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Home > ‘Beyond rehabilitation.’ An exploration of workers’ experiences in delivering drug services within the special drugs rehabilitation community employment programme.

O'Connor, Noel (2021) ‘Beyond rehabilitation.’ An exploration of workers’ experiences in delivering drug services within the special drugs rehabilitation community employment programme. PhD thesis, Dublin City University.

External website: http://doras.dcu.ie/25297/


Psychoactive drug use is a significant problem for most Western societies. It has been a growing problem in Ireland over the last five decades, causing a multitude of problems for individuals and communities. One of the primary rehabilitative responses available for individuals in Ireland desiring to undertake recovery is the drug rehabilitation Special Community Employment (SCE) programme. The SCE programme supports almost one thousand individuals in their recovery by maintaining stabilisation, reinforcing recovery, providing education and skills training, and developing recovery capital enabling the participant to re-enter society as a contributing member. A review of the literature on SCE indicates that several issues have arisen around funding structures, administration, governance and operations (Bruce 2004; Lawless 2006; CityWide 2013). However, little action has been taken over the last decade to address these issues. The studies referred to, adopted a broad view of the SCE programme. They examined activity across a wide range of stakeholders, including participants, families, workers, community boards and state bodies. While these studies provided excellent information, there was an evident paucity of research focused on the professional and support staff who deliver SCE in local community projects. This research study was undertaken in response to that gap in the literature.It sought to provide some insight into the SCE workers' experiences, which would contribute to the debate on operations and practices in SCEs and policy formation in the broader rehabilitation field. The research used a mixed-methods design methodology consisting of an initial questionnaire to gather quantitative data and a series of semi-structured interviews that provided qualitative data, which enhanced and elaborated on the data gathered at the quantitative phase. This mixed-methods design provided a pragmatic approach that saw both qualitative and quantitative data generated and analysed. Results suggest that SCE workers at all levels have experienced significant challenges to their effectiveness in work and their professional training and development needs. These issues are perceived to arise from the policies, procedures, administration and working conditions under which they operate within the SCE programmes. This research revealed that while social, economic policy and drug policy in Ireland has changed radically over the past decade, the SCE programme has failed to adapt in a way that adequately meets the needs of this changing environment. Several recommendations are made on foot of this study, which if adopted, would improve working conditions, enhance worker training and development and increase the effectiveness of service delivery.

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