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Stoptober: supporting clients to stop smoking

18th October 2013

Stoptober LogoWe’re now more than halfway through Stoptober and very pleased to see a number of our clients are taking the opportunity to give up smoking.

At Gateway, helping people to stop smoking is always on the agenda. It’s just one of many issues that clients come to us for help with.

Smoking is often a secondary issue for people, as we have discussed in a previous blog post, The Smoking Challenge. But if someone comes to us saying they want to give up, what’s the next step?

Health Trainer Susan Bernard says, “Our job is to help people to make healthy lifestyle changes; to get into new and healthier habits. So we help people to plan ahead and get everything in place – mentally, emotionally and physically – for change.  This is all in line with the Smoking Cessation training we received.`

“When someone comes to us and says they want to stop smoking, the first thing we do is to make sure that they’re in a ‘personal state of readiness’. In other words, that they really want to give up. We ask questions like ‘why do you want to give up now? Is it for health or social reasons? Have you been planning to give up for a while?’ This helps the client to think about the reasons behind their habit, which can strengthen their resolve, and it helps us to work out the best plan of action for them.

Health Trainers May 2013 019“Often people are scared about quitting and they’re not sure how they’ll cope. So we encourage them by arming them with as much knowledge as possible. They may be subject to peer pressure – perhaps their whole family smokes and they’re the only one who wants to stop. Perhaps they’re worried about the side effects – how they’ll cope when they get cravings, or whether they’ll put on weight. So we talk through all of this with them. We tell them about all the options that are available – what they can expect from a stop smoking clinic; what nicotine replacements there are, and how they work – and we try and encourage them by showing what we’ve seen other people achieve.”

The statements on the Impact Assessment App show that, if a person is in a “state of readiness”, they will be able to achieve a lot. Susan’s client Derek* made an initial statement at the end of July that said

I want to stop smoking now due to my age. I have already cut down on drinking for more than year. Just wondering how you may be able to help me with this.

Two months later, at the beginning of October, we can see that – with the support of a smoking advisor and a Health Trainer – his lifestyle changes are having a big impact:

Still seeing the smoking advisor. I am using the gum and patches. I walk to most places rather than use public transport, so I am walking more than 5 miles a day sometimes. I do feel a lot fitter since I have cut smoking and it’s saving me money at the same time instead of spending on roll ups.

“Encouragement and support are our main tools,” Susan says. “If someone says they want to give up, we’ll refer them to a stop smoking clinic, but – depending on the person – we may have to call up and make the appointment for them, call them on the day to check they’re going, and call them again afterwards to see how it went.”

We can see from the App that this constant encouragement and moral support is vital to push people to take those first steps. Here’s an example from last week – Wayne’s client Jane* says:

I am a borderline diabetic, a smoker. Been to see my health trainer today who weighed me, and has advised me to look at changing some of the foods I eat all the time and to quit smoking. He has made me an appointment this morning for next week at my local chemist about quitting smoking. I feel a bit nervous but feel good as well.

It’s not just Gateway’s Health Trainers who encourage smoking cessation. We can see from the Impact Assessment App that the Pregnancy Outreach Workers are still managing to keep it on the agenda, too, even when their clients  have got lots of other pressing issues on their mind.  Of course the POWs have to judge the situation very carefully as being too pushy at an emotional time can strain their relationship with their client but sometimes, if they’re already making life changing decisions, they will decide that smoking is something they want to tackle too.

POW client Sabeen* made this statement just this week:

I have fled a DV [domestic violence] situation and am now in a refuge with my two children. I’m struggling to get a property although I have many agencies supporting me. I’m smoking 10 a day at the mo, but I’m ready to cut down.

The NHS says that if you can stop smoking for 28 days you are five times more likely to stay smokefree. Last Stoptober over 160,000 people stopped for 28 days.

If you’re ready to quit, it’s not too late to join in with Stoptober. If you sign up on the Stoptober website you can get a free support pack to help you get through the 28 days.

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