A 1/4 of new starts at Blenheim are over 45

27 February 2014

We are about to see a huge increase in the number of older people with significant health problems resulting from a drugs and alcohol consumption and dependency which makes this report an important wake up call to government, commissioners and service providers – John Jolly, Blenheim

It’s about time: Tackling substance misuse in older people by Drugscope highlights that, although the number of older people with substance misuse problems is increasing, they remain a marginalised group whose needs are not always well met. It recommends that health and social care professionals working with older people should be trained in delivering brief interventions and ‘sensible drinking’ advice and highlights that many specialist substance misuse services for older people are facing discontinuation of their funding, despite the importance of services for this group.

Blenheim provides services that target older people with drug and alcohol misuse problems and as the graph below shows those over 45 years old represent nearly 25% of new treatment starts at Blenheim.

Blenheim new treatment starts by age in 2011-12

Figure 3: Graph showing Blenheim new treatment starts by age in 2011-12

Blenheim will continue to explore how the organisation can provide services in a way that ensures the accessibility and relevance of services for older people, including specific groups or times for older people, satellite services operating out of community provision aimed specifically at older people – for instance, local support groups – and home visits.

We note that a significant underlying cause of substance misuse in older people is social isolation and loneliness. Blenheim continues to facilitate access to a range of services to help to address this through social activities and events, as well as regular support groups and opportunities to volunteer and work for the organisation.

Blenheim recognises:

Peer support, from ‘real peers’, can cut across the stigma that some older people with drug and/or alcohol problems experience, helping them to feel more comfortable in a service and providing examples of positive change. Peer mentors can provide support in a range of ways, including emotional and practical support on a one-to-one basis and by facilitating groups and social activities.

The need for appropriate training for substance misuse practitioners on the particular needs and issues faced by older people with drug and/or alcohol problemswill factor  into our review of the development needs of staff.

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