“I’ve just finished a night shift at the Maxwell Suite and am looking forward to sinking into bed.
“On my drive home I have been reflecting on the many conversations I’ve had during the night; with my colleagues, the police, AMHPs, doctors, the accident and emergency department, the wards, taxi drivers, service users and family members – true multi-agency working!
“Many were conversations with services users who can’t sleep because of their intrusive thoughts or voices. As an occupational therapist, my skills in understanding how mental illness can impact on the things we want to do and need to do come in really useful. They help me identify what might help. things people enjoy that might be a distraction, but also sometimes just to listen and acknowledge how tough it feels.
“There was a call from the police. They have detained someone and are on route to the Maxwell suite and we will soon need to meet them and understand how we can best support the person.
“While on my phone call I could hear a colleague talking to someone on the phone and asking how many pills they had taken and trying to gently get information about their whereabouts.
“Another colleague is on a call with carers, who are desperately trying to advocate for a loved one, while they can be heard in distress in the background.
“As I end my call, I reach over for information about where the service user might be, and call an ambulance. Working together and supporting each is so important in this role.
“Then everything falls quiet and tea is made. The three of us on nights write up our notes, still wondering how that family are managing their distressed loved one and if the ambulance has found the other person.
“At 2am, a moment of respite, the bright office light goes off and the lamp on. Everything falls silent.
“2.30am: The front buzzer goes. The police are standing with the service user they have brought in for assessment. They are welcomed and reassured. Physical health checks are completed and tea and toast offered. It’s really important to remember the small things that can make a tough situation a little bit better. The police go and the AMHP and doctor are called. The suite bustles with people and work continues till daylight breaks.
“After a busy shift I arrive home and make a cup of tea to take to bed. There’s something nice about sleeping in the day while my untouched cuppa goes cold.”