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!).
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.