CCM runs a 'Wet Clinic' every Tuesday afternoon in the Wild Goose drop-in centre, which provides support to our alcohol dependent clients. Dr. Clare Fleming helped to set up the clinic and explained to us what this service is all about...
What is a Wet Clinic?
A “dry” house is a place where alcohol and drugs are not allowed. A “wet” clinic is the opposite of this – a place where people can bring their alcohol with them. Our aim is to work with people with severe alcohol dependence who, for whatever reason, are not able to work effectively with the mainstream services.
Why is it important that they are allowed to bring in their alcohol?
Other services expect clients to be ready to make changes, but some people are not yet ready to change, or are scared of the consequences of making changes. They are out there drinking heavily, suffering lots of adverse consequences, but not knowing where to turn for support. So we offer a service where our primary goal is to engage with people in a non-judgmental setting, to build relationships without demanding change. We encourage people to come as they are; if they then decide they want to make changes then we can look at how we can help to bring about the changes they want.
When clients do engage, what other help do you offer?
We offer help on a variety of different levels. The first thing is food and healthier options of fluids – tea, coffee, water etc. The extent of severe malnutrition that exists on our streets is shocking. I often meet people who only eat once or twice a week or even less. Yet malnutrition is hidden because there are lots of calories in alcohol. People don’t necessarily lose weight, but alcohol does not contain the vitamins or minerals that we need for our brains and bodies to keep healthy.
The wet clinic in the cafe is a self-referral drop-in run by a Mental Health service professional plus experienced volunteers. Anybody who comes to the clinic can see the doctor to deal with physical issues such as prescriptions, infections, asthma etc., or they might want to talk about depression and feeling suicidal. We also provide general GP services. We can directly refer clients into hospital, to the mental health crisis team, and to other services such as Street Outreach or housing services. We very often refer people to ROADS (Recovery Oriented Alcohol & Drugs Service). ROADS provides the facilities for detox and for relapse prevention work afterwards. So a big part of what we do is to engages with people, and signpost them at the right time to other appropriate services.
The Wild Goose cafe is a lovely environment where people feel they can relax and effectively build rapport with us in many ways. The people we refer from this clinic are the most difficult to engage with in the whole of the city. Yet our audit shows figures that over 90% of those we refer to the detox service attend their first assessment and 40% complete a detox. That says a lot about the importance of our preparation work and relationship building.
Are there any common illnesses that you see amongst people who live on the streets?
Malnutrition, depression, anxiety and mental health issues.
It’s very obvious you are passionate about this work…..
It’s horribly challenging and exhausting at times. But there is nothing like the sense of euphoria that comes from helping someone in complete despair. Being a part of helping them make choices and changes to turn their lives around is a privilege.