AA and Healthcare in the Community
- Healthcare Professionals
- Making Contact
- Meeting a Healthcare Professional
- Hospital/Treatment Centre Meetings
- Starting a Hospital/Treatment Centre Group
- The Responsibility of Hospital/Treatment Centre Groups
- Additional Hints
The purpose of this guidance, in conjunction with the AA Health Resource Pack, is to assistHealth Liaison Of cers (HLOs) to carry the message to the still suffering alcoholic throughco-operation with professional healthcare workers.
Intergroups and regions are responsible for the appointment of an HLO who ideally should work as a member of the local AA combined services or other appropriate committee. The HLO establishes contact and maintains communication with healthcare professionals, and reports back to intergroup and/or region.
- National Health Areas may not coincide with region or intergroup areas and it isimportant to identify where these differences occur
- The emphasis on hospital based treatment for patients with alcohol problems hasshifted to community based initiatives
- Healthcare is no longer the sole province of the health service; depending on thearea, healthcare may also include the local authority social services departments and private sector care providers
- Familiarity with the local area and a thorough knowledge of The AA Service andStructure Handbooks for Great Britain are vital to the role of HLO
6:1 Healthcare Professionals
By this we mean doctors, nurses, GPs and others whose remit includes contact with the active alcoholic. It should also include hospital and treatment centre administrators/ managers. We may also be required to talk to student health care professionals. Do not be surprised if professionals do not use the word alcoholic, and instead refer to “problem drinker”, “alcohol dependent” and “alcohol abuse” or “misuse”.
6:2 Making Contact
It may be useful together with the Public Information Officer and/or combined servicescommittee to map the healthcare professionals, hospitals, treatment centres and other healthcare providers within your area. From this information an action plan for making contact can be developed. It is important for a list of existing contacts and hospital groups to be included with your map, as their experience will be a valuable asset in developing new contacts. Teamwork is the key for this to work effectively. It is also helpful to have a list of AA members who can help give talks and send out information.
As with other external services, contact by letter or e-mail asking for an appointment is the first step with perhaps a follow up telephone call.
6:3 Meeting a Healthcare Professional
Professional workers tend to have a clear understanding of their areas of responsibility but few will understand ours. Initially our role might be that of providing information as to what AA can and cannot do, always remembering that as a Fellowship we are committed to remaining non-professional. Our approach is based on our ability as recovering alcoholics to work effectively with the still suffering alcoholic. When co-operating with professionals we should always adhere to our Traditions.
It is suggested that we:
- Are fully aware of the Traditions
- Turn up on time, suitably dressed
- Politely make ourselves known
- Take writing materials and record items relevant to our region/intergroup
- Do not engage in debates about budgets, bed shortages or any outside issues
- Never discuss individual AA members
- Do not report to non-AA committees but we can and should make AA informationfreely available
- Do not give medical advice to anyone
- Provide current times and venues of meetings, the National Telephone Servicenumber and details of AA literature
- Never commit Alcoholics Anonymous or other AAs beyond your remit or ourTraditions
Don’t be afraid to ask questions; it’s the only way to learn. Enjoy your role, safeguard the position and pass on your experience at rotation. AA has been co-operating with healthcareprofessionals for over fty years but, if the experience is new to you, make use of theexperience of other members in your area.
6:4 Hospital/Treatment Centre Meetings
There are two forms of meeting suitable for these premises. First there is the regular AA group meeting, run according to guidance outlined in the Structure Handbook chapter ‘The Group’ section 1, using the hospital/treatment centre as a venue. These meetings welcome patients being treated for alcoholism, and should be subject to Tradition Seven. Second there is the AA sponsored meeting held for in-patients. The outside sponsors attend these meetings, regularly bringing in outside speakers. These meetings are not open to AA in general nor listed in AA’s Where to Find. This second type may not be self-supporting so it may be necessary to provide refreshments and AA literature. In-patients undergo treatment for relatively short periods so the continuation of the meeting depends heavily on the outside sponsors. It is usual for these meetings to be open to allow health professionals to attend.
6:5 Starting a Hospital/Treatment Centre Group
Discuss the idea at intergroup, region and combined services meetings to establish the need and the support of local members. Experience suggests that a minimum of four AA members are required who are committed to support the group for at least one year. TheHospital Liaison Of cer and another member of the services committee should then makecontact with the hospital/treatment centre so as to discuss the form of meeting to take place on their premises.
- National Health Service hospitals function through three departments – Medical,Nursing and Administration. Ensure that each is fully informed as problems can arise when AA has contacted a person who, though helpful and understanding, may not have the necessary authority to implement the decisions or arrangements
- Courtesy and experience tell us that we cannot occupy premises without thepermission of the Administrator; that we cannot approach patients without the permission of the doctor in charge and we cannot enter a ward without thepermission of the Nursing Of cer/Charge Nurse/Ward Sister