As Walsall Healthcare continues to help inpatients stop smoking, Alison Yates, Tobacco Dependency Advisor (TDA), will play a critical role – offering support and information to enable lasting change, beyond the hospital doors.
Part of the newly established Tobacco Dependency Team (TDT), Alison will help embed the process where clinicians and ward staff provide very brief advice (VBA) to smokers during their stay at Walsall Manor Hospital and at the rehabilitation centre in Hollybank House. This is a key part of the newly established ‘QUIT’ programme.
“Each inpatient will be asked, by ward staff, about their smoking habits and offered nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) for the duration of their stay,” she said. “Staff will then offer a longer package of support, and, if accepted, this will mean the patient is seen by a TDA who carries out an assessment and creates a plan of action for discharge.
“This plan includes a referral to a community pharmacy, where the patient will receive free gum or patches (up to 12 weeks which includes NRT administered in hospital) to assist them with stopping smoking for good.”
Aligned to the NHS Long-Term Plan, the service aims to reduce levels of smoking-related disease amongst local communities – protecting wellbeing and preventing hospital admissions which should ultimately reduce pressure on services at what continues to be an incredibly challenging time in healthcare.
“From the patients we’ve seen so far we’re getting positive feedback, with many saying they are still abstaining from smoking weeks after their discharge,” explained Alison. “This is really encouraging and will make a difference to many who could otherwise suffer with respiratory illness later in life.”
For this TDA, it’s incredibly important for staff to “get on board” with the programme and undergo the short 10-minute training online before the end of January 2022.
Despite being new to the role, having joined in October of this year, Alison is no stranger to the Trust after having worked as a Senior Health Trainer for eight years. Based in the Trust’s then ‘Lifestyle services’, this role gave her a wealth of experience to help people improve their physical and mental health and wellbeing.
“As part of my role back then, I supported the former Walsall Stop Smoking Service, so I have a background in this field.”
But for this advisor, the role is much more personal. It’s about something much closer to home, having experienced smoking-related disease within her own family.
“My main motivation is to support people to stop smoking and reduce their risk of dying from a preventable disease, as I have been affected by loss in my personal life related to smoking.
“I also previously smoked and can empathise with what people are going through when they stop smoking. Support is so important in quit attempts and I enjoy working face-to-face with people. Every success is making a real difference, to that person, their family, to the hospital and to the wider community.
“It’s a new service so there’s natural challenges when trying to embed something new but they are all quickly resolved, and I am finding the role very rewarding.”
The team operates from 8am-4pm, Monday to Friday, plus Saturday mornings until 12noon.