DDN Sept_2022 September 2022 | Page 12



In the first of a new series looking at careers in the treatment field , DDN highlights the vital role of the recovery / keyworker

People find work in the drugs sector through a variety of routes and for a range of different reasons .

DDN is partnering with Addiction Professionals to explore the pathways into the field , and how to progress once you ’ re there . As everyone knows , working in the sector has its challenges – as has especially been the case in recent years – but it can also be hugely rewarding . It ’ s not everyone who can honestly say that their work is making a real difference to people ’ s lives – with those people being some of the most vulnerable in our society .
The desperately needed infusion of cash following the Carol Black review and the drug strategy will hopefully mark a genuine turning point for the sector after years of disinvestment , and with it come new opportunities for those wanting to enter the field or further
develop their existing careers .
In the coming months we ’ ll be exploring a wide range of roles including pharmacist , therapist , psychologist , social worker , nurse and volunteer , but we kick off by looking at one of the mainstays of the profession – the recovery / keyworker .
Keyworkers are the primary point of contact for the client , and their aim is to build a strong and trusting relationship that will form the basis of a successful treatment journey – something that ’ s become more of a challenge in an era of ever-shrinking budgets and ever-expanding caseloads . The keyworker works with the client to formulate exactly the right care plan , and will also liaise with a range of other professionals – inside and outside the sector – to try to secure the best possible outcomes for their client across areas like housing , health , family issues and employment .
There are no nationally recognised training requirements for keyworker jobs , although some services may specify a minimum necessary level of educational achievement . In community treatment settings this might be a level 3 health and social care diploma , while in residential rehab settings employers may insist on a care certificate . Some keyworkers will be former service users or volunteers themselves , while others may already have professional qualifications from other disciplines such as social work , nursing , counselling , youth work or probation .
While there ’ s no formally recognised accreditation system for the keyworker role , there is accreditation available through Addiction Professionals and there ’ s also accreditation for family workers developed in partnership with Adfam . When it comes to career progression , some employers are happy to support their staff to study for vocational degrees or attain managerial qualifications , or they may encourage them to develop specialisms within the field – such as blood-borne viruses .
Below and opposite we hear from two people about the challenges and rewards of the role .
See careers pages at www . drinkanddrugsnews . com and www . addictionprofessionals . org . uk
We ’ ll soon be launching a regular feature in DDN to match your questions on qualifications , training and employment with expert advice from Addiction Professionals – email your questions to the DDN editor with ‘ Careers Clinic ’ as the subject
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AS A RECOVERY WORKER , my role is to support drug and alcohol users within a prison setting to make changes to their substance use – throughout their sentence and prior to their release . I ’ m responsible for managing a caseload , completing comprehensive assessments and creating individual SMART care plans tailored to a client ’ s individual needs . As well as carrying out tailored one-to-one sessions , I also facilitate group sessions using a range of motivational interviewing skills , as well as CBT .
A person ’ s recovery journey can change a lot whilst in prison , and everyone starts at a different point . I personally feel it is a huge privilege to be involved in this process and play an active part in helping someone change their behaviour . I have clients who have been actively using substances at the point of assessment ( yes , people do use drugs in prison !), and not recognised their use as a problem . Through motivational one-to-one sessions they come to view this use differently , and are then motivated to explore it further during group sessions . Sometimes a seemingly insignificant conversation plants a seed which a client later reflects on . Nothing makes me happier ,