Home > George's Hill Step-Down programme for recovering drug users.

Keane, Martin (2008) George's Hill Step-Down programme for recovering drug users. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 27, Autumn 2008, p. 15.

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In 2004, the Health Service Executive Rehabilitation/integration Service (RIS) and the Keltoi residential drug rehabilitation service recognised that some people who had taken part in drug rehabilitation in Keltoi did not have a secure and safe living environment to return to and were exposed to the risk of relapse. Also, some were not ready to move to independent living after rehab and needed the help of supported accommodation. Keltoi clients reported difficulties in sustaining accommodation, and at least two-thirds experienced episodes of homelessness. In response, the RIS and Keltoi, in conjunction with Focus Ireland, a voluntary service provider to the homeless, developed an inter-agency response, known as the George’s Hill Step-Down programme, providing six months’ supported accommodation.

  The Step-Down programme has seven self-contained apartments. Clients are responsible for payment of rent and other domestic services such as electricity and phone bills. A tenancy support worker is available to clients for six months after they leave George’s Hill. The RIS continues to work with individuals for at least one year to assist them to access further education, training or employment. Support is provided by a key worker, a caseworker, aftercare sessions and monthly review meetings. Day-time vocational programmes and facilitated group sessions are also provided. The latter include modules on practical skills, education, and stress management, managing accommodation, communication and health care.
 The results of an external evaluation of the programme in 2007 have now been published.1 Data were collected from 10 former and current clients, and from staff members of the three partner agencies, using semi-structured interviews.
Between the time of its launch in September 2005 and August 2007, 15 clients participated in the programme, of whom 12 completed and three left before the end of the six months. A further seven clients were on the programme during the evaluation period in 2007. Of the 22 former and current clients, 15 (68%) were male, 15 (68%) were in the 26–40 age group, and the majority (18) were single.
Of the 12 clients who had completed the programme, six were living independently, two were living with a family member or a partner and four were living in transitional housing. In addition, the evaluation reported that anecdotal information gathered by Focus Ireland key workers, either through direct contact with former clients or through RIS and Keltoi sources, suggested that all former clients remained drug free and all were in education, training, employment or travelling.
1. Juniper Consulting (2008) Step-Down programme, George’s Hill: evaluation report. Dublin: Focus Ireland.

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