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31 January 2019

Addaction welcomes decision to remove age fields from online rehab directory

Drink Wise, Age Well, a programme led by drug and alcohol charity Addaction, has welcomed a decision by Public Health England (PHE) to remove age fields from their online rehab directory.  The move should make it easier for older adults to access alcohol and drug rehabilitation services.

In 2017 Drink Wise, Age Well called for the removal of age limit restrictions in a report Calling Time: Addressing ageism and age discrimination in alcohol policy, practice and research.

Research led by University of Bedfordshire and funded by Alcohol Change UK found 75% of the 118 services listed on Rehab Online - a directory of residential rehabilitation services in England and Wales - had an upper age limit that would exclude older adults. The restrictions varied depending on the rehab but ranged from age 50 to 90.

PHE and Drink Wise, Age Well agreed that age limits on Rehab Online might be acting as an unintended barrier for older adults. The age fields have now been removed from this online resource.

While the removal of age fields is a small change, it may help older adults get specialist support sooner.

Julie Breslin, Head of Drink Wise, Age well said: “We really welcome this decision by Public Health England. It removes a potential barrier to treatment for older people. They’re a high-risk group when it comes to alcohol so we need to do everything we can to make sure the best possible treatment is available. It’s a really positive example of the difference we can make when we work together to solve a problem.”

Dr Richard Piper, Chief Executive of Alcohol Change UK said: “It's vital that older adults have full access to alcohol rehabilitation centres when requiring residential treatment. PHE's decision is a great step forward.

“It’s even more important that rehab facilities remove nominal age restrictions and any informal age discrimination so they’re genuinely welcoming to older people. We look forward to seeing these changes happen too.”

Dr Sarah Wadd, Director of the Substance Misuse and Ageing Research Team at the University of Bedfordshire said: “Everyone should have equal access to alcohol rehabs, regardless of their age.  Even a simple change like this has the potential to open up treatment to older adults and we are delighted that PHE has taken such positive action”.

Drink Wise, Age Well was established in 2014 to help people aged 50 and over make healthier choices about alcohol as they age.

Supported by the National Lottery through the Big Lottery Fund, the programme is overseen by a strategic partnership which includes: Royal Voluntary Service, Addiction NI, Drug and Alcohol Charity Wales, the University of Bedfordshire and led by Addaction. The community-based programme is delivered across five “demonstration” areas: Glasgow, Sheffield, Devon, Cwm Taf University Health Board area in Wales and the Western Health and Social Care Trust area in Northern Ireland.

Media contact

Mark Byrne | Head of Media | Addaction

T: 020 7017 2747 | M: 079 6628 7949 | E: mark.byrne@addaction.org.uk