Call for Devon firms to support employees over 50 with alcohol choices

Drink Wise, Age Well Devon is calling on the county’s businesses to make sure they are supporting their older employees with alcohol choices.

Over the past 30 years, the employment rate for people aged 50-64 has grown from 55.4% to 70.7%, and the number of over 65s in work has also doubled from 4.9% to 10.7%.

Drink Wise, Age Well is sending out an Employer’s Toolkit to offer guidance on how to raise awareness within a workforce and offering training courses.

The initiative is part of Responsible Business Week, (24–28 April), the high-profile annual campaign to raise public awareness of business as a force for good in society.

Drink Wise, Age Well is a Big Lottery funded project which supports people to make healthier choices about drinking as they age.

The toolkit brings together information, activities and advice designed to support the wellbeing of employees as they get older and in turn prevent alcohol from negatively affecting their work and home life.

It is targeted at employers, line managers, Human Resources, Occupational Health and Trade Union representatives, and provides a wide range of alcohol awareness information intended for sharing with the whole work force.

Drink Wise, Age Well locality manager for Devon, Clare Pawley said: “As we get older our bodies change. This means we may be at increased risk of harm from alcohol even when drinking within recommended limits, especially if we have any health conditions or are on medication.

“As we age, we all face life changing events, such as changes at work, children leaving home, changes to our health or retirement. Many of us may see alcohol as a way to relax each day.

“Consuming alcohol on a regular basis, especially if we are drinking more than we realise, can start to have an impact on, not just our home lives, but our work lives too. Learning more about how much we are drinking can help us keep an eye out for some of the potential problems and enable us to stay healthier at work for longer.”

In the UK lost productivity due to alcohol has been estimated at about £7.3bn per year. A 2007 study which surveyed UK employees, highlights the harm alcohol can cause for employers.

The results are as follows:

• A third of employees admitted to having attended to work with a hangover.
• 15% reported having been drunk at work.
• 1 in 10 reported hangovers at work once a month; 1 in 20 once a week.

In a recent Drink Wise, Age Well study, 20% of surveyed adults aged over 50 who said they drink do so at increasing risk or higher risk levels, meaning if they continue to do so they may be at significant risk of harm. Alcohol related hospital admissions and alcohol related deaths are highest in the older population (age 55-64 years).

Drink Wise, Age Well Devon is also offering businesses in the county a six session resilience course called Live Wise, Age Well.

Live Wise, Age Well provides life and coping skills in a relaxed group environment while addressing the subject of how alcohol and other negative behaviours can affect a person’s resilience.

Run by Business in the Community, Responsible Business Week puts the spotlight on how businesses of all sizes are making a difference, changing lives and improving communities across the UK and aims to inspire many more businesses to take action.

Amanda Mackenzie OBE, Chief Executive of Business in the Community said:  “Responsible Business Week is a moment to reflect and be inspired by what business is doing to provide much needed help and support in our communities. We want UK companies to be the best in the world at responsible business, so by creating a space to share ideas and success stories we hope many more companies will help transform the way business is done.”

To find out more about Responsible Business Week 2017 visit www.bitc.org.uk/rbweek or search for the hashtag #RBWeek.

To find out more about Drink Wise, Age Well, visit http://drinkwiseagewell.org.uk/