Staff Choice Awards 2018/19
Team of the Year Award

Suffolk Police Triage Team

Has been shortlisted for this award

Ipswich, Suffolk 

The nomination said...

The Police Triage Team is a small team, currently consisting of three people. In Suffolk they work in the control room and are able to deploy a mental health nurse in a police car.

The team works alongside the police on any 999 or 101 calls related to people with mental health problems. This means advising or sometimes leading the police in the decisions needed to ensure the public are supported in the safest and most person-centred way. This is the team’s mantra and they are very proud of the work they do. They usually find themselves sitting between NSFT and the police team negotiating a way forward, and they all skilfully and assertively ensure policies are followed and that, ultimately, they have safely advocated for the individual, finding good and safe outcomes.

They have supported the police teams by providing mental health awareness training.

The team is frequently involved in police welfare checks and Section 136 (an emergency power which allows you to be taken to a place of safety from a public place, if a police officer considers that you are suffering from mental illness and in need of immediate care), often sitting between the NSFT clinicians and the police teams, negotiating a safe way forward. It is often found that although clinicians feel they are following the only course available to them when concerned about service users by calling the police, this request is often not accepted by the police. The Police Triage Team will be involved and works with the clinicians and also the police to agree on safe ways to manage the situation and possibly deploying a police car when appropriate.

The team has pro-actively embarked on a roadshow to travel around the various Suffolk teams, providing them with a fun training session which not only reinforces the relevant joint and Trust policies but also sharing “live” scenarios to talk through.

The aim of the sessions is to enable staff to consider all thought processes about keeping the service users safe and to put them at the centre of their safety plans.

These sessions have been very well received by those teams they have visited and they have received feedback to say they have helped staff to think the situations through, to ensure safety plans are in place for their service users, preparing for situations themselves and with the service users rather than rely on police who do not always have the necessary power to proceed with the request.

The team own and maintain a strong mantra around finding safe options for service users while holding them in the centre of their care. These are the strong principles which they work by but do this consistently in a very positive way. They are all excellent communicators and negotiators and, despite their frequent encounters with very angry and frustrated clinical staff, they act very respectfully and manage each situation very calmly as they are able to carefully support staff to a position whereby they can think of an alternative safety plan for the service user.

Members of the team have a great sense of humour and work very tightly together, supporting each other whilst supporting others. They have built an excellent rapport with the police teams who hold them in high esteem. This has helped to educate the police about mental health and thereby spread a wider understanding of mental health issues.

This team sits in a unique position within mental health law, between the police and NSFT, and they hold this very well, tirelessly taking each encounter as a positive opportunity and learning point.

They are essentially lone working and do not have the live support of a mental health team but fit into the police team, representing mental health services. The team are working on the outskirts of NSFT but have examples of how they represent NSFT so well and strive to uphold the Trust values every day.