, please contact Helena Taylor-Knox, Power of Story Project Officer by telephoning 020 3228 1638 mobile number 07896 293565or emailing Helena.firstname.lastname@example.org.
To hear our interview on Croydon Radio about the Power of Story Project click here to the last half hour of the show and follow us at Twitter: #powerfulstories
Video interviews of service users talking about their experiences:
If you would like more information about getting involved with any of our groups or projects or become a volunteer please contact:
Nuala Conlan Involvement and Participation Lead
email@example.com telephone 020 3228 1638 or mobile number 07854 331 876