The system that enables access to residential rehab ‘isn’t working’, says a new report from Phoenix Futures.
Although residential treatment is now being delivered to a higher standard than ever before – allowing people with complex needs to lead ‘happy and healthy lives’ – fewer people are able to access it, says Making rehab work.
Thousands more people every year need to be able to access residential services, states the document, which challenges preconceptions about residential being poor value for money. The causes of the ‘dramatic’ decline in access over the last decade are complicated, it says, and while addressing funding and commissioning is vital, commitment is also needed from a range of bodies including providers and central and local government.
The report’s findings are based on the input of people who use a range of services and those with lived experience of residential, alongside commissioners and providers. The report ‘does not advocate for one treatment approach’, says Phoenix, and calls for ‘appropriately funded’ community-based treatment alongside improved access to residential.
Among the document’s recommendations are the need for a renewed focus on the place of residential provision at local commissioning level, with ‘clear spending plans for committed resources’, as well as ensuring that commissioning complies with national guidelines and that outcomes are effectively tracked. There should be a national specification for residential rehab that builds on NICE guidelines to ‘unpack eligibility criteria, quality standards, outcome monitoring and resettlement/aftercare provision,’ it says, adding that preserving residential provision must form part of any response to the Carol Black review.
‘Residential treatment has been, and continues to be, an effective policy response to a wide range of social issues,’ writes chief executive Karen Biggs in the document’s foreword.
‘But most importantly, residential treatment is a place of safety for some of the most traumatised and socially deprived people in society. When people cannot find safety and security where they live, residential treatment offers them that place of safety, structure, and mix of interventions to build a better life away from imminent danger and risk. However, in England it has become increasingly difficult, and even impossible in some regions, to access this specialist life-saving treatment unless you can afford to pay for it privately. With access to residential treatment at a record low, and drug and alcohol harms at a record high, this is an issue we can’t ignore.’
Meanwhile Germany’s new coalition government has announced that it intends to legalise and regulate recreational use of cannabis, allowing it to be sold to adults from licensed premises. If implemented, the legislation would be evaluated after four years, says the coalition of SPD, Greens and Free Democratic Party, which will take over from Angela Merkel’s CDU party. The new government also intends to introduce drug checking and other harm reduction measures, it says.