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Recovery Navigators evaluation project – supporting heavy drinkers towards better health

Recovery Navigator Evaluation Project – supporting heavy drinkers towards better health

Background to the project

The North East region suffers disproportionately from alcohol harms; a situation which has only worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic. People who come to emergency departments on a regular basis with alcohol problems have multiple support needs, often due to their mental ill-health. However, most have to navigate a complex health and social care system alone when trying to access help. This can be harmful for their health and mental wellbeing. These missed opportunities to provide timely support also cause significant costs to the NHS.

As part of a wider strategic response, a new Recovery Navigator role is being introduced in six NHS Trusts across the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care System (NENC ICS). Recovery Navigators provide holistic support to heavy drinking adults by addressing what matters to the person.  This can include support with housing or benefits, and crucially helping to guide care across hospitals and local communities.

This study evaluates the Recovery Navigator programme’s early delivery and aims to establish how the introduction of new roles has contributed to embedding holistic and co-ordinated alcohol care.

Project details

The study is a mixed-methods evaluation. Through analysis of linked routine health datasets, researchers will compare service use of patients with multiple alcohol-related unplanned hospital admissions who have had contact with a Recovery Navigator against those who have not. They will assess both the frequency of contact and the type of Recovery Navigators’ activity.

They will hold semi-structured interviews with patients, carers and health and social care professionals to explore experiences of receiving and delivering the service. Interview analysis and interpretation will be an iterative analysis combining reflexive thematic analysis, Normalisation Process Theory and shared sense-making sessions with PPI members.

A ‘hearts and minds’ survey will be repeated towards the end of the study. This will indicate what has happened in healthcare professional’s attitudes towards alcohol as a health problem during our study’s delivery.

The findings aim to provide evidence of whether the introduction of Recovery Navigators is making a difference to people with alcohol and mental health problems.

The insights that are gained about implementing changes in alcohol care across different environments will inform future policy and practice in the North East and North Cumbria and beyond.

Who is involved

The project has been funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Three Research Schools Mental Health Practice Evaluation Scheme.

The study is being led by researchers linked to the NIHR ARC North East and North Cumbria, based at Newcastle University.

Researchers from the University of Sunderland, University of Kent and University of Bristol are also involved.

The project also involves the North East and North Cumbria ICS, South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, North East Commissioning Support (NECS) and the Recovery College Collective.

How are patients and members of the public involved?

The study has embedded patient and public involvement (PPI) by engaging with two regional experts by experience groups; an online group with experts by experience, carers and public contributors; and having two patient and public members in the project management group’s monthly meetings.

Watch a presentation about public and patient involvement in the project

Find out more

If you have any questions about this project, please contact Emma Holland – [email protected]