New Practice – One Recovery Staffordshire

Chris Judge, our Director of Service Delivery for Staffordshire wrote the below article for Adfam’s quarterly ‘inPractice’ newsletter – read on to find out how One Recovery Staffordshire is implementing family based interventions to great success.

One Recovery Staffordshire is an innovative partnership that has been providing substance misuse services across Staffordshire since July 2014. The One Recovery Partnership is led by Addiction Dependency Solutions (ADS), and consists of four other organisations specialising in substance misuse, mental health, housing and other wider aspects of substance misuse addiction; North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare Trust, Change Wellbeing Charity, Arch North Staffs and Brighter Futures.

ADS has been delivering parenting programmes as part of our service provision for a number of years; however, One Recovery Staffordshire provided the opportunity to deliver these programmes as a central element of a fully integrated substance misuse service. There is a clear need for family based interventions as part of targeted treatment – this was recognised by the National Treatment Agency (NTA), who in 2009, developed guidance for the development of joint working protocols between drug and alcohol treatment services and local safeguarding and family services – the Munroe Review of Child Protection was published in October 2010 and highlighted:

• Overall, there were 607,000 children who were referred to children’s social care in 2009-10, of whom 6% became the subject of child protection plans

• Overall, there were 383,300 children receiving social care support who were described as ‘children in need’ in 2009-10

• There were 68,207 adults receiving drug treatment in 2009-10 who had a child living with them at least some of the time.

The NTA subsequently published their report, ‘Parents with Drug Problems; How Treatment Helps Families’ (2012). This report highlighted that:

• Parents with drug problems present real risks to their children. But drug treatment helps them to overcome their addiction and look after their children better

• 105,780 of the people receiving drug treatment during 2011-12 (just over 50% of everybody in treatment) were either parents or lived with children

• 40,852 were parents living with their own children; 25,341 were living with children not their own; 39,587 were parents who were not living with their children

• Parents who live with their own children have fewer drug-related issues than others in treatment. They are also more likely to complete their treatment successfully

• Early intervention and joint working can maximise the positive impact treatment and support services have on parents with drug problems

There are many more reports, prior and since the above, that examine the benefits of family based substance misuse interventions; without reproducing a whole list of report, there is clear evidence to suggest family based interventions, that target parent’s substance misuse whilst building positive relationships with family members, are a vital part of substance misuse provision. The ability of One Recovery Staffordshire to work flexibly across the varying needs of service users has allowed us, as a partnership, to directly target and offer family based interventions as part of our service delivery.

Upon commencement of One Recovery Staffordshire a review of current caseload indicated that there was a significant number of parents in services (45% of active service users), and that the majority of these had their children living with them (60%) – there was also a number of individuals in treatment who were pregnant. Our internal statistics, combined with evidence from national reports, provided the rationale to adopt family interventions throughout our services.

The family based interventions adopted across Staffordshire are based upon ADS’ parent specific programmes; these have been developed since 2008, both in community and prison settings. The programmes take slightly different approaches; one focuses on positive parenting skills for those parents who are working towards or in recovery, the other, focuses on how to keep children safe and healthy whilst parents may still be in the midst of their addiction. These programmes have been evaluated internally, and have produced positive outcomes; however, this is not the end goal for ADS. We are committed to improving our service delivery across numerous outcome areas, including developing a more holistic approach to family work – this means not just limiting interventions to parental substance misusers, and by default, their children, but extending our provision to wider family members, such as, siblings, uncles and aunties and service user’s parents. Accordingly, ADS have developed groups where other family members can access our services to receive help and support, and interact with and share similar experiences with other family members of those individuals in treatment.

Whilst it is an ambition to be able to offer a variety of high quality interventions across the spectrum of a service users needs, and one we are working towards as an innovative charity, we also work with specialist services in the community that have specific skills and knowledge in regards to family based interventions. It is key to the quality of overall service provision that we form positive working relationships with other specialist services in the community; in Staffordshire we have developed such a relationship with family services – we approached the various family services across Staffordshire to develop joint working protocols alongside offering more interventions directly within our service. The experience of working with statutory family services has been particularly positive so far, rather than simply write a high level protocol and expect managers to implement it, we have facilitated direct contact between our service and locality managers to allow them to develop their own working relationships, and implement and develop appropriate ways of working so as to achieve the best outcomes for the families of Staffordshire. We will still adopt a joint protocol to formalise service delivery, however, the benefits from working together at a devolved level to develop appropriate and specific interventions, tailored to respected areas, have been clear.

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