The alcohol and drug treatment sector is an essential and highly valued element of our national response to the risk presented by COVID-19. Providing services for those who are at increased risk of becoming infected and/or infecting others whilst simultaneously reducing the burden on health, social and justice services. As we currently know very little about how COVID-19 intersects with the alcohol and drug treatment sector, or, how practitioners and service users navigate a treatment landscape that is changing in nature, scope and capacity, Dr Helena Gosling from Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) and Phoenix Futures are working together to contribute to the development of an evidence-base that will document how residential alcohol and drug treatment services respond to, and indeed, learn from COVID-19.
We have adapted to the pandemic to provide a safe place for people who would otherwise be at risk in their communities. It will be fascinating to see what we can learn about through this research to better protect some of the most vulnerable people in our society.
James Armstrong, Director of Marketing and Innovation for Phoenix Futures
Efforts to capture the impact of COVID-19 on residential drug treatment services began in June 2020 when Helena and Phoenix Futures launched a pilot project, across four residential services in England and Scotland, to capture how they were responding to the initial threat of the ongoing pandemic. Staff and residents were invited to participate in monthly questionnaires so that we could generate a grounded, practice-orientated insight into the issues facing practitioners and service users on a day-to-day basis. To build on this preliminary work, on the 30th November we will launch a longitudinal project to further explore how staff and residents continue to respond and learn from COVID-19. Since the project began, Helena has joined a multidisciplinary crisis and pandemic interest group (led by Dr Mark Forshaw) that aims to inform policy, behaviour and the debate around pandemics and crises, from a psychosocial evidence-based perspective. In addition, Connie Pike, a MA Criminal Justice student from LJMU, will be working alongside Helena, as a research assistant. This is the second project that Phoenix Futures and LJMU have embarked upon since the launch of our research partnership[GH1] in September 2020, so we are very much looking forward to working together over the forthcoming months.
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