£230k for new project to improve outcomes for patients Alcohol-Related Brain Injury

A new University of Liverpool project to help improve outcomes for patients with Alcohol-Related Brain Injury (ARBI) is to commence in January 2021 as a result of a £230K gift from The Oglesby Charitable Trust.

Alcohol Concern estimates that round 35% of the heaviest drinkers have some form of ARBI and that 10-24% of all cases of dementia are alcohol related. Crucially, it is known that with sustained abstinence this form of brain injury can be reversed. Recognition of ARBI at the earliest opportunity, therefore, is vital to provide vital medical and psychosocial care for this often-misunderstood patient group, and prevent the cycle of readmissions for increasingly complex physical and psychological harms.

Support and rehabilitation

The project is to be launched by The Liverpool Centre for Alcohol Research (LCAR), based at the University’s Institute of Translational Medicine, and will support patients with ARBI by extending the existing nurse-led early identification service within the Royal Liverpool University Hospital Trust. The project will also develop a support and rehabilitation programme for ARBI patients, with follow-up care in the community provided by specialist Occupational Therapists (OTs). OTs will aim to assess and manage all ARBI patients referred after ARBI diagnosis is confirmed, and will offer one-to-one support and guidance to colleagues to ensure continuity of high-quality care.

Previous work undertaken by LCAR has demonstrated the potential benefits of point-of-care screening which can help initiate the referral and treatment process and ultimately improve patient outcomes. Results showed that the opportunity to receive a diagnosis of ARBI was valued by patients and their carers, as well as being an invaluable clinical tool for ensuring that patients receive the right care at the right time by the right person.

Uniquely trained in both mental and physical health, OTs are well-placed to provide a ‘whole-person’ holistic approach to assessments and treatments, supporting patients to overcome barriers that may drag down their overall health and well-being. OTs are able to help educate the patient, carers and families on the effects of ARBI, whilst supporting individuals to identify triggers and develop coping strategies to overcome both the barriers and deficits with the aim of fostering long-term abstinence, recovery and resilience.

Hospital-to-home transition

The new community support and rehabilitation programme will support transition from hospital to home, with two dedicated support workers visiting patients and families at home within 48 hours of discharge to assess any issues which could result in re-admission. Support workers will sign-post and help patients and carers access relevant community services such as rehab, charity, alcohol and volunteer services.

It is hoped that through better awareness and links with the community outcomes for patients will improve. It is also hoped that by supporting patients to develop routine, structure and meaning within their lives will fill the void left by alcohol; helping individuals to develop social links will help them foster long-term resilience to alcohol.

LCAR estimates the programme will manage a caseload of 120 patients from the Liverpool Local Authority – with up to 20 patients receiving one-to-one intensive care per month.

Making a ‘real difference’

Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, Director of LCAR, Honorary Consultant Physician and Professor of Medicine, said: “We are excited at the opportunity provided through the generosity of the Oglesby Trust to make a real difference to the lives of this disadvantaged and often ignored group of patients with brain damage.

“It has been too easy to pigeon-hole them as unreliable or rejecting support when in fact their cognitive impairment has rendered them incapable of responding to conventional services. This community outreach service will be good news for patients and for Liverpool.”

Jane Oglesby, Trustee, The Oglesby Charitable Trust, said: “Alcohol addiction and its devastating impact on people, their families and communities, is an issue close to our hearts at the Oglesby Charitable Trust. It can affect families from all socioeconomic backgrounds, but as an independent factor has great relevance to the health and social inequalities that exist across our region. We are pleased to support the team at the Liverpool Centre for Alcohol Research as they trial a practical new approach for patients with Alcohol-Related Brain Injury. We look forward to the improvements we believe this can deliver, both in terms of patient health and hope for the future.”

This innovative project builds on previous work using outreach interventions in other client groups and will optimise the opportunities for building links with social services and voluntary community organisations in the Liverpool City Local Authority region. It is hoped that following the initial two-year project additional funding can be secured to allow the programme to continue.

The Oglesby Charitable Trust is an independent family Trust that supports charitable work primarily in the North of England. The Trust’s vision is for a community that is healthy, creative and self-sustaining and in which all members can participate fully

To find out more about the work of the Centre for Alcohol Research please visit https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/translational-medicine/centres/liverpool-centre-for-alcohol-research/