Drink and Drugs News DDN November 2019 (1) - Page 8
ON THE RIGHT
With Alcohol Awareness Week this month,
Claire Carlow tells us how Forward’s alcohol
pathway is revolutionising treatment in East Kent
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
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.
lacked a specific
structure so we
decided to redesign
the entire alcohol
Claire Carlow is regional head of nursing for East Kent at The Forward Trust.
For more information on Forward’s alcohol pathway email [email protected]
‘Alcohol and Me’ – Get involved at alcoholchange.org.uk