What is the initiative?
Substance Misuse Carer Support and Development Project
Who runs it?
Wandsworth Carers’ Centre, a Network Partner of Carers Trust
Who does it benefit?
People aged 18 or over living in the London borough of Wandsworth who are affected by another adult’s drug or alcohol use, be it a family member, neighbour, relative or friend. This also includes carers of those with dual mental health and substance misuse issues (known as ‘dual diagnosis’).
What does it do?
The Substance Misuse Carer Support and Development Project provides one-to-one support through appointments, home visits, telephone calls and e-mail exchanges, as well as information, advice, signposting and group sessions for anyone in Wandsworth affected by another adult’s drug or alcohol use. Support is also offered to carers of individuals with a dual diagnosis of a mental health problem and substance misuse problem.
When did it start?
Why was it started?
Following the government’s Drug Strategy, Wandsworth Drug and Alcohol Action Team felt there was a need to support families of people with substance misuse problems, and Wandsworth Carers’ Centre was given funding to set up the service.
What are the aims and objectives?
- To increase carer awareness of support and treatment available for those misusing drugs and alcohol (both locally and nationally) and information on how to access these services
- To develop a better understanding of the needs of carers of people misusing drugs or alcohol (including dual-diagnosis) through data collection and consultation
- To increase direct support to carers in respect of their own needs through information, signposting, advice and practical support where appropriate, offering group support and referral to services
- To develop the involvement of carers in the commissioning and performance management of drug and alcohol treatment services
- To improve the understanding and service response to carers by drug and alcohol treatment services through education and advice
How is it funded?
The funding comes from the NHS Wandsworth Drug and Alcohol Service.
What has it achieved?
There has been a lot of positive feedback from carers including:
- “It has helped me a great deal. I have been able to talk about things that worry me.”
- “You feel as though you’re not on your own.”
- “I feel uplifted when I leave. I feel relieved.”
The project has been steadily growing. 70 carers are currently registered, with around 20 to 25 accessing support at any one time. Around five carers regularly attend peer support meetings, though this tends to fluctuate from month to month.
In the past year several other innovative groups have been developed including:
- a six week support group aimed at educating carers on drugs and alcohol, understanding addiction, setting boundaries, and coping with conflict
- a Dual Diagnosis Clinic, held every two months, facilitated by members of Wandsworth Dual Diagnosis Service, for carers of people who have a diagnosis of a mental health problem and a substance misuse problem.
The Substance Misuse Support Worker has also attended a number of external meetings such as the Drug Reference Group, carer forums at addiction treatment centres and the Peer Information Group of the Wandsworth Community Drug Team, to share information and facilitate carer participation, and has delivered carer awareness training to a range of professionals including mental health staff, drug and alcohol workers and related professionals from other voluntary agencies.
Feedback from professionals attending training sessions has been positive. Comments include:
- “Helped me to be more open-minded about involving a client’s significant other or family ... with their treatment and care plan.”
- “I will change our assessment tool to incorporate questions on carers and families.”
How have carers have been involved in planning and delivering this work?
Carer input has been fundamental from the outset. Feedback forms are regularly used to ask carers what they want from the service and how they would like to see the project develop. The peer support group is also used to gather carer input and influence planning.
The project is also committed to ensuring that carers are consulted on local drug and alcohol treatment strategies and other local services through focus groups, questionnaires and opportunities to participate in a number of ongoing meetings and one off events.
Some examples have included:
- Carer involvement in assessing tender bids during the recent procurement process for a newly designed drug and alcohol treatment system in Wandsworth
- Ongoing carer membership as part of a Carer, Friends and Family group set up to monitor the implementation of the Carers Strategy through South West London and St Georges Mental Health
- Carer participation in a PCT led stakeholder event aimed at engaging with wider partners in its work to reduce alcohol related harm in Wandsworth
- Carer participation in the development of a ‘Dealing with Substance Misuse in the Family’ course available to Carers at Springfield Recovery College, South West London and St Georges Mental Health Trust.
Setting up a project like this?