Tilda Goldberg Centre

Contact the TGC

The Tilda Goldberg Centre
Room B401, Park Square building
University of Bedfordshire
University Square
Luton, LU1 3JU

T: +44 (0)1582 489369 E: goldbergcentre@beds.ac.uk

Research: Adults

Substance Misuse and Ageing Research Team (SMART)

The Substance Misuse and Ageing Research Team (SMART) sits within the Tilda Goldberg Centre for Social Work and Social Care. Established in March 2012, SMART is a collaborative working group consisting of researchers from a variety of disciplines including public health, social work and social care.  The programme of work is led by Dr Sarah Wadd, one of the UK's leading experts on alcohol use and misuse amongst older adults. Since its inception, SMART has:

  • Conducted research with older adults' alcohol services around the UK, including interviewing older adults in treatment for alcohol misuse.
  • Co-founded the Coalition for Older Adults Affected by Substance Misuse, comprising representatives from older adults' alcohol services around the UK. The Coalition aims to reduce discrimination and improve services for older people and their families and carers affected by substance misuse.
  • Developed guidelines on what strategies and treatment approaches work best with older people who misuse alcohol. 
  • Revealed the extent of alcohol-related harm and alcohol treatment amongst older people through re-analysis of existing data on drinking behaviour.
  • Initiated a study to improve the detection and treatment of alcohol problems in older adults with cognitive impairment (due for completion autumn 2013).
  • Collaborated with Brunel Institute for Ageing Studies on an exploratory study of alcohol-related elder abuse (due for completion summer 2013).
  • Developed a four nations approach, with strong links with specialist older people's substance misuse services and health and social care practitioners across the UK.
  • Engaged older people affected by substance misuse in our research programme.
  • Hosted a conference on alcohol misuse amongst older adults for health and social care practitioners.

Dr Wadd's expertise in this area has led to media appearances including interviews for Panorama and the Daily Telegraph, requests for research briefings from the Home Office and Age UK, invitations to give keynote presentations to members of the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Faculty of Addiction of the Royal Psychological Society, invitations to write an article on alcohol and ageing for the British Society of Gerontology and to co-author a book chapter on alcohol misuse amongst older people in a text book on the Clinical Psychology of Addiction. She has also acted as a consultant to Alcohol Research UK on priorities around older people and alcohol research.

As part of the SMART programme of work, we have produced five pocket guides for social workers on substance use including one on working with older people. 

The SMART team also includes Professor Mike Fisher, who has thirty year's experience of research and development in social care, including as Director of Research at the National Institute for Social Work and at the Social Care Institute for Excellence. His areas of interest are ageing, early intervention, re-ablement and dementia.

Bedfordshire University

Current Projects» Adults