e-connect March 2021

Welcome to e-connect, our monthly Trust e-bulletin with the intention of helping to keep you connected with us, update you on the service improvements we are making and share the work we are doing to improve access to our services across the county.

Publication date:
31 March 2021
Date range:
March 2021 - ongoing


It's officially spring - the days are getting longer and sun is shining.

As the weather gets better, so does the outlook in the battle against COVID-19. The 8 March signalled the first step in the government's four-step roadmap to remove the restrictions on people in England. From next week we will once again be allowed to mix with another household outdoors and hopefully this means that people will be able to be reunited with some of their loved ones over the Easter bank holiday weekend. As we move through the coming months, we hope to continue on this positive trajectory and as the government are hoping, be back to a sense of 'normality' by the end of June.

At KMPT we are developing a roadmap which will align with the governments, which includes our policies on face-to-face appointments and visiting. We will share more details of this on our website when it’s available. Of course, we will continue to review the government guidance and our roadmap will change if needed.

Of course amongst all this positivity we have faced the official anniversary of the UK going into our first lockdown on 23 March. The day was marked with a minute's silence at midday in memory of those who have died over the last year from coronavirus; and at 8pm the public were encouraged to stand on their doorsteps with phones, candles and torches to signify a "beacon of remembrance".

This has been an unprecedented and incredibly difficult year for people up and down the country. In Kent we have experienced some of the worst outcomes from the pandemic and it is important that we all take time to reflect - thinking of those who have caught COVID-19, been shielding for the best part of a year, been furloughed or lost their livelihood, or at worst, lost a loved one to this terrible virus.

We would like to take a moment to thank everyone who has supported the NHS over the last year. By staying home, you really have been protecting us and the sacrifcies you have made to keep others safe have been remarkable. To all healthcare workers, we salute you. It's been incredibly tough on staff, who have had to continue working in new, adapted and unique situations. We are so proud of all of our KMPT family for their unwavering support for one another and to the public for the kindness they have shown us.

We know the next few months will not be easy, but here's to hope and being able to be reuinted once again in the near future.

Stay safe everyone.

The COVID-19 vaccine update

The vaccination programme is currently being rolled out in England with the vaccine being offered in some hospitals and pharmacies, at local centres run by GPs and at larger vaccination centres. More centres are opening all the time. You can find out where the vaccine is being offered in Kent here.

The groups currently able to book their vaccine are:

  • people aged 50 and over
  • people at high risk from coronavirus (clinically extremely vulnerable)
  • people who live or work in care homes
  • health and social care workers
  • people with a condition that puts them at higher risk (clinically vulnerable)
  • people with a learning disability
  • people who are a main carer for someone at high risk from coronavirus

The order in which people will be offered the vaccine is based on advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

The NHS are sending out letters and calling those eligible for the vaccine to book their appointment, but if you qualify for one of the above priority groups, then you can book your vaccine via the NHS website

Working together to tackle violence and anti-social behaviour against NHS staff with Kent Police

In February this year we launched a joint initiative between KMPT and Kent Police to ensure that KMPT staff remain safe during the course of their role and, if subjected to unacceptable behaviours (violence and anti-social behaviours from service users), they have a clear way to report such crimes and be supported.

Putting the safety of our staff first has always been at the heart of what we do; however, we have recognised that there is a growing number of incidents of violence, aggression and, in particular, crimes of a racial nature, towards health professionals across the whole of the NHS. This can be from service users and or their loved ones, but in either case, should not go unreported.

As health professionals there is a duty to those we serve but our staff also have a right to feel safe and supported in the roles they carry out. No staff member should feel they ever have to tolerate physical violence, aggression racial/hate crimes during the course of their working role because it is 'part of the job' or they work in mental health and so it part of the ‘diagnosis.'

Over the past few months, we have worked alongside Kent Police to put in place a new initiative called Operation Cavell, which sets out a clear response to unacceptable behaviour of this nature and outlines the approach Kent Police has pledged to take when called to investigate.

KMPT’s Trust Security manager, Jo Hand, has been involved in setting up the PACT agreement in collaboration with Kent Police and said: “I have had the opportunity to speak to a number of teams and this is very much needed. Staff need to know that the types of racial abuse, aggression or even physical abuse they may encounter is not acceptable.

Many feel it happens all too often and so, they either accept it as an everyday occurrence or they become blind to it, which is simply not right.

"The PACT provides a clear way of tackling this and puts the victim at the heart of the process so a thorough investigation can be conducted and the best form of justice can be sought."

Putting the victim at the heart of every decision made and seeking the right response to the crime is essential and is the essence of the PACT which stands for:

  • Putting the victim first
  • Assume capacity
  • Consider all the options
  • Take positive action

Take positive actionThe PACT pledge will form the standard by which every police officer called to investigate will adhere to and has been vehemently supported by the Chief Constable of Kent Police, Alan Pughsley.

Jo said: "Both our own Chief Executive, Helen Greatorex and Chief Constable Alan Pughsley are working to get this right so we can monitor and improve the outcomes for everyone. Our staff need to play their role in coming forward now to report crimes of this nature and the PACT will give them the ability to do this with confidence. Plus there is now a clear message to anyone who uses our services that this type of behaviour is not acceptable.”

The safety of each and every person within our organisation is our priority, and by working together with Kent Police we will reduce incidents like this, help to protect our staff all times which will help create a safer environment for all NHS workers.

Social Work Week

The 8 to 12 March was Social Work Week, the first week of its kind in England.

Social work is an essential part of support, care and recovery for individuals living with mental ill health across all areas of society. Social workers must balance issues regarding safeguarding and public protection. They have a duty to ensure that individuals receive the appropriate, support, treatment and care for their mental health and are protected from harm.

It is an academic discipline and practice-based profession ans seeks to promote social change, development, cohesion and the empowerment of people and communities. Social care includes providing personal care, supporting individuals with tasks of daily living and supporting people to engage with their communities.

Lets meet some of our social workers at KMPT...

Meet Celia Dunn

Celia has been a practicing social worker for over 27 years specialising in mental health and during this time has had a varied, interesting and hugely rich career working in social services, community mental health teams, inpatient and community forensic mental health and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).

The role of Principal lead social worker is a new role for the Trust and offers an exciting opportunity to develop the social worker profile across the organisation, particularly at a time of transformation and improvement. Part of Celia’s role will see her look at social workforce planning to develop the social worker role, career pathway and required governance within the KMPT.

Meet John Beckley

John is a former personal trainer who personalised fitness programmes for his clients; motivating and guiding them to achieve their fitness goals. Now the 37-year-old from London works in our Sevenoaks community mental health service for older people and empowers patients with mental illness and their families and carers to lead fulfilling and independent lives.

John is the first dedicated mental health social worker to work alongside the multi-disciplinary team at Darent House. The team consists of consultant psychiatrists, community psychiatric nurses, occupational therapists, psychologists, support workers, Admiral Nurses and administrative staff. The team work together to provide care for people aged over 65 with a functional mental health difficulty or with dementia including people diagnosed with young onset dementia (aged under 65) in the community.

If you're interested in finding out more about social work at KMPT then visit our page.

Find out more about Social Work Week

Focusing on improving Learning Disability and Autism services across the system

Across Kent and Medway there has been a need for many years to transform the services and care for people living with learning disabilities and autism.

In January 2020 the Trust made the decision to focus on how they could improve its own services and the support they offer to people with a learning disability or autism and recruited a lead person to oversee the work. George Mutuska, Lead for learning disability and autism, is now in his second year with KMPT and is excited about the work now taking shape.

George said: “Since my appointment I have been involved in a whole host of conversations across the length and breadth of Kent and Medway, health and care services, but most importantly, with people who have either accessed support previously, or who are still accessing support as well as those who may need additional help from us in the future.

“What has really struck me is the broad spectrum of people’s experience of the care system currently based on their care. It really has been a very mixed picture, with some people finding the level of support they have received being just what they needed when they needed it, through to talk of large gaps in services, resulting in people having to fight for support that many of us just take for granted.

“KMPT’s vision is to provide ‘brilliant care through brilliant people.’ That, combined with the integrated care system’s vision ‘to help local people live their best life,’ has given us clear scope for the Trust to do even more and support itself and the system so we can work in union to address the health inequalities that some people face.”

The Trust has been working hard to set up an internal board called the Learning Disability and Autism (LDA) Programme Board which aims to empower people with lived experience of learning disability and autism to become leaders and help guide and shape the direction of services.

George continues: “We also are supporting KMPT to take a critical look at the services it is currently offering to people with a learning disability and autistic people and make sure we are continuing to be as effective as possible. KMPT is only one small part of a much larger system and to offer the best outcomes for people, the whole system needs to work together.

“One way this has already started is by the Kent and Medway integrated care system (ICS) prioritising the needs of people with a learning disability and autistic people. They have listened to the current challenges faced by people and their families and are looking to find ways to improve this. As a starting point they have agreed that alongside supporting people’s current needs the whole system needs to agree on medium and long-term plan together. They have also agreed to the development of Kent and Medway’s very first all-age autism and learning disability system strategy, which will mark the start of things to come - a real step forward.”

As we look to a brighter future, George is very clear that our central focus and main aspiration in anything we do is for people to be able to live their best life, whoever they are.

“We have identified an overarching need, set out our non-negotiables and are already working on how we implement this vision within the Trust and with wider system to support the changes people have told us about are needed. I am looking forward to the challenge and seeing what we can really achieve.”

Time and Place poetry project

Jess Shaw, one of our student volunteers, joined forces with Keith Oliver, one of KMPT’s dementia envoys, and Liz Jennings, an author and group facilitator, to create the poetry project 'Time and Place.' The concept was a series of five workshops for those living with dementia who were members of our Forget me nots and the SUNshiners dementia groups, where they could develop poetry centred on the history of Canterbury and their own memories.

The project was due to start on 13 May 2020, and run for the consecutive five weeks, with the participants taking part in two hours (on average) long sessions, where they would walk around Canterbury and draw on their own life experiences to create personal poetry. Twelve service users signed up for the project; and with the help of Clare Streeter, KMPT’s Empowerment and liaison coordinator, Jess manged to recruit more students from her university to volunteer at each of these sessions, so that each person taking part could have one-to-one attention as well as someone who could act as a scribe to help encourage and develop creativity.

And then COVID-19 struck.

The trio decided to go virtual by uploading short videos of poetry exercises to Liz's blog once a week, so participants could work through them at their own pace. As they couldn’t walk around Canterbury, Liz suggested they changed the focus from the history of Canterbury to examining the participants' own homes in a new light. Each week they focused on a different room in the house, encouraging those isolated at home to view their environment in a fun way.

As originally planned, the participants were supported by student volunteers who checked-in on them each week and met with them virtually to go through the exercises. There were fifteen primary participants, who came from our Forget me nots and SUNshiners groups, as well DEEP network members (including some people based in Scotland and Wales!). There were six volunteers, including Jess, on hand to support the workshops, and a huge variety of material has been submitted to the blog!

Time and Place in some ways benefited from being taken online instead of being in person as the team managed to write and publish a book of their poetry! The DEEP network (The UK network of dementia voices) kindly provided funding for the works that the participants created during the workshops to be developed into a book with the proceeds going to DEEP.

The book is beautifully illustrated by one of the participants, and includes the volunteers' and participants' experiences and thoughts on the project. When the book was published, Keith, Liz and Jess held a virtual book launch, so that everyone involved in the project could celebrate together and catch up.

Although the project has now ended, its legacy lives on! Not just in the form of the book but it’s inspired DEEP to consider setting up a monthly poetry group and Keith and Jess have been giving talks about the project to various organisations (with Liz contributing videos about the project).

It’s safe to say that the project has grown beyond everyone’s expectations and we’re so proud of Jess, Keith and Liz for creating not only a safe and creative space for those living with dementia but also for impacting the wider conversation about the types of groups and experiences that should be run to support people in the future.

You can read about the project in full here and purchase the group's book here.

The team at Nordoff Robbins bring music therapy to our wards

Since 20 January 2021, Sami Kashif, a Music therapist with the organisation Nordoff Robbins, has  been coming to Bluebell, Fern and Foxglove wards to run music sessions.

Nordoff Robbins runs a 2-year masters programme which trains already experienced musicians as music therapists, who can then work to deliver music therapy in schools, hospitals, care homes and other community settings.

At KMPT Sami is visiting our wards one day a week, with a trolley full of instruments and the intention to make music with people. His philosophy is to provide opportunties for people to make and enjoy music; so sometimes he sits in the communal areas and plays the guitar so that patients can approach him and pick up an instrument themselves, and other times he might approach someone directly and ask them if they would like to make some music. Each person will have a different musical need and what works with one person may not necessarily work with the other.

Sami says: "Music has a universal function for all of us, and we all have experience of listening to a certain song which seems to capture exactly how we feel in that moment and affords us some kind of therapeutic benefit.

"There is perhaps an even greater benefit that music therapy can provide when a person is struggling with their mental health. Music can provide a creative outlet and ownership of what they produce. We help patients to express themselves through music as well as providing a space to discuss a favourite song or genre of music.

"The process of music making itself has such a range of emotions. Patients may gain new confidence in their abilities, have new tools to express themselves, and use the sessions to listen and connect socially with others."

Find out more about Nordoff Robbins