Drink and Drugs News DDN November 2019 (1) | Page 8

ALCOHOL TREATMENT ON THE RIGHT With Alcohol Awareness Week this month, Claire Carlow tells us how Forward’s alcohol pathway is revolutionising treatment in East Kent W hen Forward took over the East Kent service in 2017 we started looking at where we could improve things. It soon became clear that one area was how we supported people whose primary substance was alcohol. The previous treatment model lacked a specific structure so we decided to redesign the entire alcohol treatment pathway to have a more holistic approach. This included blending tailored psychosocial support for individuals and their families with clinical approaches for those who needed it. We utilised a wide range of resources to design the pathway, including service user focus groups, feedback forms, national guidance and workshops with local staff. Once designed, we developed a comprehensive range of information guides and materials to enhance the new pathway and support both staff and service users. We also commissioned bespoke training by Kevin Flemen of KFx – all staff and volunteers, including those who might not end up directly involved in the delivery, were trained, and the new pathway was rolled out just over a year ago. Each of our five local Hubs – Ashford, Canterbury, Dover and Folkestone, Thanet and Swale – has a designated team comprising specialist alcohol workers and peer mentors. We also have a specialist alcohol detox nurse who supports community detoxes across the region. The alcohol pathway involves several stages. Clients are assessed and decide with their key worker what they want to achieve – whether it’s reducing the amount they drink or total abstinence. Clients are then referred to one of two treatment pathways, depending on their level of drinking and eventual goal. The pathway for reducing drinking involves group sessions to understand how alcohol affects both the individual and their loved ones and clients then review whether they need further support, including whether abstinence may be a more suitable goal. The abstinence pathway builds on this support but with additional interventions – these include a medical assessment, regular key working to address individual needs and specific structured groups to inform, plan and support abstinence. Each service now runs peer-led, abstinence-based support groups and links with local Alcoholics Anonymous groups, many of which now run meetings at our services. For clients who need it, medically assisted detox is available – service users are clinically monitored and attend structured treatment sessions, while their families are also given support to understand the challenges their loved one may face. 8 • DRINK AND DRUGS NEWS • NOVEMBER 2019 The pathway has been well received – completions have increased and we’ve supported more than 1,000 people with alcohol issues in the past 12 months, while staff also enjoy working with clients who are more engaged in meaningful treatment. One of the great – and unexpected – impacts of the pathway has been more clients being able to reduce down and stop drinking entirely without the need for medically assisted detox. Of course this isn’t appropriate or safe in all cases, but it’s a huge improvement on where we were a year ago and shows the positive impact of added psychosocial support. We’re continually improving the pathway by asking staff and service users for feedback on what’s working well and what can be improved. During the initial stages family work wasn’t offered in Margate, but since it has we’ve come to realise that it’s a crucial part of making the pathway a success. The family work element has come on leaps and bounds since. The previous treatment model lacked a specific structure so we decided to redesign the entire alcohol treatment pathway. Claire Carlow is regional head of nursing for East Kent at The Forward Trust. For more information on Forward’s alcohol pathway email Claire.Carlow@ forwardtrust.org.uk. ‘Alcohol and Me’ – Get involved at alcoholchange.org.uk WWW.DRINKANDDRUGSNEWS.COM