Families & carers connect with psychiatrists to encourage recovery
A successful programme of interactive panel discussions and presentations at a one day conference co devised and hosted by the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland (CPsychI) and SHINE provided family members/carers and service users in the West of Ireland the opportunity to discuss their needs and issues with various key stakeholders.
Attendance at the second conference of CPsychI and Shine held recently (Friday 14th October) in Galway included an equal mix of family members/carers, psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses and social workers where the focus throughout the programme was on the role of family/carers in promoting recovery for the person with mental illness and the wider family, supporters, and caregivers.
Shine CEO John Saunders highlighted the value of partnership in promoting recovery:
“I was very encouraged by the sense of partnership expressed by Psychiatrists, other mental health professionals, family members and service users. The deliberations of the day showed that all groups share common concerns and that progress can be made through constructive discussion. Shine looks forward to an ongoing collaboration with the College of Psychiatrists in pursuit of improved mental health services”
Positive feedback was given from various attendees:
“It was very practical, and reflected the issues we [psychiatrists] face on a day to day basis.”
“Hearing Freda Holly’s acknowledgement of the social work role of the family and its value, which is rarely acknowledged, was great. It was great to hear we are valued.”
“It was great to see that the professionals will give a hearing to family members in relation to the patient.”
“Very positive that the conference was held jointly with psychiatrists”
“The real life accounts from family members were very powerful.”
The conference was split into two themes: Family Involvement and Confidentiality; and Family Involvement in Care – The way forward.
Panel discussions with various key stakeholders such as Liam Hennessy (Head of Service User, Family Member and Carer Engagement in the Mental Health Division), Dr Ruth Loane (CPsychI President and Consultant Old Age Psychiatrist), and Susan McFeely (National Coordinator of Shine) provided all with a real and up to date status of what is helpful, necessary and has worked, what happens when there is no involvement or support, and what needs to be achieved.
Presentations were also given by other medical professionals and those with lived experience of mental illness from a service user (Liz Brosnan) and family member (Freda Holly) perspective.
Confidentiality; the Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act 2015; and the role of the GP, and their impact on those caring for persons with a mental illness were other topics covered. Unique perspectives were also highlighted by members of CPsychI REFOCUS (Recovery Experience Forum of Carers and Users of the Services) Committee who stressed the importance of listening to family members/carers and their role in recovery.
Dr John Hillery, Director of Communication and Public Education at CPsychI explained
“Following valuable feedback from last year’s conference in Dublin, the College and Shine decided to host the conference in Galway this year to increase engagement with those in the West. Many praised the diversity of attendees and experiences shared with an equal number of mental health professional, carers, and service users. The conference made for many thought provoking discussions with open discussion from the floor encouraged”.
The day ended with a powerful address from John Purcell on his experience as a family member and carer, and how taking part in Shine’s FRIENDS project helped him to find hope for the future.