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AE1.2014 Test for alcohol and other substance use


For this standard you need to test individuals to see if they have been using alcohol and other substances. This standard relates to substances which may include alcohol, prescription and over-the-counter medicines, controlled or currently legal drugs, and new psychoactive substances. This includes preparing to test for substance use, taking samples for testing, communicating and recording the results of testing. Users of this standard will need to ensure that practice reflects up to date information and policies. Version No 2

Knowledge and Understanding

You will need to know and understand:
  1. legal, organisational and policy requirements relevant to your role and the activities being carried out
  2. health, safety and security policies and how to ensure the testing environment and procedures meets these
  3. how to adapt communication styles in ways which meet the individual's needs, strengths and capabilities
  4. the rights of the individual, the testing regime and process and possible consequences of both positive and negative results
  5. who and how to refer to if you suspect that samples are not authentic, have been contaminated
  6. the principle of confidentiality and the implications for your practice
  7. the purpose of testing and the consequences of non-compliance for individuals
  8. the importance of accurately identifying those individuals to be tested for substance use and how to do so
  9. clinical and organisational procedures for testing for alcohol or other substance use
  10. the range of tests available and which type of tests are used by your organisation
  11. when sample giving needs to be witnessed and how to make appropriate arrangements
  12. the importance of obtaining consent for substance testing, how to do so and when carer and/or guardians need to be involved
  13. the limits of testing and the possible causes of false readings in the types of tests carried out
  14. the equipment required for testing for substance use and how to use this in accordance with supplier's/manufacturer's instructions and organisational procedure
  15. how to dispose of samples and sampling equipment safely
  16. the principles of equality, diversity and anti-discriminatory practice and how they are applied
  17. the individual's rights when being tested for substance use
  18. the importance of keeping full and accurate records, and how to do so in line with organisational requirements

Performance Criteria

You must be able to do the following:
  1. accurately identify those individuals to be tested for substance use
  2. schedule tests in accordance with requirements
  3. confirm that the environment in which the tests are to be carried out, and the procedures to be used comply with health, safety and security policies
  4. make arrangements for tests to be witnessed, where required
  5. confirm that those involved in carrying out tests are competent and fully understand their roles and the procedures to be followed
  6. confirm the availability of all necessary equipment for testing
  7. confirm that individuals being tested understand the purpose of the tests, their rights, and any consequences of not submitting to the testing procedures
  8. obtain any necessary consent for testing procedures from individuals, or from their carers or guardians where required
  9. explain clearly and precisely to individuals what they are required to do to provide their samples
  10. provide opportunities for individuals to describe their substance use and explain possible false positives before they are tested
  11. take samples according to clinical and organisational policies and procedures
  12. ensure that the samples are authentic and have not been contaminated
  13. promptly refer to relevant people if you suspect that samples are not authentic or have been contaminated
  14. test samples, or refer them for testing, in accordance with clinical and organisational policies and procedures
  15. follow supplier's/manufacturer's instructions for use of equipment, where appropriate
  16. dispose of samples safely, in accordance with clinical and organisational policies and procedures
  17. communicate the outcomes of the tests to individuals, and their carers or guardians where required, and ensure they understand the outcomes
  18. respect individuals' rights and the required standards of confidentiality
  19. keep full and accurate records of testing and results and make reports in accordance with your organisation's policy and procedures

Additional Information

This National Occupational Standard was developed by Skills for Health.This standard links with the following dimension within the NHS Knowledge and Skills Framework (October 2004): Dimension: HWB6 Assessment and treatment planning
AE1.2014 Test for alcohol and other substance use
Final version approved February 2014 © copyright Skills For Health,
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