Spotlight on: the Substance Misuse team

To mark Alcohol Awareness Week (15-21 November) we’re highlighting the work of our Substance Misuse team.

According to Alcohol Change UK, 24% of adults in England and Scotland regularly drink over the Chief Medical Officer’s low-risk guidelines. And 27% of drinkers binge drink on their heaviest drinking days.

Alcohol is a causal factor in more than 60 medical conditions including: mouth, throat, stomach, liver and breast cancers, high blood pressure, cirrhosis of the liver and depression.

The Substance Misuse team, made up of two Advanced Nurse Practitioners and two Clinical Nurse Specialists, are part of the Complex Health Hub and Gastroenterology and is helping patients to tackle their reliance on alcohol and other drugs.

“Our team works across the whole of the Trust, delivering specialist drug and alcohol input to patients over the age of 18. This can be anything from prescribing and management of dependence to brief intervention and signposting to community services,” said Steven Picket, Advanced Nurse Practitioner.

In the case of homeless patients, the team collaborates with agencies across Norfolk as well as the hospital-based team District Direct, to help give the best possible advice on shelters, especially in the winter months, and contact points for a warm meal and shower.

“People who sleep rough often have multiple complex health and care needs that too often are not met. Overall, this group experience some of the worst health and care outcomes in the country,” said Marita Isaac, Advanced Nurse Practitioner.

“Our team leads on ensuring the specific needs and rights of homeless individuals – and the range of services available to them – are met when they are admitted to the hospital.

“We also know for people admitted with a history of trauma, the hospital environment can be very challenging, so our role is to support and ensure they feel able to stay and access the medical treatment they need. Our role involves a combination of physical and mental health interventions. We work very closely with our Mental Health Liaison colleagues.”

The team works five days a week and this year have averaged seeing 261 patients each month.

“We also do outpatients clinics: a ketamine bladder clinic with Urology, a multi-disciplinary clinic with Gastro, motivational clinics and a joint clinic with the pain team,” said Steve.

They also work with colleagues on the wards, offering training and support to develop the skills and confidence to deal with patients who have alcohol or drugs dependency.

“We specialise in supporting people with complex needs, particularly those people with alcohol, drug and mental health issues,” added Steve.

“For our team it is very rewarding being able to support somebody to make positive changes towards recovery. There is not a ‘typical’ person whose life has been negatively affected by alcohol and drugs and our aim is to be non-judgemental and encourage positive changes.”

Pictured from left: Luis Pereira (Clinical Nurse Specialist), Marita Isaac (Advanced Nurse Practitioner), Lorraine Tweedy (Clinical Nurse Specialist) and Steve Pickett (Advanced Nurse Practitioner).

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