It’s been eight months since our Trust become Smokefree in April 2016. Supporting our service users and staff with nicotine dependency continues to be a key priority for us as a mental health and learning disability trust. I know that this is a challenging transition for service users, carers and for staff and presents an unprecedented change in culture for us all, so a very BIG thank you for all of the hard work everyone is engaged in day to day to support our service users and one another as we work towards a healthier environment for us all.
I have had many occasions to reflect on our ambition to provide services in a Smokefree environment and I am struck by the very encouraging comments from some of our service users and staff about how this has presented an opportunity for them to abstain from tobacco smoking for the first time in their lives. For some services users it has meant that they have significantly reduced their tobacco smoking for the first time. It is extremely important that we continue to work together to provide our services users with real life changing opportunities to improve their physical health.
We are fortunate to have recently been visited by our colleagues Phil and Simon Hough from Cheshire and Wirral Partnership Trust, who are two and a half years on in their Smokefree implementation journey. Phil and Simon spent a week in our inpatient services with our Smokefree Clinical Lead speaking with staff and services users about the Trust being smoke free. We were able to stop and review how we are progressing on this journey, taking stock of where we could learn and make improvements. Phil and Simon reported that they listened to people that have completely stopped smoking and many that have dramatically reduced how many they smoke. They also met lots of staff working very hard to support people who are dependent on nicotine and using their skills and compassion in very positive ways to do so.
We recently hosted a national conference at which the former Health Minister and Trustee of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), Paul Burstow, commended our efforts in this vital health promotion agenda. Smoking is the biggest preventable cause of death in England and, with 42% of all the tobacco smoked in this country being by people with mental health problems, this group disproportionately experience tobacco-related harm.
We all have a responsibility to safeguard the health our service users and those who use our premises by engaging in helpful and supportive conversations about the benefits using alternative nicotine sources in place of tobacco and the support available to do so. I know this journey is a long one but in just six short months we have come so far – so keep going and supporting each other and remember how much of a positive difference this is making.
We have developed a Smokefree toolkit, which describes our approach to becoming Smokefree and offers some useful insights, prompts and suggestions to help others go Smokefree too. Download it here.
For any nicotine management and Smokefree support, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Director of Nursing, Professions and Quality