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K5 Dr Trish Hafford-Letchfield

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Falling down: Older people and problematic substance use

Dr Trish Hafford-Letchfield

Saturday, October 17th, 2020  |  12 noon EST


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.


Dr Trish Hafford-Letchfield, EdD; MA, BA, CLTHE, PG Cert, CIPD, CQSW, SRN, SHEA

Dr Trish Hafford-Letchfield is a qualified nurse and social worker with 18 years practice experience in social work in the UK. Trish has held many roles in relation to Third Sector governance. Her research interests lie in the experiences of ageing in marginalised communities and most of her research is applied and co-produced with people with lived experience. Prior to joining the University of Strathclyde Glasgow as Professor of Social Work, Trish was Professor of Social Care at Middlesex University, London. Her doctorate studies were in educational gerontology exploring the role of lifelong learning in care services. Trish is an advocate for the rights of LGBT+ communities and was founder member of the international LGBTQI social work network. In relation to learning and teaching, she has published 18 key textbooks covering a range of topics on leadership, management, organisational development, feminism, sexual and gender identities, values and ethics, social work supervision. She has also published widely in other areas such as the use of the arts in professional education, parenting, ageing and disability.

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