6th February 2020


Rod C, John & Margaret I, Dick & Hazel L, Brian L, Zib L, Tim & Francis W, Angela D, Geraldine M, Terry G.


Norma Y,  Sue C, Ann R, Dianne W,

Minutes of last meeting:

January minutes were agreed as a true record

Matters arising:

There were none.

Guest speaker :

Sam Slaytor HPFT – Inclusion & Engagement Team Manager

Sam began by giving a brief history of her career to date and recounted that she started at the trust in 2005 as a psychologist and was studying for her Masters in Counselling.

Sam described how she set up a group for young people with dementia (youngest was 38) which, at the time, was not well served. Additionally she was working to answer the question “What can we do for Carers” eg (respite, counselling etc).

With the 2010 Quality Act she left the Trust and moved to a London Trust. During some three years in Ealing she worked primarily on the inclusion of Community Groups.

On her return to the HPFT she became the Equalities Lead, developing the Equality Plan.  Sam was next appointed to the Inclusion and Engagement Team manager’s role which became available on a temporary basis when James Holland moved to NHS England some 9 months ago.

Sam then led the group on a wide ranging discussion through various interesting issues about carers and their support.

Since taking up the post Sam reported that there has been a restructuring of the Team/Department and, with a current 25% vacancy rate, the need to recruit was pressing.  (some of whom will likely be current volunteers).  The staff demographic for recruitment has changed and has now reduced to the range 18-40 years of age.

Some discussion followed about the coverage of the HPFT and the 4 counties that it covered.  These were identified as – all of Herts, and various geographical areas for specific services in Bucks, Essex, Norfolk . (NB a bid was made and then withdrawn for services in Luton & Dunstable in South Beds,

Sam referred to a recent Herts census which indicated that the three most common languages after English that need to be considered these were Urdu, Polish and Farsi. British Sign Language is also required.

With regard to staff turnover, it was worth noting that new psychology graduates tend to move on after just 2 years leaving an elevated vacancy rate (13%).  Additionally, the backdrop is vacancy rate across all MH services in East of England (excluding London) at 30%.

Care Schemes labelled as Greater Care Schemes and or  Integrated Care Providers were mentioned because they also help to remove inequalities as do coproduction groups usually set up for new projects.

With regard to both physical and Mental Health needs of carers – plans will often look great on paper but the reality is that targets are not being met for one reason or another.

Carer needs assessment and contingency planning was discussed and it was noted that targets are not being consistently met everywhere.  Also the question of what happens after the assessment was highlighted. The question was posed “Are there sufficient meaningful deliverables in this area”?  It was suggested that carers are not well looked after when their SU is discharged in that they are still carers closely involved with their SU. Who can they discuss their needs with once the SU is discharged?

Moving on to the Triangle of Care, it was agreed that it is a good model but again it is not working on the ground with lots of delivery issues and falling short of carers needs and support.

Out-County placements were briefly identified as another issue due to the effects on both SU and Carer when distances are just too great for any reasonable support.

Contingency plans are carried out by both the HPFT and the HCC and logged within their own systems.  Having two systems that can’t communicate makes things much more difficult than they could otherwise be. The triggers for implementing the plan are said to be nominally with the GP who will likely know first. Is this the best system and does it really work effectively?

It was noted that the GPs have an increasing work load.  Notably the need for long term contingency planning for those with Type 2 Diabetes is an example of the increase pressure.

The problems of getting to grips with the complexities of DLA allowances, PIP criteria, Universal credits was seen as another barrier to carers and service user needs.  Helping people back to work was briefly discussed and the IR35 scheme was also mentioned as a difficulty together with the ‘Cap’ of 35 hours.

Dick welcomed the selection of Kelly Dowling (ne Seaman) as Leah’s replacement.  It was noted that filling a vacancy can take months to sort out through the various steps in the system.

Sam introduced the wider involvement team and their training was discussed.  Sam stated that, while they do not have case-loads as those in the front line, there are many opportunities for training and continuous professional development (CPD) and only 2 team members are currently not going through training. 

Kevin introduced the New Leaf College and its contribution to Carer and service users learning.  It was agreed that new models of coproduction would help more carers to get involved.

Sam suggested that there is an offer for training in Quality Improvement skills and techniques that would be ideal for carers that would help upcoming projects in QI.  Coproduction was still very important to the Trust in achieving meaningful outcomes and she introduced the coproduction ladder but there was no time to discuss its detailed steps.

Dick thanked Sam and reminded the group that in the last 8 years of our existence he felt that it had become easier to get speakers to visit us and now he believes that the HPFT is not only listening to us but is now hearing what we have to say.  However, the next major step is that they take meaningful action.

Update on Leaflet and Poster production:

Francis distributed the latest version of the copy for the leaflet and poster but was still open to accepting updates and improvements.  Following a series of questions and answers, it was agreed that we should include the printing of an A5 flyer for those circumstances where posters and leaflet are not the best solution. Francis also distributed possible photos to include and repeated that should anyone not wish to have their photo they should let her know.  Francis to distribute the printer’s design and printing cost estimates (not changed since their first estimates last year).  Terry to forward these via email to the group.  Francis also indicated that she would be seeking some support from the local Lions for 2020. in whatever form is most likely to prove successful.

Upcoming speakers:

Dick reported that

  • he has no speaker as yet for the 5th March
  • he will attempt to respond to the suggestion of having a speaker on Universal Credits for the April meeting

Feed-back from member’s attending external meetings:

Dick briefly reported on the recent meeting in Hemel Hempstead organised by Carers in Herts where the CQC came along to listen to issues raised by carers about the local Wellbeing Services in some detail.  There were no representatives of the HPFT in attendance so it was easier for those present to query the award of “Outstanding” given to the HPFT.

Terry & Dick reported briefly about their attendance at the Carers Council and in particular the high level of speakers attending eg Ian Love Deputy Director Commercial Development talking about HPFT latest plans, Michael Thorpe Deputy Director Continuous Quality Improvement giving examples of improvement and suggesting that Carers input on projects would be valuable (training would be offered)

Any Other Business:

It was agreed that the 5th March meeting will be our AGM. The meeting to include a review of the successful and not so successful activities in 2019.  Tim will present a statement of our income, and expenditures and net worth as usual.

Early as it might seem to be, It was agreed that we would visit the Plough again for our 2020 Christmas dinner

Date of next meeting:

5th March 2020 . NB given that this will be our AGM, Dick has asked me to remind you that we will have available a buffet together with some alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.