Equinox’s residential alcohol treatment service staff at Aspinden Wood are on a mission to make sure every resident becomes stronger, happier and healthier.
W: www.equinoxcare.org.uk T: 020 3668 9270
Aspinden Wood Centre (AWC) is a residential drug treatment home supporting service users with alcohol misuse. With a staff team that is committed to a harm minimisation model AWC is moving forward by recognising people’s choice to drink, while providing a safe and secure home.
Based in Bermondsey, south east London, we are a unique service in a vibrant part of London and are working hard to make our mark by delivering the best quality of care that we can. At AWC we support up to 26 men and women who are alcohol dependent and living with a range of personal care and support needs.
So what exactly is harm minimisation at AWC, and how do we get our service users to see that reducing the harm of alcohol on their life is a good thing?
We believe that there is not just one method of harm minimisation but that the success of the model here is based on a holistic approach of recovery that creates an intrinsic desire within our service users to accept help, know that things can change, and learn new associations with alcohol. Many of our service users have been through the cycle of detox and rehab several times and are disillusioned with services.
As with any workplace, Equinox residential alcohol treatment staff team experience highs and lows. Everyday working life at AWC consists of alcohol misuse support, mental health support, personal care, meal support, agony aunts, joke tellers and just about anything else that works towards enriching the lives of our service users. The friendly conversations and recovery milestones are sometimes paired with challenging behaviours and emotional distress. Although there are many positives throughout the day, alcohol is still a part of everyday life at AWC that this can make things unpredictable.
Our aim is to work with service users using an approach of person-centred care and investing in a psychologically informed environment (PIE).
PIE frameworks and methods allow us to reach our service users on a deeper level by considering their psychological backgrounds and trauma, which can shape and mould their choices today. Introducing PIE to service users definitely brought about a few sceptical laughs and puzzled looks to begin with, but eventually service users came on board.
Our newly adopted PIE scheme seeped into all areas of the service – physical changes to buildings have taken place to create open and neutral spaces, while the language during keyworking sessions has evolved to be more understanding of strong reactions to certain topics of discussion. For service users, the use of PIE has been a positive change that has been reflected in a calmer atmosphere around the service.
There are many work ethics that make the cogs turn at AWC. Patience, problem solving, team working and compromise are all day to day features on the ground here, but none can be more important than promoting motivation. Our service user group can struggle with motivation after many years street homeless or just stumbling through life, and suddenly finding the motivation for daily activities can be very difficult. This can be frustrating for a hard working team that sees so much potential in each one of the individuals that live here, but somehow a combination of commitment, passion, excellent training and ultimately a team of good people led by a focused and hardworking manager has come together to create a motivation machine.
At every hurdle there is a team here that won’t give up, and 2019 for all at AWC has been coined as The Year of Empowerment. This movement embodies the drive that staff have to see every single service user thrive and become stronger, more independent, happier and healthier than they were when they first arrived.
When we work with service users it is important to us that they feel respected in what recovery means to them. At AWC all achievements are celebrated, whether they are as big as mending broken relationships with family members to a service user taking leadership on their breakfast for the day. Working with such a marginalised group as we do at AWC means that we do not take any of the small things for granted.
AWC is part of a wider group of services and teams dedicated to care and support known as The Social Interest Group. The advantages for AWC service users and staff of existing within the group is a wealth of knowledge, experience and support across the companies.
Our closest neighbours, Brook Drives in Elephant and Castle and Southampton Way in Camberwell, are a short hop away and always at the end of the phone for support and advice.