Tasty dishes of courgette and leek soup and banana and cinnamon pudding were enjoyed by service users with Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust (C&I) at a special lunch cooked with the help of celebrity chef Oliver Rowe to raise awareness of type 2 diabetes.
Around 12 C&I service users who have psychosis and get regular support and care at the Southwood Smith Centre, Islington, tucked in to the “diabetes-friendly” menu of foods prepared by the TV chef, restaurateur and food writer, alongside volunteers from the charity FoodCycle.
They and about 40 other service users with mental health charity Mind, enjoyed dishes, also including items such as lentils, houmous and sweet potato, which were selected as they have less impact on raising blood sugar levels.
Stalls on the centre’s forecourt provided activities run by occupational therapists showing healthy portion sizes of carbohydrates, enabling service users to understand more about the high sugar content in processed foods and soft drinks.
There were also exercise tips and the opportunity for service users to have their blood sugar reading taken by nurses from C&I’s South Islington Recovery Team.
After the lunch, Susan Cummins, Community Matron for Physical Health, and Fiona Felgate, Occupational Therapist with the Recovery Team, explained what diabetes is, its prevalence amongst those with a mental health condition, and the need for regular checks on blood sugar levels.
The Diabetes Awareness Day was organised to mirror the recent national week of events by Diabetes UK to further raise understanding of the condition. It also reflects a key C&I focus on tackling diabetes as part of an ongoing five-year programme to closely combine physical and mental healthcare – officially known as the “Integrated Practice Unit for Psychosis” (IPU).
C&I’s IPU programme is aimed at reducing the premature age at which those with serious mental conditions die. A key contributor is type 2 diabetes, which is two to three times more prevalent in this group than the general population.
The north central London area overall is also one of 13 new regions in England to be included in a special programme to prevent type 2 diabetes run collaboratively by NHS England, Public Health England and Diabetes UK.
Fiona, who organised the event held in partnership with Mind, said: “With the prevalence of type 2 diabetes higher in people with psychosis than the general population, it is crucial that we support service users to gain a better understanding of how to prevent the risk of developing diabetes. Through making some “swaps” in diet from high sugar to low sugar foods a healthier diet can be easier to maintain.”
Amongst service users enjoying the lunch and picking up tips for a healthier diet was Stephen Craig, who attended with his partner Chloe Manzi.
Stephen said: “I found it very useful. I definitely want to work on this as I’m at high risk of developing diabetes and know that I need to drink less Coke and eat less white bread. I’ve got an app on my phone that was mentioned in the talks at the event to scan shop items and see how much sugar is in foods.”
Chloe said: “I am a poor eater usually, but in coming here I have been able to enjoy some healthy food and will now think about changing the food that I eat.”
Another service user explained that she already took physical health issues seriously.
She said: “I enjoy healthy eating. I look for food that is low in fat and that has no sugar and I also take regular exercise. I swim once a week and also do aerobics.”
Oliver Rowe, who featured in BBC 2’s “The Urban Chef” and is passionate about local sourcing of food, regularly cooks at Southwood Smith Centre, supporting an initiative run by FoodCycle.
This offers free nourishing meals to people using produce donated by local retailers and local outlets of large supermarket chains.
He said: “When people are in a vulnerable situation, whether socially or because of mental health issues, small changes can sometimes have a big effect. Engaging with our diet can really help to bring about a better sense of wellbeing and self-preservation."
Notes to Editors
Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust – Strategic Priorities
Our three strategic priorities are:
Early and effective intervention
Helping people to live well
Research and innovation
About Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust
We provide mental health and substance misuse services to people living in Camden and Islington, and a substance misuse and psychological therapies service to residents in Kingston.
We have two inpatient facilities, at Highgate Mental Health Centre and St Pancras Hospital, as well as community based services throughout the London boroughs of Camden and Islington. Our Trust is also a member of University College London Partners (UCLP), one of the world’s leading academic health science partnerships.
We provide services for adults of working age, adults with learning difficulties, and older people in the London area either in a community or inpatient setting.
Our income for 2016/17 was £138million and we have approximately 2,000 staff. Our staff work in multi-disciplinary teams providing a holistic approach to recovery. This means that we often work with partner agencies and the voluntary sector. Camden and Islington Mental Health and Social Care Trust was established in 2002. In March 2008 we became the first Care Trust to achieve Foundation Trust status and are licensed by NHS Improvement.