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Birmingham and Solihull Mental health NHS Foundation Trust
Better Together
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Maureen Johnson

 Prior to my retirement, my career had always been in office management with experience in financial administration.  Having two very close family members diagnosed with vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease and another with a psychotic diagnosis, I naturally became their carer. With this lived experience as a carer, I became involved in opportunities within Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (BSMHFT) and my local community in Solihull.

Subsequently, I was successful in my application for a governor role.  This was in 2010 and since then I have devoted much of my time in representing carers regularly in all carer forums, interview panels, Dementia Council and Carers’ Voice meetings.

 I have highlighted many issues that have been brought to my attention. I represent carers to get assurance that carers’ views are considered in decision making.

“When you are a carer for a mental health patient, quite often this becomes a lifetime commitment and to be consulted, listened to and involved in the service user’s care has to be paramount to their recovery.”

Maureen Johnson - Carer Governor

In the last 18 months, I have taken great interest and have been involved in the Trust’s ‘Recovery for All’ programme.  Staff and service users are involved in this programme and I do believe, having witnessed the time and effort that has been put in by the staff involved, this will be a great success.

As a carer myself, I have been so rewarded by having many opportunities and invitations to express my concerns and be able to offer support, understanding and direction to those carers that really have been desperate at times, and need a friend to give them help and advice.  I know how it has been for me, particularly when you are a new carer.  I had to learn the hard way - there was not much help for carers in my early days.  BSMHFT has come a long way since then, but it has still some way to go and that is the challenge to the Trust in these times of financial restrictions. However, I do know that now carers do feature in much of the decision making.  This has been my passion over the years and I hope that I can continue to raise awareness of carers and service users and the need for them to be involved in future recruitment and strategic planning.

With my husband and family knowing how passionate I feel about mental health service users and carers, they have supported me in my role as Governor with understanding and compassion.  I do enjoy reading a variety of books and visiting countries abroad with my husband.