As I’ve alluded to and outright said on various occasions, myself and a colleague are running a kind of rota for AMHP work between us. Seeing as the Trust we work in feels that it is more appropriate that those who work in specialist teams (of which the Older Adults Service is one) are best placed to manage there own assessments.
It is difficult running a rota system with two people. We did try initially – we had a week on and a week off. But without being able to clear work for those periods, there can be clashes. We had, we thought, an agreement whereby when neither of us were available, we would pass the assessments to the other CMHTs depending on the local area.
But the one week on, one week off rota kind of melted into a ‘whichever of you is around’ rota. Generally, the consultants like the system as they know us and we are managing and arranging assessments much more quickly than when they had to ask the general CMHTs for ASW support.
Between us though, we try to chivvy up the work as fairly as possible. Fortunately, we get on well and see each other as reasonable people so it hasn’t been an issue. Currently, both of us are involved in the training for the Best Interests Assessments – yes, we could have chosen different dates, but of the proffered available dates, the current ones happened to suit both of us best.
We have a referral on the go at the moment. It is a community assessment for a man about whom we have very little information. But we know he has a violent history and he is thought to have a variety of fairly intimidating offensive weapons in his property.
So we get the warrant (history of refusing access) and request police assistance. Police assistance is needed at a fairly high level due to the history and levels of risk so we have to wait for them to come back to us.
The police come back with an available date which is when we are both attending the aforementioned training.
True to form, I call the local CMHT to ask if they can pick up the assessment for us.
I am told, very bluntly ‘No’.
‘You should be able to organise the rota between the two of you’.
‘Hrm’, I think.’Are you refusing then?’ I ask, just to clarify in my own mind. ‘Yes’ is the response.
‘Rearrange the police – we have to manage our own teams’
‘But you have more than two people’ I respond. And then I stop realising I’m not going to win this particular argument.
I haven’t the authority nor the seniority to argue. I grumble to my manager and send a more terse email to relevant authorities.
Honestly, I’m disappointed that there has been no assistance offered. I am amazed that we are expected to run a 5-day-a-week rota between two people – one of whom manages a team and the other (me) has no caseload relief (as promised, I hasten to add) as a result of the additional work.
So a generalised grumble is in order – or perhaps I am being unfair.
Either way, I am not happy for assessments to be postponed on this basis. The local teams seem to happily accept work freely from each other when they are short-staffed.
Surely a timely assessment in the case of medical need should be act as a guide to providing the best services.
I’m not going to let it lie in any case.