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Tackling volatile substance abuse in Scotland: A training course for the social care workforce


Learning Outcomes

Following this training course, as a participant you will have had the opportunity to:

  1. Update your knowledge about the range of substances that may be misused and the possible indications of substance misuse. You will also have had the opportunity to identify sources of current information.
  2. Look at your practice so that you are alert to possible indications of substance misuse by those with whom you come into contact.
  3. Have worked through scenarios where you have had to investigate situations sufficiently to allow you to make a reasonable judgment about whether individuals are misusing substances.
  4. Review the process of obtaining specialist assistance where you are unable to make a reasonable judgment about whether individuals are misusing substances.
  5. Work through a scenario to assess the risk to individuals that may result from substance misuse and take prompt action appropriate to your assessment of risk.
  6. Review actions open to you and recording procedures in line with the legal and your organisational requirements.
  7. Look at providing information about situations and actions taken only to those entitled to receive it.
  8. Identify potential barriers to communication and to identify possible strategies for overcoming these barriers.
  9. Discuss the factors relating to solvent and volatile substance abuse.

Your work may include the following:

This pack focuses upon solvents. You may wish to supplement this pack with information about drugs, alcohol and tobacco.
Indications of substance misuse
This includes physical or behavioural evidence as well as information provided by the individual and information from other sources.
These may include actions agreed between yourself and the individual, for example exclusion from normal activities, referral to higher authority in your organisation or referral to a legal authority.

The pack aims to link into the relevant National Occupational Standards.1

Looked after children

The most recent figures show that just under 13,000 children were looked after by local authorities on 31st March 2006, an increase of 6 per cent from 2005. However that year for the first time young people aged 18 or over were included in these statistics. When the 216 young people aged 18 or over are excluded, the increase since 2005 is 5 per cent.2

Fifty-six per cent of looked after children were placed at home with parents or with friends/relatives. There were 29 per cent (3,731) in foster care and 13 per cent (1,638) were looked after in residential accommodation. This ranged from 6 per cent in Clackmannanshire to 31 per cent in Orkney.

While there has been a decline in the numbers of children in residential placements at any one time, the number of residential establishments in Scotland shows a somewhat different pattern. In the mid-1970s, there were 288 establishments, and this fell to 158 by the end of the 1980s. However, this had increased to 207 in 2002. This can be explained by the long-term decrease in the size of residential establishments; falling from an average of 25 places in the 1970s to an average of six places in 2003. The agenda for improvement in all care services has been taken forward by establishing independent, national bodies to register and inspect care services. In Scotland, the Scottish Commission for the Regulation of Care (the Care Commission) was established on 1 April 2002. The Scottish Government issued 19 volumes of National Care Standards in the spring of 2002 covering a wide range of social care services. The volumes on care homes for children and young people and school care accommodation services are the most relevant and important for residential child care (Scottish Government 2002a, b). The main principles upon which the National Care Standards are based relate to the needs of children and young people for dignity, privacy, choice, safety, realising potential, and equality and diversity.

Alongside the establishment of the Care Commission, the Scottish Social Services Council was established to regulate the workforce. It sets standards of conduct and practice for the workforce and publishes codes of practice for social services workers and their employers. It has established a register of individuals working in social work and social care and is able to discipline individuals and, ultimately, remove individuals from the register. The council also regulates education and training and approves courses. In Scotland, residential child care workers are included in the first phase of the registration process.

  1. DANOS (Drugs and Alcohol National Occupational Standards) (2004) Reviewed national occupational standards and qualifications for health and social care <> viewed November 15 2007.
  2. Scottish Executive (2006) Looked After Children 2005-06 < 554/0041493.pdf> viewed November 15 2007.