Picking up from where I left off, the meeting of Psychologists at St. Andrews Church on Saturday 20th January 2018 under the banner of Kenya Psychological Association was a response to a tragedy. In late 2017, a mental health practitioner lost his life through a gun shot wound inflicted by a patient in the mental health institution he worked in. This mental health practitioner happened to have been a veteran.
The number of threats, stalking, physical harm, bodily harm and inappropriate touching that mental health practitioners go through should raise eyebrows if the personal stories and case studies shared in the meeting are anything to go by. All of them are unreported. We too as Kenyans have not been left out of the ‘accept and move on’ national response to painful events. Whilst formal school may speak to difficult and un-cooperative clients and patients, we must evolve by inviting specialists in security management to best advise us on how we can keep ourselves safe and secure from all hazard and not just our clients and patients. No one in the room saw the ‘not just our clients and patients’ coming. And that is the magic of problem solving within an inter-disciplinary consultation.
The risk assessment encompassed the following:
Physical building: emergency exits, steps, placement of safety and security apparatus such as phones and fire extinguishers, entry/exit routes, assembly points, locks on doors, placement of keys, alarms,
Cyber security: Real time posting of activities and location, mentions of home location, exposures of members of the family, privacy settings, dealing with cyber voyeurs and snoopers, passwords and hard-drive backups
Operational: How you conduct your business at the clinic, hospital and office. The workers in your employ and business calendar cycle.
Personal habits and behavior. In summary: route in must never be route out. Vigilance
Instinct. Always listen and obey it.
Vocational integrity: secure storing of patients files, limiting access to patient files, confidentiality of client information
Immediate actions to take when safety and security is threatened
A thorough exploration of all kinds of scenario from the most mundane to the likely complete with a table top exercise.
We all received a very user-friendly tool-kit to help us chronicle our specific work conditions with the mind to gauge what we our weak links were. This tool would then inform us by our own analysis within our realities we would need to reduce, avoid, retain and transfer.
Finally it was brought to the attention of the meeting that protection from having harmed others was an action we should consider as a security feature. Professional indemnity was equally to discuss.
Many areas under safety and security remain unanswered. The 20th January meeting was not about finding solutions but having a thought provoking conversation about how we can improve our professional delivery under the threat of possible fatal encounters with our clients and patients. I am looking forward to being a part of that conversation which happens again in a fortnight.
I want to thank The Kenya Psychological Association, Dr Gladys Mwiti and Major Susuan Osembo, Rtd for a remarkably enlightening session well delivered. Our thoughts are with the dearly departed and prayers for his family as well.
First published 23rd January 2018 via LinkedIn