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New and different addiction treatment model comes to life

Posted by Mike Delaney
on 07 Sep 2020


As Clinical Director I have spent the last two years working very closely with Martin Preston, Founder here at Delamere, to slowly and painstakingly bring a brave vision of a completely new and different treatment model to the world of addiction. Together we have crafted a new and exciting programme which isn’t based in shame and guilt, or therapeutic duties, or peer-evaluations or family letters being read out in front of groups of people, or people being forced into engaging in stressful and frightening situations when they are feeling frightened and vulnerable.

Clients report feeling safe and supported at addiction clinic

We train our staff in the use of Clean Language so that they become aware of the “agenda” which certain words and phrases generate and how they can negatively impact on a person’s ability to feel safe and to engage with the painful work which is required when facing an addiction.

We celebrate a guest’s decision to come into treatment and welcome admissions with compassion and empathy, reassuring them at every step of their journey.

We show guests to their beautiful accommodation and let them rest. Addiction is extremely exhausting both physically and emotionally and we acknowledge this fact. Our skilled and experienced Medical and Nursing team assess and prescribe a safe and comfortable detoxification regime in consultation with the guest and this is reviewed on an ongoing basis.

High standards of care and compassion

The standards of care and compassion shown has been astounding in all areas. Therapists who are not afraid of the word Trauma and who effectively work with whatever issues emerge during their stay. Never before in over 20yrs of rehab work have I heard so many people say “I feel safe” when asked how they are settling in. This is a testament to the atmosphere of love, support and compassion which is evident from the moment people arrive at the doors.

The Medical and Nursing team are highly skilled and knowledgeable in a wide range of procedures and also provide one to one sessions around health and well being for each guest.

They are supported by an enthusiastic and skilled team of Health Care Assistants who also provide group sessions, educational sessions and eco-therapy to name a few. Seldom have I seen such motivation and dedication among a team.

The Admissions Team work hard in the background, not simply to fill the beds but to ensure that Delamere is the right place and that a new guest will “fit-in” with the community and will not disrupt treatment for other guests, not always an easy task!

Martin takes an active role as CEO and Registered Manager and does so calmly and professionally despite the intense pressure associated with introducing something ground breaking.

Quietly and in the background, Mandy and Anthony manage the office.  Salaries, HR and the technologies involved in making our programme smooth and personal. Bravo!

Finally, the kitchen and housekeeping team do an absolutely amazing job of feeding our guests a varied and healthy diet with several choices available at each meal and in hygienically cleaned surroundings. Our guests spend a lot of time chatting to these guys and they are an integral part of the whole team.

No place for shaming in addiction treatment

Stop.Start.Grow, our model,  has had all of the shaming language and attitude removed. Completely. 

The three programme modules, Stop, Start and Grow are completely separate from each other and guests transition to each phase when they are ready and their care team are happy that they have covered the necessary educational and therapeutic components within each module.

When we say “No two guests should have the same treatment experience” we mean it and we work very hard to ensure that this is the case. It takes more resources and logistical planning, but within a very short space of time we have managed to achieve what most providers dream of. A truly individualised and person-centred approach to treatment.

“No two guests should have the same treatment experience”

Mike Delaney

Nature based activities, equine, art and ecotherapy – all part of Delamere programme

The programme is responsive and exciting for guests and includes more than handouts and assignments. It is about re-connecting in healthy ways and includes a high-quality equine facilitated psychotherapy experience as well as art therapy, yoga, ecotherapy and other nature-based activities. We have themed psycho-education days where the topics are carried on throughout the day and guests are given an opportunity to really understand their feelings. These days can often end with a ceremony outdoors where the feelings or experiences can be “let go” in a powerful but healthy way. Our guests have benefited greatly from these themed days since I have been here and our staff have become confident in facilitating them.

Each guest attends their own Clinical Review every week with their lead Nurse and Therapist present so that they can say whatever they feel about their experiences and what they feel they would like to do next. All of these discussions and objectives are written down in Kipu, our operating system and the guest e-signs to say that they agree. There is no pressure to undertake work which they do not feel able to do and they have as much support as they need to reach the goals. I have never seen this level of transparency and consultation in any other service.

Graduation ceremonies are a joyful and emotional part of the programme and guests are encouraged to use any medium they like, in order to celebrate their achievements. Many guests have presented artwork, music or film-clips to communicate the information they wish to share. They are greeted with inspiration and enthusiasm from those guests who still have more to do.

Proof that a new approach was needed in addiction therapy

As Clinical Director, I am currently in the last few weeks of a 12 week, full-time placement where I have been working with the team to broaden their skills and confidence and to identify areas where we could do better. It has been a very humbling experience to see such passion and dedication from so many people who had never worked in addiction treatment before. Indeed, instead of this creating problems, their lack of long-term experience has enhanced what we were trying to achieve as they have been hungry for learning and so they jump at every challenge thrown at them. 

The last 12 weeks have shown me that, if you believe there is a better way, even when people around you warn you not to change things which aren’t broken, follow your instincts and make things better for the next generations of people who need help. The days of rigid rules and often unnecessarily harsh consequences for non-compliance have no place in a modern treatment landscape. We understand so much more therefore we should, as professionals, do much better.

I am confident that Delamere has created and captured something very special and that the future of addiction and mental health treatment in the UK just got a whole lot better!

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About the author: Mike Delaney

Mike crafted our innovative and person centred approach to addiction treatment. Mike’s experience in the addiction treatment sector encompasses his work as a nurse, psychotherapist and Chief Executive.




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