Hospital staff, health promoters, cessation providers and medical centres all have a role to play in stop smoking initiatives in the Waikato.
Here is a wrap of some recent and planned community-based activities around the district, particularly leveraging off the, and a profile of the Waihi Health Centre’s smoking cessation services which have successfully supported locals to quit for almost two years:
In the central part of the Waikato…
The Waikato smokefree network CHANCES held two Stoptober promotion events at the University of Waikato – 25 quitters were signed up to Stoptober.co.nz over the two days as part of the celebrations for the university’s Cultural Hour and Kingitanga Day.
CHANCES (Cambridge, Hamilton, Huntly and Ngaruawhia Combined Ending Smoking) includes representatives from Te Kohao Health, Ngā Miro Health, The Cancer Society, Heart Foundation, Kaute Pasifika, Midlands Health Network, Te Rununga o Kirikiriroa, Te Karito Kura Wananga and Waikato DHB’s Population Health..
CHANCES also has work happening in Hamilton City and Waikato District as part of Smokefree Outdoor Areas (SFOA) policy. This includes promoting Smokefree Outdoor Dining.
Waikato DHB’s Population Health team is involved with ‘Sweat Out Tobacco’, a smokefree volley ball tournament in Hamilton, on 19 October. This is part of Smokefree work targeting Pacific and refugee and new migrant communities.
In the south of Waikato…
The Te Kuiti Taumarunui Otorohanga Action Smokefree Team (TOAST) is supporting Stoptober by distributing posters through the townships of Te Kuiti, Otorohanga and Piopio and spreading the word. Stoptober resources are being used by the Te Kuiti Unichem Pharmacy, the Te Kuiti Family Health Clinic and the providers in our group including Ngati Maniapoto Marae Pact Trust (NMMPT) which is the local Aukati Kai Paipa provider.
For the youth of Te Kuiti and Otorohanga there is the Battle of the Towns – Reducing Risk Team Challenge which provides alternative activities for young people at times of high risk around alcohol, and Stoptober and quit smoking messages are linked into this programme. Some of the young people attending these events have previously attempted quitting via the WERO challenge and have been encouraged to register for Stoptober. The Battle of the Towns is a four week block of activities which began on the 26 September with water volleyball at the Otorohanga Pools and continued on 3 October with Basketball at the Te Kuiti Stadium.
At the Waihi Health Centre…
Individual Smoking Cessation Clinics at the Waihi Health Centre started in February last year and are led by practice nurses Mary Reekers and Lynley Watson. Both had completed the two-day Heart Foundation ABC course and were ex-smokers so they understood the challenges, highs and lows of quitting smoking.
Four hours of nursing time are devoted to the clinics each week, on a morning and evening basis. They are free to the patient and funded from Health Promotion money which also covered the cost of a Pico Smokelyser.
From the beginning, their catchphrase has been:
There is no judgement, no failure.
Lynley explains: ‘There is no failure as far as we’re concerned. They (smokers) are trapped, consumed by cigarettes and trying to find a way out. They’re always looking for the right time to quit but life isn’t like that; there will never be a perfect time. Every single person has got something from their visit. They’ve walked out with a plan in place and follow-up. We know if they’ve been smoking because the Smokelyser reading tells us but we always tell them that today’s another day, don’t smoke today.’
Mary and Lynley have different approaches and will refer patients if they think the other one will have more success.
Mary: ‘If I ask somebody if they want to give up, and they say, “Mmm…I guess”, then I won’t hesitate to tell them they’re not ready.’ Lynley has a different take. ‘There are a few who won’t jump out of the plane until I convince them that we, and Champix or Zyban are their parachute.’
It is early days but so far, the results are encouraging. At the beginning of August 2013, 45 patients had been seen between February and July, 29 were smokefree, 13 were unsuccessful and 3 were still receiving support.
Practice manager Donna Fisher believes that it is essential the health professionals providing the clinics are organised and passionate about helping people to quit. Lynley and Mary emphasise the importance of a whole team approach for the clinics to be successful. They are also thankful for the support they received from the Zyban and Champix reps which included online teaching sessions.
Keryl is 29 and a solo mum of four children aged 2-9 years. Her parents both smoked and her siblings smoke, although her sister is trying to give up. Her father died of cancer aged 55 and her mother has emphysema. Keryl says that seeing her mother breathless, and watching her use her inhaler has had far more impact on her than her father’s early death.
Lynley supports this, and talks more about the risk of emphysema than lung cancer. ‘Most people know or have seen somebody with emphysema and see it as a slow death.’
On average, Keryl spent $60 a week on tobacco and usually couldn’t afford bread and milk at the end of the week. She wanted to stop and tried to give up on her own before using Nicotine lozenges, gum and patches but wasn’t successful.
‘I’d take the kids to the park and they’d ask me to come play but I’d have to stop and have a smoke. My twins really wanted me to stop.’
Keryl saw a poster for the clinics at the medical centre and made an initial appointment which was followed by fortnightly visits and she could always contact somebody by phone or visit the practice if she needed to talk. She started on Champix and continued to smoke for three weeks. She managed to get down to one cigarette a day but couldn’t give up the one she had at night after the kids went to bed.
‘I remember telling Lynley that I couldn’t give up that one last cigarette and her saying, “Do it tonight, draw a line in the sand”. ‘So I did. I didn’t roll my smoke, I watched TV instead. I didn’t replace it with anything.’
It wasn’t all plain sailing. Keryl battled with the side effects of Champix but got through thanks to her determination and support from Lynley and Mary who in turn had help from the drug reps.
Six months ago, in April, Keryl had her last cigarette. ‘I still want to smoke but if I smell that horrible, yucky, stinky smoke smell, I change my mind.’ She grins, ‘And my taste buds have woken up. I don’t like the taste of coffee.’
With the money she’s saved, Keryl was able to send her nine-year-old son to school camp at Hahei. ‘It’s a huge, major thing for me and my boy. He loved it.’
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