Call For Better Care For People With Alcohol Related Brain Damage

The Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland has called on health and social services to improve their awareness and responses to the needs of people with alcohol related brain damage (ARBD). They have made a series of recommendations to health boards, local authorities and the Scottish Executive following an Inquiry into the case of a man with dementia brought on by long term alchol abuse. The man at the centre of the Inquiry, Mr H, had been allowed to live squalid conditions, with evidence of physical and financial abuse, despite having regular contact with social and medical services for over two decades.

The Inquiry found that more could have been done at an earlier stage to improve Mr H’s health and welfare. In particular:

  • Social and health services should have paid more attention to assessing Mr H’s mental capacity
  • Social and housing service should have considered whether Mr H had the mental capacity to make decisions about his living and care arrangements
  • All agencies should have worked together to respond to his problems

“Mr H’s case highlights many of the problems and confusion that exist in services that come into contact with people with ARBD” said Commissioner George Kappler.

“It is widely acknowledged that services aren’t up to the mark in responding to people with this condition. This is worrying when it is estimated that for around 10% of people with dementia, alcohol related brain damage is thought to be the cause. The stigma associated with alcohol abuse may well result in people not being given appropriate care and treatment at an early stage.

“This is particularly tragic as, unlike other dementias, the symptoms of ARBD can be stopped and even reversed with abstinence from alcohol, proper nutrition and, of course, the care and support which might be necessary to help bring this about. By publishing this report we hope that services will be able to learn the lessons of this particular case and be able to respond more appropriately to the needs of  people with ARBD in future.”

A summary and the full text of the Inquiry Report and recommendations can be downloaded from