In the latest in a series of guest blogs, Peter Terry, Mersey Care’s Smoking Cessation Lead, explains why the Trust is committed to going smoke free on 2 October, and emphasises the need to get things right as we move forward.
As part of the Trust’s commitment to the health and wellbeing of people using our services and our staff, Mersey Care has been working towards becoming smoke free since July 2008. There has been a phased implementation across the Trust and the final phase in Specialist Learning Disability and Local divisions was due to begin on 4 September. The Trust has now taken the decision to delay the implementation for four weeks until 2 October.
The decision to move the date back was not taken lightly but is an absolute indication of our determination to give the people who use our services the best possible chance of support towards moving away from nicotine use. We have responded promptly to new evidence and guidance that has indicated that e-cigarettes are another tool that can be used to support people with the challenges of withdrawal. Most importantly, as always, we have responded to the opinions and concerns of the people we serve. Some of them have stated that e-cigarettes may help them make this critical healthy lifestyle choice. We are satisfied that any safety concerns in this area can be addressed effectively and it has been encouraging to see both of the divisions and our Health and Safety team work so collaboratively and respond so flexibly to establish this new position.
After 2 October, service users, carers and visitors will not be able to smoke anywhere on Trust premises. Likewise staff, as per current policy, will not be allowed to smoke outside traditional breaks but will be encouraged to access Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) during work hours.
We are also under an obligation to follow guidelines set down by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in 2013, who recommended that all NHS funded secondary care sites should become completely smoke free. This has been supported by Public Health England (PHE), who have published guidance for commissioners recommending that all medium and secure units progress towards providing care in completely smoke free buildings and grounds. We also are determined to adhere to the supportive principles in these documents and guidance by the Care Quality Commission, which firmly puts compassionate support, tolerance, advice and education at the centre of our implementation strategy.
The Trust’s Nicotine Management Group, led by Dr Arun Chidambaram, have been driving this agenda forward to ensure everyone is on board and interventions are in place for the people who use services and staff and that they are supported to quit or reduce their smoking.
Following last year’s pause in the Local Division’s implementation, as I have indicated previously, it allowed us to take time to listen to the people who use services, and our dedicated staff, about how we could move forward.
I’ve been working closely with both the Local and Specialist Learning Disability Division to ensure staff receive training and education to enable them to support services users prior to and on their admission to an inpatient facility. Training has been provided by Solutions 4 Health, who are the Stop Smoking Services for Liverpool, Sefton and Knowsley. This has been complemented by the commissioning of Dr Alan Curley, who delivered a seminar on ’Conflicts in Addiction’. Both these sessions have been well received by staff and more are being planned.
In the run up to 2 October and beyond I will be doing ‘pop up’ stalls around the Trust, including at V7, where I will be providing information on how to reduce or quit, as well as explaining our up to date position in terms of the latest evidence on cessation.
While this is a challenging agenda for all involved, it is clearly the right thing to do and the Trust is committed to continuing to continuing its efforts in becoming smoke free, with the ultimate outcome of improving the health and wellbeing of the community as a whole. There are clearly few more positive things that we can ever hope to achieve together.