These are truly exceptional times the ‘whole world’ is currently living in.

The ‘new’ normal involves major restrictions on daily living and these regulations are in a constant state of flux.

A ‘new’ fear has seeped its way into the conscious of every-day people asking for a change in lifestyle, in order to create, a safe living environment for the population of the UK.This ‘new’ fear has increased feelings of anxiety and low mood amongst large scale groups and in particular those who use alcohol and/or drugs.

Although no statistics have been ascertained, media is reporting an uptake in the intake of such substances as a knee jerk reaction to this feeling of foreboding.

Drug and alcohol intake are on the rise and the use of these substances is going almost ‘undercover’ as the right to socialise has been removed or somewhat diminished.

Abbeycare recognises this trend and are ready to provide and support those requiring residential treatment to eliminate the use of these substances and provide recovery in such uncertain times.

Factors that lead to increased use of alcohol & drugs – Covid-19

There are many recognised factors that lead to an increase in the use of substances, feelings and emotions are heightened as the country works to adapt to the current situation.

Support networks have diminished, and social activities have been stopped or greatly reduced. Feelings of loneliness, isolation have increased. Many feel trapped in their own homes. Turning to a mood- and mind-altering substance to escape reality.

Below are some of the many triggers to drug or alcohol use:

  • Stress & Anxiety
  • Feeling like you have no control
  • Low mood/depression
  • Financial Insecurity
  • Job losses
  • Relationship problems (family home and wider circle)
  • Tensions at work or home
  • Isolation
  • loneliness
  • Reduced support network
  • Inability to socialise and have fun
  • Recreational activities placed on hold
  • Physical health problems
  • Mental health problems
  • Community support services disrupted

The above factors are all listed as the new ‘normal.’ Yes ‘normal.’ In a reaction to the above factors those with alcohol or drug issues, in some cases, will use or try to use more.

Unfortunately, this increases dependence on the substance and the participant feels trapped. As all community resources and activities once participated in have ground to a halt – isolation becomes the ‘new’ normal.

Alcohol or drugs become the ‘new’ best friend. But there is a solution!

Treatment in Abbeycare – During Covid-19

Abbeycare has and always will endeavour to deliver the highest level of care to all its residential rehab participants. The word participant is used as Abbeycare intends those on the rehab programme to feel like an ‘active participant’ of care and not a ‘passive recipient.’

The programme at Abbeycare is a Therapeutic Programme. This means a range of therapeutic services are provided to the resident to promote recovery and treat the underlying symptoms of addiction.

The programme on offer provides;

  • a thorough assessment of needs
  • an appropriate detox from a highly skilled medical professional
  • daily group work therapy – see CBT, 12 Steps (hyperlink)
  • a holistic programme that focusses on physical and psychological care
  • walking groups (where appropriate)
  • a balanced and nutritious menu to strengthen and rebuild
  • a safe environment to recover in away from potential coronavirus transmission
  • a team specialised in identify specific support needs
  • support with mental health issues in conjunction with named workers
  • a new way of living free alcohol or drugs
  • an 18-month aftercare programme

This programme has been shown to deliver results to those suffering long term addictions and pave the path of recovery. If followed obsession to use alcohol or drugs can be lifted and a new, happier way of living can be commenced.

Abbeycares response to Covid-19

Abbeycare is committed to providing a safe and ‘recovery orientated’ service for those wanting to access residential treatment, at all times, and in particular during Covid-19.

As Abbeycare is governed by The Care Commission for Scotland and The Quality Care Commission of England the strictest of measures have been implemented to ensure the safety of all are being met.

Abbeycare will continue to take ongoing guidance from local government and implement new protocols and procedures in-line with this guidance.

Abbeycare aims to:

  • Ensure the virus does not enter either venue
  • Protect residents during their stay and stop the spread of the virus
  • Protect family members or loved ones of residents
  • Provide a safe working environment for all members of staff
  • Create an atmosphere of recovery

The safety of residents and employees is the priority of Abbeycare.

Referral, Admission, Discharge at Abbeycare throughout Covid-19

  • The referral process during Covid-19:

Abbeycare has a team of Admissions Officers committed to the safe entrance of residents into each one of its two rehab facilities.

Referrals are made via phone 01603 513 091 and anybody can make a referral. However, if making a referral for someone else the team will want to speak to the referee to ensure they are committed to rehabilitation and to take a telephone assessment.

Referral steps:

  • Call or email Abbeycare Admissions helpline 01603 513 091 or email in**@ab*******.uk
  • Undergo a telephone assessment with potential new resident and Admissions Team (inclusive of Covid-19 Screening Questions)
  • Secure a Medical Summary Report from your GP (requested via fax)
  • Give new residents a start date and time for entering one of Abbeycare’s rehab units and beginning detox
  • Admissions protocols:

On admission the resident will need to self-isolate for one week. This is to ensure a late presentation of symptoms are contained in safely. Residents will still receive 24-hour care during this period and their detox medication and meals will be delivered to their room.

After one week, if the resident has no Covid-19 presenting symptoms, then they will join the rest of the residents to begin a therapeutic programme.

These two stages will be followed:

Stage 1 – 7 Days Isolation (all care delivered in residents’ room)

Stage 2 – Day 8 and onwards – integration into Therapeutic Programme

Stage 1 will be implemented as follows:

  • New residents enter via side entrance full PPE (hand sanitiser, gloves, aprons, masks) required by both resident and allocations officer – PPE provided by Abbeycare
  • Temperature taken. If above recommended guidelines participant can-not enter the building – admission will be placed on-hold until a negative Covid-19 result is achieved.
  • Further assessment undertaken
  • Allocation of single room with Smart TV for Virtual Groups
  • If appropriate Addiction Specialist Doctor begins Detox Programme
  • Hourly observations by qualified member of staff
  • Detox medication and meals delivered to room for first 7 days
  • Temperature taken twice daily for first 7 days
  • Fortnightly Covid-19 tests for residents
  • Weekly Covid-19 Tests for staff

Stage 2 will be implemented as follows:

  • If all temperature checks are successful entrance to the therapeutic programme will begin on Day 8
  • If no Covid-19 positive results are taken entrance to the programme and introduction to peer group will go ahead on Day 8
  • Groups will now be delivered in a socially distanced group room
  • Meals will be eaten in a socially distanced dining area
  • Discharges from Abbeycare:

On Discharge the resident will undergo checks by trained staff to ensure they are returning home safely. It is not anticipated a resident will become unwell at discharge stage, but every precaution will be taken to ensure the virus will not be transmitted to others.

Discharge Procedures:

  • Covid-19 test undertaken
  • Ensure Track & Trace App is downloaded on phone
  • Named person informed of discharge and safe routes home discussed
  • Discharge Information pack including Aftercare package and useful telephone numbers prepared for take home use

*Early self-discharge – in the unlikely event of early self-discharge all the above Discharge Procedures are followed in addition to these a named person is contacted i.e. husband, wife, daughter, son… The named GP is contacted and any other relevant professionals responsible for the ongoing care of resident.

Visiting residents at Abbeycare during Covid-19

Abbeycare is currently operating a No-Visitor Policy. This policy will not allow family members or loved ones to visit any of Abbeycare’s facilities to ensure the safety of both parties.

All staff are being tested weekly and Abbeycare is placing the safety of all entering the building as top priority.

Residents can have access to their own Smart Phones and tablets and can talk to loved ones via these devices.

In addition, swim/sauna sessions have had to be discontinued at this point but have been replaced with walking groups (where appropriate) and meditation sessions.

Family and loved one’s support during Covid-19

Named persons are given a security code and can phone the rehab for advice and information on their loved one’s progress.

Family support groups are being delivered weekly virtually by a highly skilled addiction recovery specialist.

As residents have their own phones family members can also call their loved ones to check on their progress and welfare.

Frequently asked questions

I have symptoms but have not been tested what should I do?

If symptoms have begun contact NHS 111 and call Abbeycare to update the staff team with any concerns. Staff will talk the through procedures to follow and access to rehab will be granted on production of a negative Covid-19 test.

Do you test new residents before entrance?

New residents’ temperature is taken before entrance into their specially adapted rooms. If a temperature shows high procedures will be followed to have the resident tested and if appropriate safely transported home to quarantine before entrance.

Do you test residents before discharge?

Residents will be tested fortnightly in the rehab facility. The Track and Trace App will be downloaded on phones, laptops or tablets before discharge to ensure everybody’s safety is still considered post-rehab.

What will happen to the Aftercare Programme on offer at Abbey care?

The Aftercare Programme on offer at Abbeycare will still be followed but meetings will be virtually as will community groups. Residents will be given an Aftercare Programme to follow before discharge.

What’s the up to date information on Covid-19?

Abbeycare is following up to date government guidance on Covid-19. Full PPE is worn by staff in contact with residents and screens have been fitted in relevant areas.

Abbeycare is also working closely with Public Health England, Public Health Scotland, The Care Commission – Scotland and The Care Quality Commission – England to implement current and accurate policy and procedures.

Residents and family members will be updated immediately with any relevant changes.

What if someone carries the virus into the building?

Only essential workers are allowed into the facilities and these workers will be wearing full PPE throughout their shift, will be temperature tested daily and Covid-19 tested weekly.

If a staff member becomes unwell, they will not be allowed to return to work until a negative Covid-19 test is produced or they have quarantined for the set amount of time in line with current government guidance.

All deliveries will be delivered out-with the building to ensure no cross contamination from members of the general public

I am worried about my mental health and wellbeing during Covid-19 who can support me?

Abbeycare delivers a holistic programme and works towards a whole person approach.

Therapeutic groups and 121 sessions are delivered daily working to support both recovery and mental health.

Abbeycare works closely with the full cohort of professionals involved in an individual’s care and will update any mental health professionals, were applicable, with a resident’s progress.

Abbeycare endeavours to provide the highest quality of care during these uncertain times. A thorough and robust risk assessment has been carried out on all our facilities and every area from referral to discharge has been considered.

We will continue to follow government guidelines and react appropriately as new guidance is outlined.

The safety of all our residents and highly dedicated staff team will not be compromised as we work hard to deliver a therapeutic and life changing programme to all who choose to access support within our rehab facilities.

Recovery is possible even during these uncertain times. Arguably even more important during this time and an area that can be controlled with appropriate support, safety and rehabilitation.

If you have any queries or question about Abbeycare’s response to Covid-19 please call the Admissions Team on 01603 513 091 or email in**@ab*******.uk

If you visualise yourself free from alcohol and drugs living a happy and productive life and feel secure in the knowledge that at Abbeycare we consider your safety as our utmost priority…

And wish to learn more about our Addiction Treatment call our free 24/7 Helpline on 01603 513 091 or fill out the form below to speak to a trained addiction counsellor.

About the author

Laura Morris

Laura Morris is an experienced clinical practitioner and CQC Registered Manager with over twenty years experience, over ten of which have been as an Independent Nurse Prescriber.

She has held a number of senior leadership roles in the substance use and mental health sector in the NHS, the prison service and in leading social enterprises in the field.