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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Supporting people before, during and after residential rehabilitation


Our Prehab service helps people to change harmful behaviours and make healthier choices

In January 2021, the first minister announced a 'national mission' to reduce drug-related deaths and harm through improvements to treatment, recovery and other support services.

The capacity and use of residential rehabilitation is one of the five priorities set out in this mission.

At WithYou, we fully support this ethos. However, we also recognise that people accessing residential rehabilitation are often very vulnerable - and we believe that emotional and practical support is required to help them prepare for and complete their stay, and sustain their recovery once back in the community.

That’s why, with the support of Glasgow City Alcohol and Drugs Partnership and funding from the Scottish Government, we developed our Intensive Pre and Post Rehabilitation Support Service. I have to admit, while this service absolutely does what it says on the tin, it doesn’t have the catchiest of names! So, at WithYou we refer to it as our Prehab service.

This week, experts from the drug and alcohol sector visited our office in Glasgow for a panel discussion on the findings of a recent Research Scotland evaluation of this innovative service.

While the national mission is focused on measures to protect people from drug-related deaths and harm, our Prehab service is for people facing challenges around drugs and/or alcohol. In addition, we support people who are attending abstinence services (where the focus is living an alcohol and drug free life), as well as stabilisation services (where the main focus is stabilising alcohol and drug use).

One of our fantastic recovery workers, James, started the discussion by describing what a day at work looks like. He told us about helping a client to clear around 100 wine bottles out of his living room before he went into a residential rehabilitation service, so that he wasn’t faced with them after being discharged. I am so proud to have a workforce who will roll up their sleeves and do whatever it takes to support our clients.

Partnership working is intrinsic to the success of our Prehab service - from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, to the residential rehabilitation providers and the local recovery groups that help our clients to maintain positive changes. We all work together to ensure the best possible outcomes for those we support.

Two of our partners, Catriona McCabe from CrossReach and David Brockett from Phoenix Futures, took part in our panel. Catriona described the support offered by Prehab as “walking with the client from the referral point to wherever and whenever they need them after rehab” and acknowledged that the service is a “great resource for both the provider and the human being in the middle of it.”

The majority of staff at our service have personal experience of residential rehabilitation. David acknowledged that this can be very powerful: “if the client knows the key worker has walked in their shoes, they listen and see them as a role model. It also helps that the worker knows the landscape.”

The Research Scotland evaluation also identifies this as real strength: “clients mentioned that they felt less judged speaking to someone with lived experience and felt that staff were in a good position to provide advice… their WithYou Prehab worker provided a positive role model, and that they found the journeys of WithYou staff inspirational.”

I was pleased that my colleague Leigh, Prehab team leader, spoke to our guests about the importance of family support. He recognised that helping family members ultimately helps clients, and explained the support we offer to families who are often desperately worried about their loved ones.

It was a privilege to hear from two of our clients, Amanda and Neil*. Amanda, who is in her 60s, told us that she started drinking harmfully after her marriage ended. She explained the importance of residential rehabilitation services: “I decided I was going to die. I needed to go into rehab. I wouldn’t be here without rehab.”

Neil told us that he had been using drugs for around 20 years, and described his life as “chaos and carnage”. He told us that forming a strong relationship with his Prehab recovery worker really helped him.

As our event drew to a close, my colleague Fraser Hastie, director of contract delivery at WithYou, shared that while completion rates for residential rehabilitation services in Scotland can range from 40% up to more than 70%, the completion rate for those supported by our service is 83%.

There is no denying that the provision of residential rehabilitation requires significant financial investment from local authorities. Our Prehab service ensures the value of the investment and, importantly, helps people to change harmful behaviours and make healthier choices.

Going forward, I hope that, through the provision of this service, WithYou can help more people to access their choice of treatment, recover, and live happier, healthier lives.

The full Research Scotland evaluation report on the Intensive Pre and Post Residential Rehabilitation Support service is available on the new WithYou website

Since piloting the service in Glasgow, WithYou has launched services in Argyll and Bute and East Ayrshire. The charity is also a delivery partner in Dundee, the Scottish Borders and South Ayrshire.

*Not their real names

Louise Stewart is director of service delivery at WithYou.



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