Careers Careers People find work in the addictions sector through a variety of routes and for a range of different reasons. We are often asked, what are the pathways into the field, and how do you progress once you’re there. Working in the sector can be hugely rewarding. It’s not everyone who can honestly say that their work is making a real difference to people’s lives – with those people being some of the most vulnerable in our society. Addiction Professionals are working in partnership with DDN to explore the roles involved in the sector and the opportunities for career progression once you are in the field. Why work in the addictions sector? What sorts of roles are involved? Recovery/ keyworker. Keyworkers are the primary point of contact for the client, and their aim is to build a strong and trusting relationship that will form the basis of a successful treatment journey. The keyworker works with the client to formulate exactly the right care plan, and will also liaise with a range of other professionals – inside and outside the sector – to try to secure the best possible outcomes for their client across areas like housing, health, family issues and employment. There are no nationally recognised training requirements for keyworker jobs, although some services may specify a minimum necessary level of educational achievement. In community treatment settings this might be a level 3 health and social care diploma, while in residential rehab settings employers may insist on a care certificate. Some keyworkers will be former service users or volunteers themselves, while others may already have professional qualifications from other disciplines such as social work, nursing, counselling, youth work or probation. While there’s no formally recognised accreditation system for the keyworker role, there is accreditation available through Addiction Professionals and there’s also accreditation for family workers developed in partnership with Adfam. When it comes to career progression, some employers are happy to support their staff to study for vocational degrees or attain managerial qualifications, or they may encourage them to develop specialisms within the field – such as blood-borne viruses. LEARNING ON THE JOB THESE PAST 12 MONTHS working for Cranstoun have been a fantastic and insightful learning experience. When I applied for the job, I was equipped with my GCSEs, less than 12 months of experience working in mental health care, and zero experience working in a substance use setting. Within a matter of months training with Cranstoun I felt confident and knowledgeable in the field, and by the end of my trainee programme I had been awarded a level 3 NVQ in adult care and a full-time job as an engagement and recovery worker, independently managing my own caseload of over 60 clients. A typical day working as a trainee with Cranstoun is split between academic training and working on-the-job. There are a number of training sessions focused on the various elements of good practice in adult care, as well as many opportunities to engage directly with service users by developing care plans, conducting a range of tests and assessments, and assisting with their queries and concerns both in-person and over the phone. Most of my time is spent in or around our general office, where I’m surrounded by experts in the field, all of whom are willing to support and guide me in my training. To me, the most rewarding aspect of this job is having the opportunity to make a genuine impact on the lives of others, and be witness to their recovery journey first-hand. If I could change anything about the current trainee scheme, it would be to place an even greater focus on opportunities to work alongside the existing staff and support them with their duties, as it was during these experiences that I believe I learned the most about the job. The apprenticeship scheme that has been developed by Cranstoun has granted me the opportunity to go from knowingalmost nothing about this industry to being fully trained and working independently in only 12 months. I would absolutely recommend to anybody interested in a career in substance use to consider becoming a trainee with Cranstoun – it’s one of the most rewardingexperiences that you can have in this field. Liam Topping, engagement and recovery worker, Cranstoun Case study taken from Drink and Drugs News (DDN), Setpember 2022 edition Nursing role Many people choose to qualify as a nurse so they can pursue a career in addictions. There are also nurses who become interested in specialising in addictions as a result of coming into contact with people with drug or alcohol issues in their working lives. To practise as a nurse in the UK you must be registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). Nurses are required to have a nursing degree or equivalent in order to register with the NMC – there is no externally recognised addictions accreditation. Nursing gives the opportunity to work in a variety of roles within services including providing specialist interventions in physical and mental health, leading on harm reduction initiatives for bloodborne viruses, needle exchange, provision of naloxone, and support with detoxification from alcohol and/or other drugs. Some nurses choose to study at Masters level, including addictions courses, but these are open to a range of professionals and are not nurse-specific. There are a range of nurse-specific MSc courses – for example in leadership, or mental health – although there are none that focus solely on addictions. Others study to become nurse independent/supplementary prescribers and play an important role prescribing medication to those with substance problems. To do this, nurses must have one year’s post registration experience. As a Registered General Nurse with Cranstoun a significant part of my role is outreach – largely working directly on the street. This involves going into the community and getting to know the local population of individuals who use substances – often the people I meet have little or no contact with services and street inject. It’s all about meeting people where they’re at – going to the carparks, bus shelters and town streets. This engagement leads to being able to provide harm reduction interventions such as providing injecting equipment and discussing safer injecting practices. It can also lead to individuals entering Cranstoun’s treatment service. It enables conversations about people’s physical and mental health needs that have often been unaddressed for some time. Typical issues encountered include abscesses, deep vein thrombosis, leg ulcers, respiratory problems, depression and people with chronic conditions without medication. Sometimes I identify serious conditions that require urgent attention, including hospital admission which I help facilitate. In this role I’m able to advise and treat individuals for some of their conditions. On other occasions it’s about acting as a link between the individual and health services and supporting them to attend appointments and access medical treatment. Many people I encounter in this role are often described as ‘hard to reach’ or ‘non-engagers’ – I would challenge that thinking. My experience has taught me that individuals will often readily engage via the street-setting and want to access support around their health needs and the injecting equipment on offer. To be in a car park with a group of people around me waiting for antimicrobial handwipes and water for injections before leaving to use, then later returning to sit and talk through health concerns they have is satisfying. This feeling is because they’re accessing something they often wouldn’t otherwise and are starting to think about how they can be safer. I’d say that crucial to this role is being passionate, and having a commitment to meeting the people where they are and increasing access to health care. I’d love this to be a standard approach nationally to reach individuals who services are currently not accessing. Susan McCutcheon Advanced Nurse Practitioner JOBS Job adverts are listed in the Jobs section on our website for two months for a flat fee of £200 per advert. The adverts can include downloadable PDF documents e.g. job description. Job adverts are advertised on the website and also via our networks, our Twitter feed and LinkedIn account. Job adverts have all been submitted by third parties and AP is not responsible for the accuracy or timeliness of the advertisements. If you would like to place a job advert here, please contact us. CURATOR/ EDITOR ADDICTION PROFESSIONALS CLINICAL UPDATEFreelance position, 2 sessions per Update at £200 per session. ADDICTION PROFESSIONALS TRUSTEE TREASURER OPPORTUNITYThe registered charity SMMGP (incorporating FDAP), is keen to recruit a Trustee to join the Board as our Treasurer. For more job opportunites, please visit DDN.