An alcohol liaison service is providing a lifeline for vulnerable older people who lack awareness of their alcohol problems or do not engage with alcohol community recovery services.

Mandy Cresswell.  Picture credit: John Houlihan

The service offers brief interventions at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield, prescribing clinics, community detoxification, relapse prevention and signposting.

Lead nurse Mandy Cresswell says: ‘We have discovered that working with older patients presents a different challenge to a younger patient group and we have adapted our approach and practice to accommodate these vulnerable patients.’

A significant proportion (16%) of Spectrum Community Health CIC’s alcohol liaison service’s clients are over 65, and may have a complex range of additional vulnerabilities including mental ill health, social isolation or disability.

The service targets these clients through screening when they are admitted to hospital or present in the emergency department. They are offered a package of care that recognises it can be difficult to keep them engaged in recovery, for example they might go to the individual’s care home to see if a care plan can be put in place there.

The service maintains strong links with GPs, and has befriending services to provide home visits and aftercare. It holds daily clinics for people aged over 60s.

Guiding older patients through alcohol withdrawal can carry particular health risks because they are more likely to have reduced liver function and other complications as a result of alcohol misuse.

In some cases, a spike in drinking can be a response to life events more likely to be experienced by older people, such as retirement or bereavement. Patients experiencing these problems are offered aftercare from befriending and grief counselling services as well as treatment for their alcohol misuse.

For a significant number of older clients, this is their first contact with alcohol services. In the year from April 2015, the alcohol liaison service team enabled 39 early discharges and saved more than 210 bed days, which would have cost the NHS £600 a day.

Mandy Cresswell (left).  Picture credit: John Houlihan

The team is a finalist in the Hallmark Care Homes-sponsored Nursing Older People category of the 2016 RCNi Nurse Awards.

Mandy says: ‘The alcohol liaison service is highly delighted to be shortlisted. It is gratifying to be recognised for the hard work and quality care delivered by our service on a daily basis.

‘We are fortunate to be allowed to develop the service autonomously, helping us to identify a previously overlooked patient group.’

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Hallmark Care Homes

Hallmark Care Homes

Hallmark Care Homes is one of the leading providers of high quality, relationship-centred care, with 15 beautifully furnished care homes across England and Wales. They are dedicated to providing quality environments and high standards of care, which enable residents to live life to the full. Hallmark Care Homes employ outstanding nurses that play a vital part in their care delivery. They provide exceptional career pathways for nurses from graduation through to senior managers, which include clinical and leadership programmes. If you’re thinking of a career move, give Hallmark Care Homes a call on 01277 314191 or visit

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