The last couple of months have witnessed the culmination of several months of planning as we have now introduced the Psychological Wellbeing Programme for serving officers. The programme is fully established at St Andrews and, following the completion of the wonderful new facilities, much of the programme is also up and running at Castlebrae.
The decision to introduce this new initiative stemmed from of a desire to offer a more structured and holistic approach for the increasing number of officers seeking assistance for anxiety and depression, and the initial feedback from those who have completed the programme has been extremely positive.
It represents a substantial investment for the Charity in terms of increased nursing, patient advisor and complementary therapy hours and I am very grateful for the support of the Police Dependants Trust, the Police Mutual Assurance Society and the Blue Lamp Foundation who have all made generous donations to assist in the establishing of this innovation.
The combination of group classes and individual counselling and complementary therapy sessions has been well received and I’m looking forward to presenting a fuller review of the programme so far at our forthcoming AGCM which takes place at St Andrews later this month.
Sadly there is a growing evidence base that suggests demand for psychological support will continue to grow in the future.
Alongside our fundraising team I attended the recent Police Federation Annual Conference in Bournemouth in order to help spread awareness of the new developments at the PTC. The conference session discussing Mental Health included the presentation of University of Nottingham research that had found that more than a quarter (29%) of Police Officers who had been off work sick in the previous 12 months said one or more days of that had been due to stress, depression or anxiety. Worryingly they also found that 65% of these officers said they still went to work even though they felt they shouldn’t have because of the state of their mental wellbeing on one or more occasions. Whist there is much good work going on at present in various forces to improve the situation, it is clear there is still a long way to go.
It was great to meet up once again with Faye McGuinness, Mind’s Blue Light Programme Manager, who was also presenting to the conference. We are strong supporters of the programme and the signing of the MInd Blue Light pledge has been central to our goal of establishing Parity of Esteem for Mental and Physical Health at the Police Treatment Centres.
The growing number of Blue Light Champions across the country is a hugely positive development and we are hosting a meet up for Champions from forces in our area in the next couple of weeks in order to strengthen links and examine how we can best support their work.
Whist the focus of late has been on psychological support we certainly have not forgotten that the majority of officers visiting the PTCs do so for physiotherapy, and I am thrilled that the Trustees have commissioned Robert Gordon University to carry out an extensive study to measure the impact of the physiotherapy input provided here.
We recently met up with Dr Lyndsay Alexander and Dr Hector Williams of the School of Science and the Faculty of Health and Social Care at the University to complete the planning phase and finalise the methodology for the research.
The study will take place between June and December 2016 and will be the most in-depth look at our services that has ever taken place. The team will look at the progress of over 1000 officers who will receive physiotherapy during this period and examine the benefits of the treatment they receive. I’m confident that we will be able to demonstrate the fantastic quality of input that the clinical teams provide for the officers who attend the centres.
Lastly this month, a team of PTC staff have been training hard for the gruelling Knaresborough Bed Race which takes place on the 11th June. The event comprises a 2.4km race against the clock pushing a bed around the streets of Knaresborough, including at least one very steep, lung bursting, energy sapping hill and concluding with a crossing of the icy waters of the River Nidd. The team consists of physiotherapists Dan and Karen, fitness instructors Emma and Johnny, complementary therapist Kate and last, (and probably least) myself. Anyone coming to St Andrews the week after might just see the 6 of us hobbling around and grimacing whilst saying “never again!”.
If you are around North Yorkshire on the day then the event is definitely worth a visit and don’t forget to cheer on the “Dazzling Bobbies”. If you can’t make it on the day then you can still show your support for the team by visiting the justgiving page.
Head of Clinical Services