Co-production – involving people with an equal say in the design, development and, increasingly, delivery of services – is at the heart of the Alliance’s way of working.
Context and key challenges
The people we support consistently tell us that they want to work with people who have similar experiences as them. This helps them to feel more comfortable in sharing their stories and being fully understood.
Similarly, when we design and develop services it is crucial that people who use these services and those that care for them are genuinely involved, with real power to help shape them.
What we offer
We have peers (people with lived experience of mental health issues) working to support people in each of our Living Well Centres. We also have peers who support people in our inpatient beds, helping them to be prepared for when they are ready to be discharged.
We have recently launched our pioneering CAPSA (Culturally Appropriate Peer Support and Advocacy) service. CAPSA employs peers from our local Black communities to ensure our services fully understand the experiences and needs of these communities. This helps those being supported feel that our services ‘get me’ and to build trust with the mental health system.
The South London and Maudsley’s Lambeth Service User and Carer Advisory Group (SUCAG) continues to be a vital way in which people with lived experience can get involved in shaping and delivering mental health services. People are paid for their time whilst working with like-minded people and making a real difference. We are actively looking for more people to get involved. If you’d like to find out more, email Alice Glover on Alice.Glover@slam.nhs.uk, or go to https://slam.nhs.uk/involvement-register.
We refer to people who look after their family, friends and neighbours – either full or part time – as carers. Carers are a vital part of the health and care system, giving up their time, usually with no financial support, to care for someone. We are increasingly realising how important it is to involve carers when we are supporting people with their mental health. Carers will usually spend much more time with the person then we do and will know them much better, seeing signs of when they are getting worse and knowing what works when they are distressed. We are working closely with the Carers’ Hub Lambeth (https://www.carershub.org.uk/) a Brixton based charity that works with carers aged 5 and upwards – to increase carers’ involvement in our services.
We run an online fortnightly support group for carers on a Tuesday evening. Led by Lee Roach, Lambeth’s Head Occupational Therapist, alongside a community pharmacist, the group provides support to carers, help to navigate the local health and care system, problem solving, signposting and advice. We would welcome more carers to join this group, if you are interested please email Lee on: Lee.Roach@slam.nhs.uk
Solidarity in a Crisis
This is an out of hours Crisis Line (delivered by Certitude) that provides peer support over the phone for adults experiencing a mental health crisis. It is open Monday to Friday from 6pm to midnight and Saturday and Sunday from midday to midnight – Freephone 0300 123 1922
Our next steps
We are increasing service user and carer involvement in our decision-making and aim to expand our CAPSA service, further increasing the number of peers working in our Alliance services.
We are asking those we support and their carers how we can ensure that they have the opportunity to get involved or give their views in the way that works best for them.
Case Study: Naomi, Healthwatch
I’m currently studying psychology at the University of Birmingham, and hope to be a clinical psychologist one day. My own experience with mental health is that I’ve had some counselling through the NHS and continued this myself privately. At that time, I had a lot of social anxiety and low mood. I can really see the difference counselling has made.
Healthwatch was my first work experience placement in 2018. I’ve been a volunteer for them since then as I wanted to stay involved. I’ve also been part of their Youth Reference Group, which is about making sure children and young people have a say in how health and social care services are delivered.
I took part in a Healthwatch project called ‘Enter and View’. I visited King’s College Hospital, observed, and looked around to see what was available. I also interviewed young people and asked for their views. This firmed a plan around what we could do to make the hospital more welcoming, particularly to young people and with their mental health.
They wanted more entertainment geared towards them. The hospital agreed to being in free internet so people could access youth magazines and fiction books on their mobile phones. We also got more posters put up aimed at young people about mental health. Because people could be struggling and not wanting to talk to someone, using these posters to combat stigma and encourage people to talk was really good.
I definitely recommend people get involved with Healthwatch. Its helped me a lot and they also really benefit from working with young people.
Naomi, 19 years old
Can you help us?
We are introducing a short survey that all those who use our services will be invited to complete (online or on paper). It will take less than 3 minutes and will tell us how well we are doing and what we need to improve. Later this year we will report more detailed information on our service performance and impact and ask you for your views and ideas. Click here if you would like to complete this survey or scan this QR code:
Scan to take a short (less than 3 minutes) service user survey.