This project signifies a shift in the approach to service provision for individuals and families affected by substance misuse. It was set up following a comprehensive review of alcohol and drugs issues in Dundee which involved service users, carers, service providers and local communities. Since its inception, the project has made it possible for individuals and families to access joined-up services and support without being stigmatised, all from one community location. It has successfully engaged and maintained contact with vulnerable and hard to reach individuals and made great progress at developing recovery-focused services.
The Community Hub was developed to respond to stigma experienced by individuals and families affected by substance misuse, to ensure support and interventions are easily accessible and to respond directly to the presented needs. In addition, the virtual team was set up to achieve high level and effective collaboration (including from Boots Pharmacy staff) and to ensure effective focus on customers.
The process of recovery from substance misuse requires a range of different services, skills and approaches. If provided in isolation and in a non-coordinated way, these services can often be ineffective, duplicative and difficult to access. The Community Hub in Albert St integrates treatment services (including ORT prescribing / harm reduction) together with services for children and all the other support which individuals and families require to achieve recovery and well-being. Service users, carers and community members took part in a focus group / conference as part of the Alcohol and Drugs Review, and their experience of the impact of services and their views on improvements required directly influenced the development of the Community Hub. Service users told us they would like to access services that are non-stigmatising, that support them to take responsibility for their own recovery, that include their families’ needs and that work together from the one location. The Community Hub was set up to achieve these requirements, and has delivered.
Development of the Hub was co-ordinated by the Alcohol and Drug Partnership Support Team, who liaised with all partners to progress the initiative. Two staff members (from the NHS and a voluntary agency) led the operational side of the development. Each organisation identified one or two staff members to be part of the virtual team, with staff selected for their skills, interests and willingness to participate. Negotiations took place with Boots Pharmacy regarding the use of their premises and working jointly with their staff.
The barriers overcome included resistance from organisations (arguing they were too busy to participate) and resistance from staff (concerned about working in a new way and from a different environment without being clear of their role). Also, at the initial stages, some service users refused to co-operate with the team, as they thought they were being ‘spied on’ and were suspicious of receiving services from the Hub. However, with time, service users began to see the benefits and engage successfully.
More recently a Hub coordinator has been brought in to continue to build on the early success of the project and to support the moving forward and development of the initiative. There is continual interest from both specialist and non-specialist services to become part of the Community Hub team. This is widening the support, knowledge and resources being offered to individuals, families and community affected by substance misuse.