NorWest offers help for smokers

From left: Shannon Milks, Kelly Deveau and Cindy Peters
From left: Shannon Milks, Kelly Deveau and Cindy Peters.
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NorWest Co-op Community Health

Smoker's Help Line

Winnipeg Health Region
Wave, November / December 2013

Residents in the Inkster area who smoke now have an ally in their efforts to kick their habit.

Staff at NorWest Co-op Community Health are now more frequently asking people who visit the centre about their smoking habits and offering to provide them with the resources they need to quit.

The new approach is designed to address some of the common reasons people struggle to quit smoking, such as a lack of ongoing support and access to nicotine replacement therapy, according to Shannon Milks, Chronic Disease Co-ordinator at NorWest Co-op Community Health.

As she explains, NorWest decided to become more proactive in helping people quit their habit after joining the Winnipeg Health Region's Smoking Cessation Best Practices Working Group (SCBPWG).

"The expectation is that each team member is addressing smoking by asking people about their smoking habits as often as possible and providing them with the resources they need," Milks says.

"As part of this process we discovered that a lack of access to nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) was a significant barrier for some of our clients. We were able to find additional funding through Manitoba Health (Healthy Together Now Inkster) and can now supply free NRT out of two sites: NorWest Co-op Community Health and NorWest Co-op at Bluebird. That, in combination with one-to-one counselling, has been very helpful in supporting our efforts to address smoking cessation with every client who walks through our doors."

Cindy Peters, primary care nurse at NorWest Co-op at Bluebird, says the one-to-one counselling is very individualized.

"Depending on the flow of the conversation, we can start doing some of the work to determine if they are interested in quitting and whether that's something the client wants to get support for. Often, we're able to book another appointment so that we can spend more time talking specifically about smoking cessation. It's really an open conversation on what smoking means to them and what quitting would look like for them," says Peters.

When clients are ready, they talk about the resources available to help them quit, which can include follow-up meetings, NRT or prescription medications, and access to Smokers' Helpline, if that's something they feel is helpful. "Most of the conversation revolves around getting them to explore why and when they smoke, their triggers, and why they want to quit."

Kelly Deveau, primary care nurse at NorWest, agrees. "Every client is unique. We try to make it fun and stress-free and analyze the type of smoker they are. We tell people to never quit quitting and that, on average, quitting takes seven or eight attempts."

"There is no finger-wagging, no judgments and no recriminations. In fact, the counselling is geared to getting the client involved in their own care plan. The tools and counselling help take the emotion, guilt and shame out of smoking cessation," Deveau says. "With some help from us, clients become their own private investigators and get to the root causes and motivations for their smoking. And then we start to look at providing them with the right tools for their tool box and where they want to go with that."

In just over six months, NorWest has had 51 referrals for smoking cessation support. Eight people have quit smoking and about 30 people are in the "preparation - action" stages moving toward quitting.

Wave: November / December 2013

About Wave

Wave is published six times a year by the Winnipeg Health Region in cooperation with the Winnipeg Free Press. It is available at newsstands, hospitals and clinics throughout Winnipeg, as well as McNally Robinson Books.

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