"Call yourselves a crisis team? Maybe you ought to think about changing your name..."

About: Lord St Resource Centre North West Boroughs Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

(as a relative),

Can somebody please explain a few things to me? I am feeling pretty angry at the moment and quite frankly, and let down by a couple of teams in St Helens.

The main area of concern is the Crisis resolution/home treatment team.

One of the issues a lot of people have is accessing the service. Anybody receiving care from 5 boroughs can call the crisis team between 9am and 9pm and then after 9m it becomes confusing. Some people are told that anybody known to 5bp can use the service after 9pm; others have tried to access the service only to be turned away from Hollins Park Switch because their name is not on a "list". Some people also think it's only those who have been referred into the crisis team that can access the on call practitioner? Is anybody able to clarify any of this?

The second issue that I, personally, have is the "advice" given by some staff members of the crisis team to patients who are trying to access their service. Not only "advice" but it feels like you are given excuses as to why staff cannot speak with a patient.

One example which disgusts me is this..."If you're struggling then the only thing we can suggest is the Samaritans" - a bit of "advice" given by a staff member of St Helens crisis team, to a patient who IS known to services, who was ringing because they were in a very serious crisis. Do staff not have the capacity to contact appropriate emergency services if they are contacted by somebody threatening to take their own life?

My problem is the attitudes of some of the people I have spoken to. They have the attitude that if you've been in crisis so many times their input doesn’t matter... it feels like they think that person is a waste of time, who isn’t being serious about taking their life otherwise they'd have done it by now and would not be asking for help from the crisis team.

Has it ever occurred to them that sometimes, just sometimes we can feel so low that death or suicide or serious harm is the only way out of things? That sometimes we feel so bad, so isolated and so alone and we try to reach out but it’s difficult. That maybe sometimes we actually do feel like we want to die but we are terrified of death itself? And that sometimes it’s not all about alternatives or distractions, but about receiving passion and care from somebody who tries to understand what the hell it is we're feeling that even we don’t understand?

I am begging you; please sort this out, I am worried that somebody who actually doesn’t want to die will! I feel you are putting lives at risk and a lot of people have lost all hope in you.

Call yourselves a crisis team? Maybe you ought to think about changing your name...

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Response from Sandra Embling

Thank you for your comments. Your views are important to us to help us to develop our services. We are concerned that you have had unsatisfactory experiences with the crisis team.

The Crisis Resolution/Home Treatment (CR/HT) Team operates a non waking on call service for people who are currently open to the Team. This means that those people who are in the greatest need get the benefit of CR/HT 24 hours per day. People who are not receiving home treatment can access initial support during the night from NHS Direct, the on call GP or the A&E department and may then be referred to the CR/HT Team if needed. In order to ensure consistent care and wherever possible, we encourage those people already receiving care from a community team, who feel they are in crisis, to contact their care coordinator during weekdays or the CR/HT direct out of hours at the earliest opportunity so that we can work together to bring a resolution to the crisis.

With regards to the advice that was given about telephoning the Samaritans, as you were already receiving care from our Mental Health Services we would expect a more pro-active response from the Team than the offer of Voluntary Sector Service input. This is something we will take up with the team immediately.

The issue you raise about staff attitudes is something that we would like to speak to you further about, so that we can explore your experience and address issues with the team. Should you wish to do this you may contact the CR/HT Team manager, Christopher Day on 01744 621688, or speak to Dennis Dewar, the Advocacy Coordinator, 0n 01925 664450.

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