Working with teams and organizations to help them involve family members

Jim Orford, Lorna Templeton, Alex Copello, Richard Velleman, Akanidomo Ibanga

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11 Citations (SciVal)
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In this article we describe our work in trying to influence whole service teams to move their practice towards greater involvement of affected family members. Work with five teams is described. The process varied but in all cases it included recruitment of the team, training, continued support and evaluation of results. Use of a standard questionnaire for assessing attitudes towards working with affected family members showed significant changes in team members’ knowledge, confidence and team support for working with family members. Records of all project events and meetings suggested that change takes time but that a ‘cultural change’ can take place whereby earlier misgivings are dispelled and positive attitudes towards involving family members become embedded in a team's approach. Diary audit indicated that the frequency of involvement of family members in sessions can be increased three- to five-fold, with teams beginning to carry out work with a diversity of family members, in diverse ways and with diverse positive outcomes. In a number of cases, teams were encouraged to institute new family-friendly procedures, for example changes to appointment letters, assessments and design of waiting and counselling rooms. Lessons have been learnt, including the need to accommodate different levels of initial experience of working with family members, and the need to be clear about project aims and objectives. Sustainability of change remains an issue. A general conclusion is that the capacity of services to take on work with family members affected by substance misuse of close relatives varies greatly. Where organizations already have a mission to involve family members, capacity is good. Where alcohol and drug services have previously been focused on individuals who are misusing substances, change is difficult but can be achieved. For most non substance-specialist organizations, such as primary care health centres and most non-statutory organizations, capacity is very limited. In addition to training and continued support for practitioners, explicit commissioning of work with family members combined with management support is necessary.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)154-164
Number of pages11
JournalDrugs: Education, Prevention and Policy
Issue numbers1
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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