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Alcohol Change UK has published a really useful report which reviewed 11 Safeguarding Adult Reviews published in 2017 in which alcohol was identified as a significant factor in the person’s life and/or death. The aim was to better understand the role that alcohol plays in those situations where vulnerable adults die; and to draw out essential lessons that may prevent similar tragedies from being repeated.
Alcohol Change UK's report highlights when vulnerable adults with complex needs also have severe alcohol problems, their drinking is often being missed or poorly managed putting them at further risk of harm. In extreme cases, the failure to properly address the alcohol problem can mean that the other support interventions fail, leading to the person’s death.
The report charts the stories of people who died in the most tragic of circumstances at a time when they were at their most vulnerable.
Although many of these people had dozens or even hundreds of interactions with social workers, paramedics, GPs, police, A&E departments and others, the professional working with them had not received adequate training to identify and address the alcohol elements of the situation. This meant that risks posed by alcohol were missed, under-estimated or poorly managed. In some circumstances, alcohol-dependency and self-neglect were treated as a ‘lifestyle choice’. This led to further barriers in the care of these people – or even the withdrawal of care; and ultimately their deaths.