My name is Terry Nelson, and I am 40 years old. I’ve suffered from Multiple Complex Needs (MCN) for over two decades, which means I have suffered from a combination of the following: Substance Misuse, Offending, Homelessness or Mental Ill- Health. Mainly, two or more of these at any one time in those two decades. I am now in recovery from these issues, and have been for just over a year.
I am Vice Chair of the Newcastle and Gateshead Experts By Experience (EBE) programme at Fulfilling Lives, as well as being the programme’s representative at the National Expert Citizens Group (NECG), who have a voice at national level around system change.
I was asked to take part in filming a scenario for a multi-agency training programme around mental health called Respond. This programme is being designed to help the emergency services better understand and help those who suffer mental health episodes in the public domain.
When I was asked to help in the training I was only too happy to help in whatever way I was able to. This is a subject close to me and maybe will get the voices of those still suffering from mental health heard, so the public and emergency services have a bit more understanding around the issues that the person maybe facing which can still be dismissed in certain public arenas or viewed upon as attention-seeking.
There were around 20 professionals present at the first training day of the programme, ranging from EBEs, the emergency services, mental health nurses, psychiatrists, and social workers. During our introductions, the occupation of each person was not divulged, just their names; this provided me with a bit more anonymity around my background and eased some of my anxieties around being a valued member of the training programme.
When the group sat down we were given a booklet and asked to read over a scenario that would impact on all of our occupations in some way if it were to happen in real life. We first heard a phone call from a concerned member of the public after they had witnessed an upset male heading towards a prominent Tyneside landmark. We then had to don the hat of the police officer who had been given the job by control to find the member of the public in distress. What would our thoughts and feelings be around this, wearing this ‘hat’? When people got into role I noticed that not a lot of thought went in to how the situation may make them feel as the police officer, or even how the person in the scenario – the upset male – may be feeling.
I found that when dealing with the situation not a lot of people would take note or mention their feelings or emotions or those of the person suffering the episode.
Prior to this training day, I had been asked to help with a video for the training. I played the upset man who was threatening to jump from the landmark and potentially commit suicide. Once the person was found by the police in the scenario, we were shown this video. We had to then revise what we were going to do and how to approach the situation based on the content of the video.
What were we going to do to ensure this person’s safety, and what necessary agencies would be needed to be involved to deal with the person-in-question’s care?
I found this to be a really good learning experience as in that situation it is officer on the ground who is calling most of the shots and not the command officer in the command centre. By this stage, I thought it was starting to show what people’s roles were in real life, as an automatic response to a difficult situation like the scenario we were presented with is to take control of the situation you find yourself most comfortable in. I found that when dealing with the situation not a lot of people would take note or mention their feelings or emotions or those of the person suffering the episode.
We then went on to discuss whose responsibility it was to transfer the person to the place of a safety suite as they had suffered a cut to their head and were in restraints at the time of transfer. This fell down to the ambulance, which we had to wait for whilst the person in restraints, and in a heightened state of distress and anxiety, had to sit around and wait. The wait was not very good but again it shows just how stretched our emergency services are and what a great job they do under the working pressures they face on a daily basis.
After successfully removing the person from the harmful environment and to the safety suite, we took on the role of a number of agencies. First was the police and ambulance crew in handover to the mental health nurse. I found there to be an alarming flaw here, as during the handover there wasn’t a paper trail of the incident which could be logged on the client’s progression through the system. Neither were their mood and feelings as to what had just happened mentioned. There is a piece of work for this but it very rarely gets used.
it shows just how stretched our emergency services are and what a great job they do under the working pressures they face on a daily basis.
The person-in-question then got a mental health assessment and their needs were assessed so a plan of action could be made to get the best outcome for them.
The training and event was very hard work as you were in role for a lot of the day and it was very heavy on the mind from my perspective. Saying that it has probably been the best learning experience I have ever had in my life. Throughout the day there were 7 scenarios, the ones I have wrote about are the main points and took up most of the discussion.
As I’ve already said, I was struck by the lack of empathy and emotion from some of the professionals in the room throughout the day, however on speaking to some following the event I now realise they have to think in this pragmatic way to get the safest outcomes for the person suffering, the public, and the emergency services as a whole, as well as to look after their own mental health. I’d like to say to all the professionals I encountered on the day: you do a great job and this training will only further enhance the job you do. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK.
I really enjoyed the day. It gave me a great sense that my voice as an Expert was listened to as well as being valued in the process.
I think if the training is rolled out to all emergency services and we can keep Experts By Experience as an integral part of the training then it will make a real difference and could be national.
I really enjoyed the day. It gave me a great sense that my voice as an Expert was listened to as well as being valued in the process. Service user involvement along with co-production of training programmes for services and working in partnership with commissioners in the commissioning processes, in my eyes, is definitely the best way to go for future progression and enhancement of services in this time of austerity.
I would like to take this opportunity to thanks those involved with this training and also for giving me the chance to make my small screen debut.
Enjoy your weekend, stay safe #wedorecover.
Find Terry on Twitter @terrynrecovery and also through @necg.