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Keywords:

  • Rights;
  • Risks;
  • Alcohol;
  • Older people;
  • Community care

This paper examines policy and practice regarding the purchase of alcohol for older clients of home carers in three local authorities in the Greater London area. Data were gathered from interviews with home carers and their managers, focus group discussions, and a postal survey. None of the local authorities had a written policy or written guidance on alcohol purchase or on appropriate responses to the identification of problematic drinking in older clients. The findings illustrate the problem of balancing “rights” and “risks” within a philosophy of community care which emphasizes client choice and autonomy, and show how policy and practice are “tailored” by local contexts. It is suggested that both home carers and other domiciliary workers, as well as their older clients, could benefit from a clear code of practice regarding responses to alcohol consumption and problematic drinking by older people.