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Alcohol and Drugs Consultation Summary report

Findings from the qualitative data

From the thematic analysis of the narrative data produced from the indepth focus group and one-to-one interviews, we make the following findings:

  • Knowledge of services: all of the interest groups who were consulted reported that they had limited knowledge of which services existed, where these were and how they could be accessed. Increasing this awareness was one of the most popular recommendations for continuing service.
  • Experience of services: there were a range of experiences expressed by current, past and possibly future service users and their carers/families in relation to the current treatment provider. A high proportion of service users consulted, reported being satisfied with servicesthey receive from the current provider. Contrasting this, was the view from ex- service users, those not in treatment and other carers. Feedback has been taken on board by commissioners as part of service improvement planning.
  • Mental health: a theme throughout the consultation has been the link between alcohol and substances and poor mental health and respondents reported how strongly connected and widespread both issues were in local communities. Feedback was mixed with regard to dual diagnosis and satisfaction with provision once clients have accessed mental health services. Areas for improving access to care were identified.
  • Partnership working and communication:there were a number of discussion points relating to the level of involvement and cooperation between partner organisations. It was felt that there were several shared objectives and areas of mutual advantage between partner agencies, e.g. health, housing and criminal justice. There were a number of reports of positive experiences of cooperation. However, there was a particular strand within this theme of problems with information sharing. Respondents reported that much would be gained from improving feedback and communication, and current mechanisms could be inadequate.
  • Prison-related issues:during this consultation, prison-related issues were raised on several occasions. The first of these were concerns raised by prison-based services about continuity of carefor vulnerable people leaving prison. There were also expressions of concern about substitute prescription transitions. However, it was reported that a new, multiagency taskforce had been set up, to look into this issue.
  • Raising awareness: during the consultation, stakeholders were asked for their proposals and suggestions about how to improve service and the situation. Raising awareness of serviceswas first on most people's suggestions in order to address gaps in knowledge and understanding of what is available, both for the general public and for professionals. Most stakeholders reported the need to invest in educationand prevention, both in schools and the wider community, about the effects of alcohol and drugs
  • Service improvements: there were a number of suggestions for service improvements, starting with outreach: It was felt that incorporating elements of outreach and home visiting could make the service more inclusive and enable it to be brought to more isolated and/or excluded people, e.g. those with mental health problems, and any others who are discouraged from attending the current delivery venues. This may also address a difficulty of accessing people outside existing treatment services, where there is currently a deficit. There were calls from a number of different stakeholders for an extension of service hoursto beyond the standard nine to five.
  • Training: there were several knowledge deficit areas that were identified, which respondents felt could be addressed through training. Training was proposed for pharmacy staff in alcohol awareness and cessation; frontline workers (including doctors) in health and treatment services in both mental health awareness and implicit (or unconscious) bias.