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Case study for Tracey who works as an Approved Mental Health Professional

Tracey Ketell

Job title: Approved Mental Health Professional

Area of work: Social Care Approved Mental Health Team

Hello, my name is Tracey Ketell. I am an Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP) and a Social Worker, and I work in the Social Care AMHP team in Devon.

When did you start at Devon County Council?

I started at Devon County Council in 2015, in September, and I joined as an Adult Social Worker in one of the Community Health and Social Care teams in East Devon.

What made you choose to work for Devon County Council?

What really attracted me to Devon, was that I wanted to make a move to work in Adult Services. The job was a really exciting opportunity to work in a team that integrated with other professionals, such as Nurses and Occupational Therapists. I would also work in a really beautiful place in the world, because East Devon is so lovely.

Can you give an overview of your role?

So, Social Care AMHP team is made up of 6 AMHP’s who cover all of Devon. We spend some time on a county wide rota, on duty, for people referred in who need a Mental Health Act Assessment. So, half of our time we are on the rota and the other half we are supporting the Community Health and Social Care team in our area. We support colleagues in those teams, who are worried about someone who’s got a mental health problem. Or perhaps worried that this person is unwell and may need to go into hospital.

One of the great things about the AMHP role is that we’ve had time to study and have a really good understanding of those legal frameworks. It’s an opportunity to share that expertise with our colleagues in the Community Health and Social Care teams, with a focus of just trying to get it right for that person.

One of the aims is that everyone who has needs will be cared for in the least restrictive way possible. So, if it’s possible to find a community-based solution for somebody, that means they don’t need to come into hospital. That can be a really good opportunity to look across the services and see what we can do to help people.

As part of my role, I’m also a Best Interest Assessor. Which means that I undertake assessments regarding the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards. It’s brilliant to have that aspect to my role and I’m really lucky to be able to do that. So, as part of that I have expertise around the Mental Capacity Act, and that’s something that I can share with my colleagues in the Community Health and Social Care teams.

How did you come to be in this role?

So, I applied for a trainee post as an Approved Mental Health Professional in early springtime, 2020. It was a role that I was always really interested in. I’ve got a really strong interest in mental health, and it looked like a really amazing opportunity. To be able to work and have time to study at a post-graduate level, and then move onto a new job. Therefore, I was really thrilled when I got the job, and I started in that role in September 2020.

I think one of the best things about Devon’s programme for trainee AMHP’s, which is run by Bournemouth University, is that there is time before you start on the course to shadow other AMHP’s. To learn about the job and the kind of work you will be doing. I found that invaluable at the time and would really recommend other people to apply if they’re interested.

What support did you receive when you joined as a Social Worker?

So, one of the things about being a Social Worker, after you’ve trained, is that you don’t often get that opportunity to go back and learn again. To actually have time at work to learn and reflect. That was one of the best things about the AMHP training, that you get that time. Because there are a lot of opportunities for really good training for all Social Workers. That was particularly important for me because my background, prior to joining DCC, was a Children’s Social Worker.

When I joined Adults Services, I was able to access really good training. This helped me update my skills and feel confident in a new role.

How have you progressed through your role?

I have been really lucky in Devon, as I’ve always been supported by brilliant managers who have helped me to progress, move on and feel confident in the work that I’ve been doing. Devon is actually a really progressive local authority. I have always been able to see that there is an aspiration for things to be better. Better for the people we support, better for communities and that things are moving forward in Devon.

I spent five years working as a Social Worker in the Community Health and Social Care team. I then spent a year working for the Preparing for Adulthood team. Which is a team that works in the gap between Children’s and Adults’ Services and helps to ensure that young people who are going to need care, post eighteen, will be able to move in a smooth way from Children’s Services to Adults’ Services.

What’s your favourite part of what you do?

Thinking about a favourite part of my role is difficult at times. When referring people for a Mental Health Act Assessment, they are at a time in their lives when they’re in crisis. That can be really stressful. Stressful for the person, stressful for the families and stressful for the professionals involved, who just want to do the best they can at that time.

The referral process from a Mental Health Act Assessment can be frightening for people. I think the legal frameworks can be unknown for the people we support. It may be the first time that something like this has happened to them, or their family member, or their child, and they can feel quite frightened and quite overwhelmed.

What else do you enjoy about your role?

One of the best things about the AMHP role is, we are there to support the person through that process. Right from the point we get the referral. We can try help the person and their family understand what is happening, and why. We can provide a counterbalance to the medical model and the views of the doctors. It’s the doctor’s role to look at the aspect of things for the person to consider; what their diagnosis is and what their medical needs are. Whether or not that warrants admission into a psychiatric hospital.

It’s the AMHP’s role to look at that, and to look at everything else going on for that person. To get a really holistic overview and to be in control of that process, to try and do what’s best for that person. Whilst it can be stressful and difficult. There is an opportunity to make that difference for someone, when they are at a really difficult time in their life. That is an aspect of the role I really enjoy and it’s also a privileged position to be in.

What else do you enjoy about your role?

I enjoy working alongside my colleagues. Working alongside my colleagues in the health service, in the NHS. Doctors, Community Mental Health teams, Home Treatment teams; it’s a really varied role. It’s a privilege to be a part of a wider team. A wider collection of people and services that are working with a person and their family at that time.

One of the unique aspects about the AMHP role is that you get to work with a really wide range of people, day to day. It could be a child of twelve or thirteen, one day, and the next day it could be a much older adult, who is in need of care and support. It’s really varied as don’t know what your working day is going to be like. It’s a really enjoyable and challenging aspect of the role.

What benefits do you enjoy?

Devon is an authority who value people and who provide opportunities for progression. Devon value people for who they are. You get a lot of opportunities to develop and progress in your own way.

What do you enjoy about living and working in Devon?

It’s a beautiful county, it’s an amazing place to work. It’s very diverse. There is the fantastic city of Exeter along with all the surrounding areas. There is a lot of variety for Social Workers who live and work in Devon. In terms of that physical environment and the communities that we work with. That’s something I’ve really enjoyed and continue to enjoy about working in Devon.