Department of Health Pilot
A pilot to raise awareness of the support needs of families and carers affected by another person's substance misuse has increased referrals to family substance misuse counselling services in Brighton & Hove by 180%.
The Department of Health commissioned CRI to look at how carers' needs could be better addressed when conducting an initial assessment of people with substance misuse issues. The pilot was conducted by CRI's PATCHED project in Brighton & Hove, which works with families, friends and carers whose lives have been adversely affected by another adult's substance misuse.
The overall aim of the pilot was to improve understanding of the impact of substance misuse on family members and carers and to give those carers early access to support services. A series of measures were introduced to identify the needs of family and carers during the initial assessment of individuals seeking drug and alcohol treatment. These measures included asking the substance misuser about the impact of their behaviour on their family or carers and seeking permission to share information with them. This enabled PATCHED to contact family members and carers and offer them access to specialist support services including duo counselling (counselling for any two people affected by drug/alcohol use).
PATCHED also trained assessors to recognise the impact of substance misuse on carers and families. The training highlighted the important role of assessors in both providing therapeutic interventions to carers and family members with emotional and/or physical health problems and in signposting them to other services.
"Caring for someone with drug or alcohol problems can have an extremely damaging impact on the health and wellbeing of carers," said Alison Ede, PATCHED team leader. "Providing support for carers at the start of the substance misuser's treatment journey improves their health and wellbeing and also has a positive impact on the recovery of that person." 'Reaching out to carers', a DVD about the impact of substance misuse on families and carers has been produced by PATCHED.