"I feel that carers should be listened to and taken seriously"

About: Collective Voice: North West Standing Conference Manchester Mental Health And Social Care Trust / Adult mental health

(as a friend),

I am a carer and mother to my son who has Schizophrenia. Unfortunately he has all the symptoms. But also has the strength to mask his illness to a point.


I had got a referall through my doctor for my son to see an alternative therapist. I try to inform the psychiatrist, I found him rude unwilling to listen and he slammed the phoned down on me, He told me he was qualified and I know nothing. also my son was not that ill. My son was sectioned the next day and was in hospitall for 1 year.


The best thing about this situation is we have a very good CPN she is the BEST and always involves Both of us in the decision making and care plan for my son

I feel the carers should be listened to and taken seriously because they are the people who live with the situation and see it first hand on a day to day basis.

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Response from Patrick Cahoon, Head of Patient Experience, Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust We are preparing to make a change

Thank you for taking the time to post these comments on the patient opinion website, we are pleased to be able to respond to your feedback.

I am sorry your experience with the psychiatrist before your son’s admission was so difficult and that you found him rude and not prepared to listen to your concerns. The Care Trust would be more than happy to investigate this should you wish to contact either the Patient Advice and Liaison Service on 0161 918 4047 or the Complaints and Incident Coordinator on 0161 882 1355. We do welcome feedback about our services and wish to learn about the experience of those who use our services in order to make continual improvements.

I absolutely agree that carers play a vital role in patient care and it is important that they are involved and listened to as part of the care planning process as an equal partner. I am pleased that you are happy with the care your son’s CPN provides and thank you for your kind comments. As a result of your feedback the Care Trust will strengthen it’s training for staff about the role of carers which is part of the Care Programme Approach mandatory training programme. It may also be helpful for your son to develop an advanced directive so that any future crisis’ take account of those early warning signs that he is becoming unwell. This may help reduce the risk of him and you as his carer having to wait until his illness is full-blown before formal interventions are taken. With your son’s agreement the CPN can involve you and your family in the development of the advanced directive.

The Care Trust is also in the process of developing a strategy for carers, which will set out a series of pledges aimed at improving the way that we communicate and provide support to carers in the future. We will be developing this work in partnership with local carers. Please speak to your CPN if you would like to become involved in helping us to develop this further.

The Care Trust is fully committed to listening and responding to the views of local service users, carers and members of the public and is very grateful for the opportunity to post a reply to your comment.

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Response from Mick McKeown, Principal Lecturer in Mental Health, University of Central Lancashire

My name is Mick McKeown and I help to support the Colective Voice initiative. This is a network of service users and carers in the North West.

I am sorry to hear about the difficulties you report in your dealings with your son's psychiatrist. Equally, I am really glad to hear that your relationship with your son's community nurse is much better.

There is a wealth of research evidence that shows that better outcomes are achieved by all (service users, their relatives and staff)when services take care to involve and support families. When mental health services work well there are respectful, democratic relationships between all members of the care team and these extend to high quality therapeutic relationships with services users and families. Ideally, all are thoroughly involved in decision making, acknowledge each others roles and expertise, and are rewarded with better outcomes. A crucial factor in this are the personal relationships between those involved.

Even if the psychiatrist in this case thought that your interest in an alternative therapy was not likely to be helpful, I think there should have been more effort to talk this through with you, with courtesy. It is difficult from the outside to comment on the particulars of this incident, but I would urge you to take up the Trust's offer to investigate. Hopefully the outcome will be better services for you and others.

Colective Voice exists to support people to have a say in services and their development. At previous Collective Voice events there has been much interest in making improvements to the extent that people (families and service users) can have a say in how individuals' care is planned and delivered. This includes having one's views listened to respectfully and negotiated with in face to face meetings with care staff. It seems that your story shows two sides of this: on the one hand being dismissed brusquely by the doctor, on the other being listened to and included by the nurse. Clearly all staff could learn from the latter.

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