New scheme to target harmful drinking

2014_02_05-City-Chambers-1 council edinburgh

Edinburgh Council are planning to launch a new scheme aimed at helping frontline staff identify problem drinking amongst elderly people.

An advice toolkit was drawn up after alcohol-related harm was identified as a significant concern amongst those aged 65 years and over and living in the Almond and Western Edinburgh areas of the city.

A report about the scheme will be made to members of the Communities and Neighbourhoods Committee when it meets on Tuesday February 10th, 2015.

Staff training and the toolkit, which includes a unit measuring glass, phone numbers and information leaflets, has been well received and it is anticipated that similar training may be received by Police Scotland, Scottish Fire and Rescue and third sector partners in the future.

The scheme was created by the joint Almond and Western Edinburgh Neighbourhood Partnership Health and Community Care Sub-Group in collaboration with NHS Lothian who had concerns about drinking habits; these were supported by local health care partners and local GPs.

The next step is to roll the training programme out to third sector partners, equality groups and local businesses. Information sessions are also planned for GP surgeries, pharmacies, libraries and shopping centres.

Councillor Maureen Child, Communities and Neighbourhoods Convener, said:

Many elderly people enjoy the occasional tipple, and there is nothing wrong with that. This toolkit is aimed at those whose drinking habits are causing harm to their health and are in need of advice.

Staff have been very positive about the pilot scheme and have welcomed the support it gives them to approach residents who may be struggling. It makes sense to roll it out to other areas of the city, and it’s fantastic that other organisations are also interested in using it.

The health and well-being of our residents is the most important factor, especially with our ageing population. Anything that helps to reduce health inequalities should be welcomed.

Lesley Taylor, Neighbourhood Support Service Manager for the Council, has taken part in the training. She works with vulnerable adults through the housing support service. She said:

Our priority is to support the people we visit to make the best choices regarding their health and lifestyles. This toolkit has been extremely helpful by giving staff the confidence to talk to clients where there is a concern about their drinking habits. We’ve found that people are open to the advice and have been able to dispel some of the myths surrounding alcohol use.

Eleanor McWhirter, NHS Lothian Lead in Alcohol Brief Interventions, added:

This pilot is a great example of community groups, NHS Health Promotion Service and the Council working together to promote the health and well being of the local population.

It revealed that intervening early and focusing on the needs of local people can be effective in reducing alcohol consumption. We look forward to potentially expanding this work to other areas of the city.

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