Addaction – 55 positive

What was the issue you were addressing or working on?

Older drinkers can be more vulnerable and their needs more complex than younger people with alcohol problems. This can be as a result of the potentially greater physical impact of alcohol misuse on older people, as a result of, for example, the interaction of alcohol and medications; higher blood alcohol concentrations caused by body water reducing with ageing; and reduced alcohol tolerance levels.

Many service users from Addactions over 50’s alcohol service also identified social isolation as an on-going issue for them. Once they have became alcohol free and their health and well-being improved, they often found it difficult to exit from the service, and still sought ongoing support. In response, 55 positive seeks to provide an additional care pathway that encompasses peer mentoring, befriending, and social and educational activities.

What you did?

Addaction is a UK wide substance misuse charity with over 40 years history. The organisation has been established in the Glasgow North West area since 2006. They manage a number of services including an over 50’s Alcohol Service. This provides an assertive outreach model to engage older adults who are experiencing significant lifestyle problems due to their alcohol use, along with a Peer Recovery Model known as Mutual Aid Partnerships (MAP).

The 55 Positive project described in this Example of Practice is an add-on to the above  services and operates in the North West Glasgow area. It aims to support individuals in a way that can help them in the longer term, to remain in recovery, reduce their sense of isolation, and increase their levels of independence.

The project employs a  full-time dedicated peer development worker with a specific remit for delivering activities to reduce isolation, increase self-help, and maximise independence for older adults aged 55 plus. Specific outputs are detailed below:

  • A programme of peer mentoring and support has been established where individuals in recovery are trained to become peer mentors to service users, becoming involved in providing a range of support including befriending, activity groups, support to attend appointments, and home visits. Support has been sought from the Scottish Recovery Network and Scottish Recovery Consortium to develop peer mentoring programmes and accredited training.
  • A throughcare pathway has been established for individuals who have been supported through the existing over 50’s outreach service, and from other local partners involved in supporting people aged 55 and over.
  • A bespoke programme of activities including social and educational groups is being co-ordinated to enhance skills and increase participation, using partner agencies to access resources. Links have been established with various community organisations including Stonedyke Communities, Drumchapel Life, the Arc and Whiteinch Centre, the Women’s Library, Glasgow Homelessness Network and the North West Recovery Community.
  • Four activity groups have been developed in the year, including an art group, allotment group, health and well-being group and a newsletter group. These have been facilitated and supported by the development worker and external tutors, with the assistance of other volunteers also recruited through the project.
  • Referral systems for befriending support have also been established for service users earlier in recovery, and with mobility issues.

What were the outcomes - benefits or otherwise?

At the mid-term review of the project in April 2013, 33 individuals had accessed the programme – 21 Males and 12 Females. Of these 10 were aged 50-55, 18 were aged 56-64 and 5 were aged 65-79. Of these participants:

  • 57% reported their emotional health had ‘got better’, with 30% reporting it had ‘got much better’.
  • 50% reported their physical health had ‘got better’, with 15% reporting it had ‘got much better’.
  • Nearly 60% reported an improvement in terms of their involvement in their local community.
  • 65% reported improvements in their relationships with other people

80% reported their alcohol use had ‘got better’ or ‘much better’, with 8 reporting their alcohol use had ceased completely.

Contacts - to find out more

Gillian McCamley,  0141 332 2444