South West London St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust

Attacked in a mental health patient’s home? How do you discreetly call for backup in an emergency? Peoplesafe have the answers…

What do you do when you’re faced with a scenario such as this? You’re a community doctor visiting a patient in their own home. Events take a turn for the worse when the patient brandishing a bread knife, locks you in until their demands are met.

Dr Thomas Verghese of South West London St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust faced this exact situation. A woman threatened to harm herself until she was granted admission to hospital. It was a dangerous and imposing situation which no employee should have to encounter.

NHS Protect – the body that works to identify and tackle crime across the health service, states that over 45,000 assaults on staff were reported annually in the mental health sector alone. Of those surveyed, it equates to nearly one in five staff becoming a victim of an attack. In fact, 68% of all assaults on NHS staff are on mental health professionals.

At the time of the incident, Dr Verghese was accompanied by a colleague yet both felt threatened. Their professionalism and understanding of the situation led them to a calm resolution but as Dr Verghese states, “[he] would have loved to have a Peoplesafe device at this time.”

Not all mental health professionals work in teams. Many find themselves working long, unsociable hours on their own. What would’ve happened had a lone worker encountered the scenario above? How do they call for help when faced with a potentially life-threatening situation?

Our Home Treatment team visits mental health patients in their homes at point of crisis. We therefore work with a range of presentations, including often chaotic and erratic behaviour, heightened emotions which obviously has added risk involved. Thankfully, the Trust now equip their community-based staff with Peoplesafe’s personal alarms.

The small keyfob-sized device allows users to quickly and discreetly call for help in any emergency. With one press of a button, users will instantly be linked to Peoplesafe’s 24 hour Alarm Receiving Centre.

Peoplesafe’s professionally-trained Incident Managers are adept at handling any dangerous situation; they’ll listen in via the alarm’s two-way audio functionality to ascertain the problem – without alerting the aggressor. Because the device is unique to the user, they’ll know who they are and their exact location, as pinpointed on an on-screen map. Within minutes, a police or paramedic response can be on hand to help assist and de-escalate the incident.

With such ease of use, the alarm can be raised in seconds… there’s no scrambling for a mobile phone, having to initiate a call and explain the situation to a 999 operator. Peoplesafe’s Incident Managers will comprehensively manage the situation – relaying all relevant information to the appropriate authorities.

“Simplicity was key in our decision. The user-friendly nature of the MySOS device allows for staff to confidently carry out their assessments with added peace of mind.”

Dr Thomas Verghese

Peoplesafe – an approved supplier on the NHS Supply Chain’s Framework Agreement (trading as Skyguard), is proven in use and already work with over 100 NHS Trusts in providing first class personal protection across a wide range of job roles.