My duty as an AMHP (Approved Mental Health Professional) is fundamentally to co-ordinate and carry out assessments according to the Mental Health Act (1983 – as amended 2007).

So in the case of a community assessment, I will request the doctor’s attendance – if a warrant is required for entry, I will attend the local magistrate’s court and request police assistance if needed.

I book the ambulance and although the Mental Health Act Code of Practice is clear in vesting the responsibility for bed finding to the doctors involved, our current practice where I work would mean that I would alert our Trust ‘bed manager’ of the impending assessment who would then inform me of the bed that I can use.

I am obliged to accompany the patient to the ward if they are admitted under section (compulsion) to ensure that the admission papers travel with the person themselves – although this can be delegated, I have never done so – and even if it were, it would remain my responsibility as the AMHP.

Once on the ward, I hand the papers to the member of staff whose role is to ‘accept papers’ who will then check everything is correct. I will, if I can, stay to see the patient settled but one of the other matters that I am tasked with is to under Section 48 of the National Assistance Act (1948) which explains

(1)Where a person—

(a)is admitted as a patient to any hospital, or

(b)is admitted to accommodation provided under Part III of this Act, or

(c)is removed to any other place under an order made under subsection (3) of the last foregoing section,

and it appears to the council that there is danger of loss of, or damage to, any movable property of his by reason of his temporary or permanent inability to protect or deal with the property, and that no other suitable arrangements have been or are being made for the purposes of this subsection, it shall be the duty of the council to take reasonable steps to prevent or mitigate the loss or damage.

(2)For the purpose of discharging the said duty, the council shall have power at all reasonable times to enter any premises which immediately before the person was admitted or removed as aforesaid were his place of residence or usual place of residence, and to deal with any movable property of his in any way which is reasonably necessary to prevent or mitigate loss thereof or damage thereto.

Put briefly, I have to ensure the property is secure. This is usually done by enlisting a locksmith to attend the assessment so that if the lock does have to be broken it can be replaced immediately.

‘Moveable property’ though, also ensures that any pets are taken care of and I have a legal responsibility to ensure the well-being of any pets left behind in a property.

And so it was that I learnt of the existence of a device called a ‘cat trap’ (obviously one of those humane traps!).

image AmbHain at Flickr

I had carried out an assessment a couple of days ago. It was relatively fraught, as is often the case. Mr Y though had a very timid cat. After he had been admitted I called our animal warden to see if we could arrange a cattery for the cat in question (as that is invariably what we do).

He was happy to agree it but we needed to find Ginger. Along with Mr Y’s daughter (whose own child was allergic to cats), we went to try and find him. And we couldn’t. He is a timid cat at the best of times but the uproar and noise of strangers padding in and out of his ‘den’ must have had some kind of impact.

That was when the warden suggested a trap. He explained that it wasn’t as scary as it sounded and just involved putting food inside a cage which would close down when kitty entered.

And the trap was left overnight. The next morning, sure enough, there was Ginger. Looking disshevelled but rather plumply satisfied and with the warden, we waved him on his way to his own ‘place of safety’ for a couple of weeks at least.

Sometimes you really never do know what the day will bring.

Of cars and kittens

I don’t drive. Not only do I not drive, I don’t actually have a driving license. My last driving lesson (14 years ago) ended in my driving instructor actually telling me she did not want to teach me anymore (2nd crash – in my defence it wasn’t serious – I only drove into the back of a stationary police car – noone was hurt!).

So  it’s probably no surprise that I have no interest in cars. Yesterday, I visited a woman who has an anxiety disorder. I go as regularly as I can and just keep an eye on how she is managing and in general it is one of those fairly low-key visits.

She has a car, and her car was broken. I offered to phone the RAC for her as she has a distrust and dislike of the telephone. I feel faintly embarrassed by the conversation I had – but I think the RAC man had a good old laugh.

An RAC roadside-assistance van in 2004.

Image via Wikipedia

OK, perhaps when I was asked what type of car it was, answering ‘Green’ might not have been the wisest answer – but I don’t know what car is what! I also tried ‘Green and smallish, I think it’s quite old’. At that point, I could hear him sniggering. Of course, when he asked what was wrong with it,  we entered an almost surreal level of conversation – as I wasn’t actually sure.

‘It won’t start’ I said.

‘Yes’ said the still-giggling RAC man ‘I understand that, but why?’

‘Because it doesn’t go – I don’t know’

I’m sure he was calling his mates over or had me on speaker phone in his call centre place!

‘Can you be a bit more specific, miss’ Grrrr. I wish I knew about cars. I  really hate conforming to gender stereotypes and I find ‘miss’ faintly patronising but I felt I wasn’t in a position to complain for want of causing more hilarity.

‘Not really, because I don’t know’.

Anyway, in the end, he agreed to come. I’ll pop in today to check the car was actually fixed.

If he’d asked me about ancient Greek philosophy or discourse theory, I’d have had a really good response to him – but cars.. not my forte.

image Mel @ flickr

Another visit yesterday with an almost comical slant. I was visiting a man with fairly advanced dementia and substantial physical health problems and his wife. There were three generations living in the same two bedroom flat, so there were a couple of children running in the corridor.

As I walked to the lounge, one of the kids shouted at me to ‘Watch out’. I looked down – and I had almost stood on  a tiny  kitten.

Luckily I managed to sidestep out of the way,  but this kitten was minute. I was told by the wife that it had been given to one of the children by someone in a park but it was much too small to have been away from its mother – still it was quite a sprightly thing. It was fascinated by my feet, which it constantly tried to nibble and was trying to climb into my bag (which I did close) throughout.

I had to be really careful when I left the house with a small kitten that would have fit easily into the palm of my hand scurrying around my feet. I had the constant ‘Must not tread on cat’ mantra running through my head. And that’s a thought I don’t often consider.