In2Recovery- Blog Interview
by Emma Knape on 23 April 2015
How would you describe the main aims of your organisation?
(It would be great to have a paragraph outlining what you see as your main focus - feel free to sing your own praises!)
Delphi Medical is here to raise the standard of substance misuse treatment - simples. We bring a specialist knowledge of substance misuse prescribing and, due to our general practice roots and resultant community and family focus, we believe that our approach is pragmatic, safe and flexible. We have a strong governance streak that means we are firm on safety where we need to be but can be reasonable and understanding of people's life circumstances where we can. We have a strong focus on our staff and work hard to make their work lives as fulfilling as possible, promoting the five ways to wellbeing for them and thereby making it easier for them to be advocates of this for their patients. We have realised and subsequently shifted our focus to be wellbeing centred: substance misuse is a devastating illness and has massive social impact but ultimately it is not any different from any other lifestyle choice that people make and then get stuck in: ultimately it is the same journey we all make in waking up to the bad decisions we are making and doing our best to modify our behaviour to make it better for ourselves and our loved ones.
Its been a period of huge change in the sector - what challenges has this presented?
(It's been pretty tough for everyone but am really interested in how you have been impacted.)
I am a pathological optimist I am afraid and quickly move from feeling a bit sick from the challenges that have come our way to scanning to see what opportunities it has thrown up. I personally have to be careful to modify that tendency as I can be guilty of not appreciating the impact onothers (and ignoring the impact on myself). There have been challenges to the sector but I see tremendous change for the good as well. Societal attitude to drugs continues to change and conversations about drug and alcohol misuse are occurring far more often with a lot less stigma than they used to, however, I see the natural fruition of that story still some way off. Although the stigma about drug misuse is decreasing, and the realisation that alcohol use is getting out of hand is happening, it is a long way from being the important
human rights issue it should be – we are all guilty of falling into the trap of seeing drug and alcohol use as a personal foible that only the weak succumb to and then when it happens to us, or our loved ones, we find it easy to point elsewhere for the causes. As a society we definitely have a sickness in our
attitude as a whole to mind altering substances – this is the challenge, and the changes we see reflect our struggle to come to terms with it.
What developments/changes have you made as a result?
(That old chestnut - necessity is the mother of invention.)
Oh dear, my previous weird answer makes this ‘not applicable'. However, Delphi developments/changes are all about digging ever deeper, and finding better spades, with which to mine our values. Our values are Creativity, Accountability, Consistency, Accessibility, Patient Centeredness, and Sustainability. They have not failed to deliver yet and we don't expect them to fail us in the future. As I mentioned earlier our shift in focus to wellbeing is a development we have made but really it is a refinement and a realisation of what we are actually doing and how to express our values as bestwe can.
How important is lived experience of recovery in the work that you do?
(This relates to things like peer mentors etc becoming increasingly involved in service delivery.)
As I mentioned earlier I really feel that substance misuse is ultimately a human rights issue and that as a society we have a lot to learn and a ways to go. As with any human rights issue, lived experience is the only way that understanding can reach the mainstream and it takes brave individuals on both sides to reach out and bridge the gap between the two cultures that are suffering in different ways from the same sickness.
Are you aware of the term Technology Enhanced Recovery and how would you see its role in further developing services?
(This is an area of particular interest to me and Glyn etc.and encompasses things like online therapy (e.g. Breaking Free), mutual aid (SMART/Fellowships) and online recovery communities (e.g. in2recovery). I guess. I am interested in how much these tools figure in what you do at the moment and whether you think 'digital healthcare' is something you will be exploring in the future.)
I love gadgets but I have come to realise that this is not the same as being good with social media. I struggle with online communities as they do not feel genuine to me and lack certain rules that I find I hold dear. Having said that, I think I feel like that because I am old and online communities are young (as an entity). I see that the future lies this way and that the medium will mature and become something as embedded as the telephone is now. I heard recently that people used to answer the phone by saying ‘Ahoy!'
like they were on a ship or something, and I think online communities are a bit like that at the moment. Delphi, therefore, is embracing technologically enhanced recovery and we have been involved with BFO for some years now. We have also started using tablets in our interactions with patients and have even started writing some blogs…! From a medical perspective there are some really exciting digital tools coming down the line – check out the iOS app ‘Babylon' for example (no conflict of interest unfortunately). As humans the thing we are really good at, in fact so good at it that we can lie, is communication: in some respects the history of human existence is a story about increasing communication speed, distance and intellectual content and online communities are the next step in that unfolding adventure. Just don't ask me to 'like' it