The Quality Principles: Standard Expectations of Care and Support in Drug and Alcohol Services

The Quality Principles: Standard Expectations of Care and Support in Drug and Alcohol

Services have been developed to ensure anyone looking to address their problem drug

and/or alcohol use receives high-quality treatment and support that assists long-term,

sustained recovery and keeps them safe from harm.

The Quality Principles

These Quality Principles have been laid out as a journey, beginning with access to services leading on to assessment, recovery planning, review and beyond. No one Quality Principle is more important than another.

1. You should be able to quickly access the right drug or alcohol service that keeps you safe and supports you throughout your recovery.

  • The majority of people should wait no longer than three weeks from referral received to appropriate drug or alcohol treatment that supports their recovery.
  • Nobody should wait longer than six weeks to receive appropriate treatment and support. If you are experiencing a wait that is approaching six weeks, contact your referring agency or local Alcohol and Drugs Partnership[3].

2. You should be offered high-quality, evidence-informed treatment, care and support interventions which reduce harm and empower you in your recovery.

  • You should be treated fairly and equally, with respect and dignity, as a person able to make your own choices.
  • You should be able to easily access safe, secure and comfortable surroundings when engaging with the service.
  • The choice of interventions should be based on the best available evidence and agreed guidance.
  • You should have access to a range of recovery models and therapies which should help improve different areas of your life and move forward at your own pace.
  • You should have access to harm reduction advice which might include safer use, managed use and abstinence.
  • With your agreement, your information may be shared with other services and it should be made clear to you when this might happen without your agreement.

3. You should be supported by workers who have the right attitudes, values, training and supervision throughout your recovery journey.

  • Workers should be welcoming, work in a person-centred way and believe in your ability to change and recover.
  • Workers should provide timely, evidence-informed treatment and support that is right for you.
  • Workers should provide support that is trauma-informed and recognise any current or previous trauma you are dealing with.
  • Workers should provide you with harm reduction advice, this may include safer use, managed use and abstinence.
  • Workers should support you to set your own recovery goals and to manage your own care and support.
  • Workers should talk to you about plans and arrangements for you moving through the service and/or reducing/ending your current contact with the service.
  • Workers should encourage and help you to connect with a recovery community or mutual aid group.

4. You should be involved in a full, strength-based assessment that ensures the choice of recovery model and therapy is based on your needs and aspirations.

  • Your assessment should be based on your strengths, taking account of your recovery capital.
  • Your assessment should be done in a sensitive and supportive way.
  • Your assessment should identify any traumatic events in your life which may have affected you.
  • You should be told about the range of treatment options available to you.
  • Your views should be listened to and used to develop your personal recovery plan.
  • Assessment is part of an ongoing process and could be carried out over more than one session. This should not be a barrier to accessing services quickly.
  • You should be told about the reasons for, and benefits of, your worker recording information about your recovery journey on local and national data systems. With your consent, your information may be shared with other services and it should be made clear to you when this might be done without your permission.

5. You should have a recovery plan that is person-centred and addresses your broader health, care and social needs, and maintains a focus on your safety throughout your recovery journey.

  • Your recovery plan belongs to you; the actions laid out in it are achieved in partnership between you and services.
  • Your recovery plan should be reviewed regularly, at a time agreed between you and your worker.
  • Your recovery plan should include information on reducing harm.
  • Recovery plans should aim for stable recovery beyond treatment into aftercare.
  • Recovery plans should detail further services you may need to access as part of your progression through treatment and care back to the wider community.
  • Recovery plans should look towards you moving on from the service, in line with your aspirations, at a time agreed by you and your case worker. Support for this should include relapse prevention advice and assertive engagement with a local mutual aid group or recovery community.
  • If you relapse you should be treated with the dignity and respect that welcomes your continued effort to achieve your recovery goals.
  • You should be offered a copy of your recovery plan.

6. You should be involved in regular reviews of your recovery plan to ensure it continues to meet your needs and aspirations.

  • Your review should include an assessment of your strengths and recovery capital.
  • Your review should include an assessment of the effectiveness of your current treatment to help you achieve your recovery goals.
  • As you progress on your recovery journey, your personal plan should be reviewed to reflect the changes in your situation.
  • Improving your situation should involve discussing areas in your life such as your aspirations for the future, wider health needs, family, children, finances, education, employment and housing, and the services or supports which could help you achieve these.
  • If you need to, you should be supported to access wraparound services such as housing, volunteering, employment etc. Providers of these services should treat you with dignity and in a non-discriminatory way.

7. You should have the opportunity to be involved in an ongoing evaluation of the delivery of services at each stage of your recovery.

  • You should have the opportunity to have your say in how services are delivered.
  • You should be told about your responsibilities and what you can expect from the service (supported by the Recovery Philosophy).
  • You should be told about how to complain if you are unhappy with the service.
  • You should be told about independent advocacy services that can help you be heard.

8. Services should be family inclusive as part of their practice.

  • Family can mean those people who play a significant role in your life.
  • Family members can only be involved in your recovery journey if you want them to be.
  • You may want to involve other people who can support your recovery. The service should encourage and help you to do this.
  • The service should help you minimise the impact that your drug or alcohol use may have on those around you.
  • If you have children, their needs and wellbeing will be a primary concern.
  • The service should be aware of the needs of members of your family and those you live with and, if needed, seek support for them.


Email: Hilary Smith

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