Elaine C Smith opens alcohol related brain damage unit

SCOTTISH actress and comedienne Elaine C Smith has officially opened a new residential unit for people with alcohol related brain damage (ARBD).

Jointly run by NHS Lothian, City of Edinburgh Council and voluntary organisation Penumbra, the specialist centre​ at Milestone, Edinburgh, is a 10-bedded unit providing care for vulnerable men and women who no longer require hospital treatment but who are not yet ready to go directly home.

This afternoon (Thursday 23rd April), Elaine was given a tour of the service and met patients and staff before officially declaring the building open.

She 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 patients 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".

Alcohol abuse can have a direct effect on brain cells and symptoms of ARBD can include impaired memory, difficultly processing new information and poor concentration and decision making. It has a good prognosis with up to 70% of sufferers showing some form of improvement with the correct support.

The Edinburgh unit provides care for patients for up to 12 weeks with a team of NHS staff including; psychiatrists, psychologists, occupational therapists, substance misuse nurses and social workers working alongside Penumbra nurses and recovery workers, to provide support and rehabilitation to residents. Patients are able to engage in a number of activities and therapy to improve their physical and mental health as well as social and life skills.

Dr. Lynn McCallum, Clinical Lead for the ARBD unit, said: “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.

“It is an excellent example of health, social care and third sector working together to improve the lives of vulnerable individuals.”

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 caused by the lengthy stay of people diagnosed with ARBD.

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

Councillor Ricky Henderson, Health, Social Care and Housing Convener, said: “Alcohol can have a devastating effect on people of all ages and from all walks of life, and it’s important that support and advice are available. I welcome this service, which is meeting a growing demand, as it will give people the help they need in a calm and safe environment.”

There are estimated to be 600 people in Lothian suffering from ARBD and around 60 patients per year are expected to be supported in the new unit.


24/04/2015