Christine Lockwood, Interim General Manager for Acute Services in East Sussex, working as part of a nursing team at Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, was nominated for her involvement in creating a street triage service in Eastbourne, East Sussex, in partnership with Sussex Police.
Sussex was the first of four pilot sites to be selected by the Home Office and Department of Health to run a Street Triage scheme, whereby mental health nurses, as part of the triage team, accompany police officers to incidents where people need immediate mental health support to ensure people with mental health issues are kept out of police custody and receive the right treatment and care.
Although Christine works as a general manager, she has many years of experience in working as a Mental Health Nurse in Acute and Crisis Mental Health services.
The trust took the decision to use the acute services to develop the initiative, rather than forensic services, and Christine seized the opportunity to help people in acute mental distress by drawing on her own knowledge and experience and the skills developed by nurses working in acute mental health care; that of risk assessment, quick and decisive assessments and positive risk taking and having the courage to take calculated risks.
Christine instinctively knew that the success of Street Triage would be down to the team developing good relations with police colleagues. With this in mind, she decided not to be too ‘directive’ in designing the service, but let it develop more fluidly as the two agencies worked closer together. She continues to have a very visible nursing leadership presence on the pilot scheme and has worked several shifts with the Street Triage team, demonstrating her commitment to caring for people with potentially serious mental health conditions with compassion.
The presentation here details the journey in more detail.
The Street Triage team has significantly reduced the number of people being detained in custody under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act in the time the pilot has been running. The police use this section to take someone to a place of safety when they are in a public place, if they think they have a mental illness and are in need of care. This has improved outcomes for patients and their carers by directing them into the most appropriate service for them, demonstrating care and competence.
As nurses and police officers have worked together, they have built a mutual respect and understanding of each other’s roles, which has challenged the stereotyped views they previously held about each other. It is these relationships that have made this team work and they have developed a supportive shared approach to working with people in distress based on this learning (communication).
Barbara Vincent, nurse consultant in Dementia and Later Life Services at the trust said: “What Christine brings to her management role is her understanding and compassion as a mental health nurse to inform the provision of services that meet people’s needs in crisis.”
Marie Batey, Head of Acute and Lead for Compassion in Practice added: “Providing truly integrated care means working in a mutually beneficial way with other agencies. Christine and her team are doing this, showing that, with commitment and compassion for people in need of help, this ‘joined-up’ approach to care can create positive outcomes. By going out on the beat with colleagues at Sussex Police they are able to help people, who might otherwise have ended up in custody, receive appropriate care and access to mental health services.”