Older adults cut drinking in half with Cwm Taf-based programme

Posted 04.04.2019

People who took part in Cwm Taf’s Drink Wise, Age Well programme cut the average amount of alcohol they drink on a typical day in half from 16 units to 8. The average number of drinking days in the last 28 days also decreased from 20 at assessment to 15 at discharge.

The National Lottery Community funded programme was first established in 2015 in response to 1increasing alcohol harm in the over 50s, with initial research showing that older adults were facing particular challenges when trying to get help for alcohol problems.

The new data also shows how many of the programme participants struggled with isolation and loneliness, with 90% of people surveyed drinking mainly at home alone. The most common reason older adults in Cwm Taf gave for increasing their drinking was bereavement followed by relationship problems and unemployment.

The programme has reached out to the over 50s via workplaces, rugby clubs, community groups and health and social care providers along with running regular health promotion campaigns.

Drink Wise, Age Well Cwm Taf Locality Manager, Richard Broadway said, “We have reached a huge number of people aged over 50 across Cwm Taf, many through our prevention and alcohol awareness work. We have also directly supported nearly 500 people to reduce their drinking, together with their families. And many more have participated in our resilience activities, or have moved on to become volunteers, as we believe it ‘s not just about treating the alcohol problem, but exploring ways to support people in their communities.”

Drink Wise, Age Well Cwm Taf is now into its final year of operation (until March 2020) but it is hoped that the most effective elements of the programme will carry on through being embedded in general alcohol services, or, where required, the development of age-specific services. The programme has also provided clear testimony to community empowerment, with Cwm Taf running a range of support groups and social activities for the over 50s that could become self-sustaining.

Richard Broadway added, “Alcohol use and harm is increasing in our older population and it is crucial that we have a targeted approach to this. Whilst ensuring that alcohol treatment and support is accessible to people of all ages, it is also important to explore the underlying reasons for drinking including isolation and life transitions. The holistic approach of our programme has allowed us to address the problem while working with people to build their own resilience and connections within their communities.”