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8. Dangerous Behaviour - Responding to Amber Alerts

The major focus of this blog will be about how to respond when you are in the Red Zone when everything changes. None-the-less, it is worth saying a bit more about the Amber Zone and how to respond to it. If you recall this is the zone when you encounter something unexpected, something unexplained or you just have that feeling that something is wrong. Here the strong advice is to either "stop and investigate" or "withdraw and consult".

The "withdraw and consult" option is fairly self-explanatory so I won't waste time going through that. The "stop and investigate" option, however, is often missed or avoided. It might feel easier just to cross our fingers and go with the flow - but that risks allowing a crisis to develop and missing important opportunities.

Imagine arriving at a property to visit a service user and someone you have never met opens the door and invites you in (something unexpected - the Amber Zone). To enter the property may put you at risk - you know nothing about this person, they have not been part of your risk assessment and if you weren't expecting them - who or what else might you not expect. So rather than enter it is better to "stop and investigate." This simply involves asking questions - with one proviso - avoid questions involving the word "why". When you ask "why" the other person can feel put on the spot, challenged, feel they have to justify themselves and may lead them to rebuff you or you may end up down a rabbit hole. On the other hand questions involving "who, where, what, when and how" tend to signal interest. "Oh I was expecting to see Mrs Sharma, can I ask who you are?" "Where is Mrs Sharma, can you ask her to come to the door?".

Take the example from an earlier posting of a flat and depressed service user unexpectedly telling you that they are going to spend a week with their cousin. "I didn't know about your cousin, "when was the last time you saw them?" "what did you do at your cousin's place?" "how get you get in touch with them?" "where does your cousin live?" and so on. Just be curious, but with a purpose - it would be useful to know if this cousin is a positive influence, if they actually exist, if the label "cousin" is a name given to a voice they hear and their mental health is deteriorating. That information may allow intervention before the crisis becomes full blown.

In both the Amber and Red Zones it is critical that we are active and remain on the front foot.

Stay Safe


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