Guest blog: Mental health nurse in the Mental Health Street Triage team

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Sarah Roche

Sarah Roche has been nursing in mental health for around 16 years and proudly works as one of two nurses on the national award-nominated Mental Health Street Triage team in Bedfordshire, on behalf of the East London Foundation Trust (ELFT).

I joined this team because it is a fantastic, brand new one that mental health services and emergency services have needed for a very long time. And to have been given the opportunity to start it was one I couldn’t refuse.

For people to access secondary mental health services on a blue light response is amazing. This is something that has been fed back to us through our peers, colleagues, service users, and managers.

The emphasis in our team is that we are a triage service – such a high volume of calls to the police and ambulance services involve mental health that we can’t attend and we have to signpost a number of these to the most appropriate service at that time.

When I undertake a triage assessment I have a checklist – initially it’s about the current problem that someone is facing, then it is about assessing the current level of risk to themselves and others, before looking at future perceived risk. Once this is established we look at if there is any service available that would be beneficial to refer to and how we can do this.

It is by far the most rewarding job that I have ever done. We enter people’s lives when they are at their lowest, their most unwell and their most vulnerable. We help far more than the patient – most of the time there are a number of extremely worried and concerned family and friends.

The feedback that the team and service has received has exceeded all of our expectations, which has been extremely encouraging that the work we are doing is making a difference.

The benefit of working collaboratively between agencies is that we all offer our own expertise and skill sets. For example, we respond to cardiac arrest calls if we are the nearest available resource as we have a paramedic with us at all times. We carry everything in the boot of our unmarked ambulance car from police shield, to defibrillator, to traffic cones.

Each day is unique and there really are no usual types of scenarios that we find ourselves in. It’s a difficult and tiring job but I sleep far better knowing that people are safe and families are reassured.

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