A day in the life - Tobacco Treatment Advisor content
More than 200,000 people smoke in South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw, and 1,350 cancers diagnosed in South Yorkshire every year are caused by smoking.
Steve Jones is part of a ground-breaking programme that is helping people in the region to quit smoking.
Steve is one of 45 Tobacco Treatment Advisors funded by Yorkshire Cancer Research, working with hospital patients across South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw to support them as they cut out cigarettes for good.
The Advisors work as part of The QUIT Programme, a ground-breaking initiative delivered by South Yorkshire Integrated Care Board that is changing the way tobacco addiction is tackled in hospitals, offering patients who smoke access to effective treatments and support as part of their care.
The programme has the potential to save 850 lives every year and help prevent 2,500 hospital readmissions.
We spoke to Steve about his role, how the programme works for hospital patients and what it means for people in South Yorkshire.
How did you become a Tobacco Treatment Advisor?
I’ve worked in the NHS for 30 years, and 26 of those years were in mental health as a nursing assistant.
I’d used the QUIT services myself to stop smoking. I’d initially stopped smoking and moved to using a vaping device, but I wanted to stop vaping too. The Tobacco Treatment Advisor, Sharon, provided me with Nicotine Replacement Therapy and gave me lots of support over a few weeks. Now I’m totally nicotine free.
Sharon told me about a new position coming up within the team and I thought it sounded really interesting, so I applied. I wanted to support people who’d had the same experience that I had as someone who smoked, especially those who aren’t aware of the difference having support can make.
What does your day-to-day role look like?
At the start of my working day, I check whether there are people who smoke who have been newly admitted to the hospital, and then go and see them as soon as I can. If someone decides they want support in quitting smoking, we will discuss the different types of Nicotine Replacement Therapy available, as well as the behavioural support and encouragement we can provide.
I’ll also go and see patients that are already on the QUIT programme to give them ongoing support and check that they have enough of their Nicotine Replacement Therapy. I always try to be visible on the hospital wards, so I can get to know patients better and make sure they know that I’m available to talk to if they need additional support.
My role involves making home visits to support patients who have been discharged from hospital. I also make regular phone calls in between appointments to provide them with extra support.
Quote from Steve
Are there any stand-out moments from your time working on the programme?
When I help someone to quit smoking after they’ve been trying for years and years, it’s an amazing feeling. It’s real job satisfaction.
When we first see a patient we ask them to do a carbon monoxide test where they breathe into a tube to see how much carbon monoxide is in their body. For a smoker, a typical result will be 10ppm (parts per million).
I worked with a patient who was a very heavy smoker, and his first carbon monoxide test had a result of 57ppm. I gave him advice, support and provided him with nicotine lozenges, and helped him set a quit date.
A few weeks later his carbon monoxide reading had gone down to 3ppm. He was absolutely over the moon and couldn’t believe it. Since then, he looks forward to doing the test and is always pleased when he gets the ‘green light’. He says he now sleeps better, his clothes don’t smell, the stains have gone from his beard, and he feels a lot better in general. He can’t thank us enough for all we’ve done to help him.
What do you hope to achieve through the QUIT programme?
I hope to help people make changes to improve their health. People in hospital often become more conscious of the impact that smoking can have on their health, and we can help start them on a journey toward quitting smoking and encourage them to start thinking about making healthy changes.
I think programmes like QUIT are really important to people in Yorkshire. The region has a higher smoking rate compared to other parts of the country. Smoking is an addiction and, as with all addictions, you are more likely to succeed in quitting with help and support from a dedicated team.
Is there any advice you’d like to give people who are looking to quit smoking?
Make sure you’ve got support. It’s much easier than trying on your own and you’re more likely to quit for good.
The QUIT Programme
The QUIT Programme aims to transform the way tobacco addiction is tackled in our hospitals, offering patients who smoke access to effective treatments and support as part of their routine care.