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Home > Supporting and involving carers: a guide for commissioners and providers.

National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse. (2008) Supporting and involving carers: a guide for commissioners and providers. London: National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse.

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Produced to improve services for families and carers, this guidance is for those involved in the planning, commissioning and delivery of services for families and carers, and drug treatment services. The document covers commissioning themes, developing services specific to families and carers, and involving families and carers in drug users’ treatment.

This guidance is relevant for all those involved in the planning, commissioning or delivery of services specifically for families and carers, and drug treatment services.

Having a relative or friend who is a drug misuser is an extremely stressful experience, which can affect individuals’ physical health and psychological wellbeing, finances, social lives, and relationships with others. These impacts often mean that families, kinship carers and other carers need help in their own right, to enable them to cope better with what are usually on-going, long-term issues.

Not only is it important to help family members, kinship carers and other carers deal with these challenges for their own wellbeing, but appropriately including family members and carers in the treatment process often allows them to better support drug users.

There is a good deal of evidence that suggests supporting and involving family members and carers effectively can lead to improved outcomes for family members and carers, as well as drug users themselves – this is summarised at
www.nta.nhs.uk/familycarer.

Effectively involving family members, kinship carers and other carers helps users increase their chances of:
• Entering treatment
• Reducing or stopping their drug misuse
• Engaging with treatment if they do enter
• Being retained in treatment
• Successfully concluding treatment.
Drug users are also less likely to suffer major relapses. This leads to better quality of service provision overall.

Effective support for family members and carers in their own right, and involvement of families and carers in drug users treatment can be achieved by:
• Commissioning consistent, effective and quality services for family members and carers who are affected by someone else’s drug use, either through generic mainstream carer services or through specialist substance misuse family member and carer services
• Ensuring services that treat drug users involve family members and carers in their treatment, as far as this is possible and appropriate
• Involving family members and carers effectively in the planning and commissioning of drug treatment, and family and carer services
• Embedding effective monitoring systems and practices relating to work with family members and carers within commissioned services
• Local commissioners tracking delivery of these services via robust delivery assurance systems


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