Following postgraduate clinical and research experience in psychiatry on the Cambridge and Maudsley training schemes, I started as a consultant in old age psychiatry in 1998, working first at Lewisham and Guy’s Mental Health Trust and later at South London and Maudsley (SLAM) NHS Foundation Trust.
Working in a deprived inner-city area of south east London with one of the highest rates of alcohol related problems for older people in England, I soon realised that I needed additional knowledge and skills in this area, which I gained by completing a largely self-funded MSc in Addictions in 2003.
Over the past 10 years, I have published widely on the subject of alcohol misuse in older people. I was visiting Professor of Addiction in Older People at London South Bank University from 2010 to 2012 and currently a Visiting Researcher at the Institute of Psychiatry. I was also co-author of The Royal College of Psychiatrists Report Our Invisible Addicts in 2011.
Since 2007, I have delivered both keynote speeches and other presentations on alcohol and older people at postgraduate and voluntary sector conferences, as well as acting as a specialist advisor to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Alcohol Misuse, the Institute of Alcohol Studies and Alcohol Concern. I received a Clinical Governance award from my Trust in 2007 for my work on service development for dual diagnosis (alcohol misuse accompanying other mental disorders) and helped to set up the first dual diagnosis working group for older people within my own Trust.
I currently chair the Substance Misuse in Older People Working Group at the Royal College of Psychiatrists and am co-author for a book on older people and substance misuse, due to be published in 2014.
Having a broad overview of both clinical and public health aspects of addiction as well as being a frontline clinician working in the community, I firmly believe that reducing harm from alcohol lies not just in the treatment of those already affected by alcohol, but also a reduction in the availability of cheap, strong alcohol.
My overall aim has always been to ensure that older people can live healthy lifestyles in their own homes. Living healthily with alcohol requires a better understanding of the relationship between alcohol and health. I hope that this website will go some way in helping to do this.Dr Tony Rao October 2013