Falling down: Older people and problematic substance use

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk


There is growing evidence of the need for better identification and interventions for people with problematic alcohol use in later life. The issues arising from older people’s unique needs and circumstances call for greater attention to the lack of tailored service provision and preventative approaches, challenges in managing care in situations of enormous complexity and not least the lack of systematic training of care professionals and development of coherent guidance, resources and tools to support their practice. This presentation shares findings from our research about what we have learned that might help to shift ageist cultures in care services and in developing a more coherent model of policy, practice and education in the field of ageing and problematic substance use. We pay particular attention to the social work and social care workforce who are key players in in the prevention of alcohol-related harm, harm reduction and in the provision of personal care, safeguarding and other community based services to older people. I will draw on three key sources to illustrate some of the challenges and benefits of learning to learn together to promote better integration and tailored support. These include 1) findings from focus groups with 37 practitioners in England working directly with older people in the community; 2) Key themes from a systematic review of community based interventions with older people with problematic substance use and 3) an snapshot from the evaluation of the views and perspectives of 795 active learners who attended our international virtual learning programme ‘Falling Down’ – problematic substance use in later life in 2018-19. Data from these sources will be synthesised to highlight the urgent need for increasing awareness and providing additive approaches in the day-to-day delivery of care services. There is also a need for more transformative practice that challenges ageism, increases collaboration and not least, engages with the voices of older people themselves.
Period17 Oct 2020
Event titleInternational Nurses Society on Addiction: 2020 Vision: Year of the Addiction Nurse
Event typeConference
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Ageing
  • Problematic Substance Use
  • Later Life
  • Interventions