Substance Misuse in an Ageing Population
APoSM Report identifies a gap in service provision for ageing population who misuse substances.
The latest report considers the population aged 50+ living in Wales which is more ‘pronounced’ than any other region in the UK with a further projected rise in number by 41% by 2020.
Did you know, the fastest growing population within the prison system in Wales are those aged 60+!
With an increasing ageing population, comes greater demand on public health and social care services which are already thought to be overstretched and limited in resources.
Who are APoSM?
What is the remit of the group?
At greatest risk are older people who frequently misuse substances over recommended levels (including alcohol and prescribed medication) and the unintended consequences of dependency of prolonged use over a large period of time.
‘The greatest contributory factor of fatalities amongst the older substance misuse taking population are fibrosis and cirrihosis of the liver’.
The report made a series of stark findings and subsequent recommendations for APB’s and public services including Police and Probation to drive forward change in order to meet the needs of these cohorts of individuals. Some of the recommendations include:
– Services specifically for older adults need to be aware of, and address, substance misuse among their clients.
– Welsh Government and national and UK bodies should promote good practice including routinely surveying older adults and where possibly providing a detailed breakdown of survey responses by age categories
– APB’s should make premises accessible, safe and welcoming to older adults and have a flexible approach to providing treatment
– All relevant services should be taking account of the ageing population and the changing patterns of substance misuse.
– Prison services should continue to provide tailored services for older prisoners and thus given continued attention by probation services
Cardiff and Vale APB undertook a comprehensive needs assessment in 2015/16 to underpin the refresh of its Commissioning Strategy and also identified additional developmental work needed in order to bring services to people who are either hard to reach or otherwise hard to engage.
The APB has recently commissioned a pilot GP alcohol service for older people and women of working age initially in targeted practices across Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan. The pilot has already been well received by practitioners and patients and has achieved positive success in engaging individuals in key harm reduction and prevention messages and referrals into structured treatment and support.