International Women’s Day 2022: Women accessing treatment services

Photo by Becca Tapert on Unsplash

Turning Point’s Nat Travis discusses women accessing treatment services and how this could look post-Covid.

​I’ve worked in the substance misuse sector for almost 20 years. During that time, we’ve seen new drug strategies come and go and the commissioning landscape change. Where we once had multiple providers working across geographical areas to provide a patchwork quilt of services for people (that were often hard to navigate and usually largely focused on drugs), we moved into an era of integrated community services often led by one provider.

Integration has, in my opinion, brought many benefits, including a wider range of services and seamless care coordination for people, but you could argue that some of the specialism has been lost in working with different cohorts and different needs, compounded of course by a decade of austerity. With the new drug strategy published in December 2021 and the funding commitment for the next three years, I am optimistic that as a sector we’ll be in a strong position to bring back specialism and support the needs of individuals in a more tailored way. But when I think of women in treatment, I’m not sure we ever had the specialism needed in the sector, with the exception of a few specialist organisations.

Traditionally, providers have always seen a greater proportion of males in treatment (often in the region of two thirds to one), so how do we change this and ensure that we provide the right opportunities for women to engage with treatment, and that our treatment offers them what they need?

The previous two years of the Covid pandemic have required us all to work differently, and many of the interventions we previously delivered face to face we realised we could deliver remotely. Something we have seen during this period at Turning Point is an increase of 25% in the number of females accessing treatment with us. Now we know that the needs of many people have increased during this difficult time, and overall, more people are accessing services, but the increase for us is weighted towards women, so does this different way of working encourage more women to access treatment?

Read the full blog post here.

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