Elaine C Smith opens alcohol abuse help unit

Elaine C Smith with former service user Joe Boyle. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Elaine C Smith with former service user Joe Boyle. Picture: Ian Georgeson

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A NEW centre set to help those suffering from the brain damage caused by alcohol abuse has opened in the Capital.

The Oxgangs facility – which is jointly run by NHS Lothian, Edinburgh City Council and mental health charity Penumbra – will provide ten beds and care for vulnerable men and women who no longer require hospital treatment but are not ready to go home.

The unit was unveiled yesterday afternoon by actress and comedian Elaine C Smith – famous for portraying shambolic alcoholic Rab C Nesbitt’s put-upon wife Mary Doll – with staff providing a tour of the service and a chance to meet residents and workers involved in the project.

Elaine said: “It is always quite humbling to come along to a unit like this and see the dedication, hard work and compassion afforded to so many people who are struggling with severe alcohol-related problems.

“All too often as a society we forget the damage and devastation that this disease can cause and struggle to understand it.

“It is a privilege to meet the amazing staff and residents and to officially open this unit, which I hope will be a beacon of light across our health and support services and will contribute to all those affected having a greater chance of living a better life.”

Up to 70 per cent of those suffering the effects of alcohol abuse show improvement with the correct support.

The new centre at Milestone, Oxgangs will care for residents for up to 12 weeks with a team of NHS staff on hand to provide specialist care, including psychiatrists, nurses and social workers, as well as Penumbra nurses and recovery workers. Sufferers will be given therapy to improve their physical and mental health as well as social and life skills.

Dr Lynn McCallum, 
clinical lead for the unit, said it was an “excellent example of health, social care and third sector working together to improve the lives of vulnerable individuals”.

She added: “This new unit takes individuals out of hospital, where often they would spend prolonged periods of time, to a really supportive and stimulating environment where they can re-learn the skills necessary for daily living and, at the same time, where specialist staff are able to support their cognitive recovery.”

Graeme Henderson, director of services and development at Penumbra, said: “Penumbra Milestone is an innovative step-down unit which bridges the gap between hospital and community-based care. The service has been designed to ease the pressure on acute hospital beds.

“This joined-up approach makes the NHS more efficient and improves the care provided by drawing on the valuable range of skills in the third sector, NHS and council services.”

alistair.grant@edinburghnews.com