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Finally someone that gets it, had sister admitted to Greylands in WA her sole focus was having on visitors so she could go outside and have a smoke. The smokes she took back inside were more valuable than gold or coffee. Within 2 steps of the door on discharge she had a smoke lit. The staff knew and supported it, not sure if they knew about the ones being snuck in though.
Well done! You're blogrolled at http://f2cscotland.blogspot.com/.
Keep up the good work, Belinda and F2C Scotland have been campaigning on this issue for a long time. Blog added to blogroll at http://freedom-2-choose.blogspot.com/
Thanks for sharing your sister's experience. Unfortunately this is not uncommon - I know of many family members and friends who have to 'sneak' cigarettes onto wards for their loved ones.
To stop people smoking when they are at their most distressed is cruel and inhumane. Either the in-patient services are not aware of the level of distress their patients are experiencing or they don't care about their distress. Either way it is an indictment on mental health services that they would do this to their patients at such a time.
Thanks Isabell - we are in violent agreement! I know that many of the nurses 'on the ground' disagree with the bans. HACSU, the union which represents many psych nurses, tell me that the bans are a frequent topic of conversation amongst members, with many feeling they are a human rights violation for patients. They see the distress, and the risks, and they don't want to enforce them - but their organisations require them to do so. I am particularly outraged that many nurses employment contracts have 'gag clauses' which forbid them from speaking out publicly against hospital policies. This denies consumers the ability to publicly access the support of nurses. Thankfully, some brave nurses are starting to speak out on this issue. I might be wrong, but it seems to me that the biggest part of this issue is with hospital management, and decision makers in the department - all of whom seem to be completely out of touch with the real impacts of these bans. I also see a complete lack of respect for consumer needs and wishes, and a very black and white interpretation of a complex issue. It is indeed an indictment - particularly at a time when services claim to be increasing access!
Keep up the good work Indigo, you have much support from the UK.
Thanks BigYin! I know the campaign is strong in the UK, and it's so great to know we are supporting each other.
What needs to be understood is that quitting is a massive undertaking and cannot be achieved in times of trauma. I'm in the process now and struggling hard. My doctor once told me not to give up at that time, as I was so troubled by other problems.
I waited until the time was right... why traumatise a patient so badly when you are supposed to be healing them?
Four years ago at an AAU there were just as many badly behaved smokers, who were allowed to smoke at that time, as there were last year when I was at the same unit, when they were not. Maybe some education about manners might be appropriate.
There was never a need for smoking bans. http://f2cscotland.blogspot.com/2011/07/air-quality-standard-eliminates-need.html
Agree, as I have read the same blogspot. I am the spokesperson of small grassroot movement here in Denmark with the same name as our website.
I think those hospital bureaucrats are quaking in their boots. Go get them Indi. They just aren't used to people standing up for their rights. I hope you get accurate and sympathetic editing from the tv people. cheers Carol from Tassie
Well done Indigo! And congratulations on the Channel 7 interview! Try to grab it / post it so we can see how it came out, OK? :) Keep on fightin! :)
There is no place for smoking in a hospital. You do not have a right to smoke. Smoking is a freedom granted to you by our community via laws that allow the sale of tobacco products. That freedom is curtailed where appropriate as seen in laws banning smoking in eating places and inside buildings or areas with a roof. Claiming a right to smoke dilutes the value of the real rights we have. If smoking was a right, our government would be required to provide tobacco products for free or very cheap to ensure that you could exercise that right. That is something that is nonsensical given our damaging smoking is the smoker and the community.
I'm a med student and whilst I know I should be super anti-smoking (and to be fair, I generally am) I feel the NSW health laws are completely unjust. A person who has had their leg amputated secondary to the effects of peripheral vascular disease (caused from 50 years of smoking) can sit out the front of the hospital in their wheelchair and happily light a cigarette but a mental health inpatient can't!!?? It seems incredibly unethical and unjust to me.
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You have serious "mut!" Yiddish for courage, boldness, guts! You GO girl!!!
Go Indi, go Indi. Those bureaucrats are quaking in their boots. Not used to people being articulate and standing up for better care!!!
I agree with her whole heartedly, I am a reformed smoker, but that was my decision. It is cruel to expect them to give up while they are under deep stress. I find the holly than thou people enforcing this have little understanding the incredible stress they undergoing. If I hadn't had my smokes during that time i would have been impossible.
I would've carved up the walls if i couldn’t access my ciggies in the ward for months, let alone the first three days!
As from this week... In the Austin hospitals "secure" psych ward, smoking is being permitted in the courtyard. They were the first psych hospital to trial the non smoking rules in psych wards, & now the first to lift the ban.
Some pts get so uptight if forced off their ciggies that they smash up TV sets, window panes etc., just to fulfill regs about "No Smoking in Govt Bldgs". Obviously they sneak a smoke wherever they can, and will get back onto it upon discharge. Providing a smoking area (verandah, courtyard etc.) would be much more humane and rational.
With the Austin now being more flexible; breaking rules to let patients smoke, wont b long until the others follow on id say. Austin "secure" psych ward, most people stay there 12 months, so can see why they r now stretching these rules. I’m glad for them!!
Indigo, thank you for standing up for us, you really are a warrior and an inspiration to us all :)
Brilliant Indi! You make commonsense of this non-argument!
Facebook discussion by psychiatric nurses about the smoking bans (identities removed)
I’m so fed up with being assaulted because of this situation.. albeit assaulted physically or verbally. I’m about to give this all up...I’m over it. Been in this job 24 years and I am about to walk because of the way things have changed. Who cares about us when we get the blunt force of the situation. I can understand all in this. There are situations where I would turn a blind eye... But it means my job. What does one do! You are damned if you do and damned if you don't. Ok I agree that... smoking has negative effects, however, with pt's that have chronic Psych illness, and smoke, this is not the answer to say you are here under section 12 and you can't have a cigarette, nor other basic choices.
Personally, if I were a smoker and was in crisis and needed to go to hospital I think the risks of cigarette smoking would be the least of my health worries. Again I reiterate that I can understand the situation with the health aspects of smoking, however, when people are at their most vulnerable, it is not possible for them to just stop smoking when there are severe mental health issues at the fore. How about dealing with the acute mental state first then address the other issues second.
You are so right, and the legislation actually allows for exemptions in mental health facilities, they just have to apply for it. Other hospitals have done it and it's time they all did. I know this is an issue in Albury too and they are agitating about this.
I don't mind other people smoking , as long as no other people force to smoke second hand smoke or sick because of this.
I HATE ciggy smoke. I hate the smell on my clothes and clean hair. I hate when I'm on PT and the person sitting next to me reeks of... it (and tonnes of perfume, but that's another issue). When I walk down the street, I hate passing people standing outside fagging away or sitting in the outdoor cafe seating with clouds of smoke. When I'm sick, like now, it makes me even more ill. I run in front of people walking in front of me who are smoking or I hold my nose until I am well past them.
I hate that these products exist at all. BUT (sorry for the long lead up), I can see for other people they get some sort of pleasure out of them, and if you're addicted to something, there is a physiological link of pleasure with ciggies - feeling stressed, i'll have a smoke.. ahhh feel better. If I was in distress and was a smoker who felt not as stressed with the world at large from a ciggy, then I can see exactly how this ban is a terrible thing and as long as the smoke isn't wafting onto the street for passers by (as a lot of pubs and clubs have done which is really gross and I hate it), I have no problem with it, as they are adults and have the right to choose.
All valid arguments, however, is the time you're needing intensive support to deal with mental health issues the time to address addiction to a legal substance. Holistic care looks beyond time in hospital and can be addressed at a safer time. This issue is also about the safety of nurses and the increase in assault with policies like this... And that's worth fighting for. It's a call for a smoking area, not a hospital with smoking allowed anywhere. Common sense should prevail and safety of nurses and patients well being the important thing. Deal with the addiction later, with consent of the person.
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Comments in response to the 21 July Channel 7 news report:
Good on you Indi! I've been through mental health crises too, and even as an ex-smoker I completely agree that being in a hospital, in a critical time, is not the time to take away what is perhaps the ONLY personal choice that we can take with us into the ward. They take away our mobile phones too. Well done for making common sense prevail in an in-sane system.
As a rabid anti smoker,what about my human rights?I certainly dont want to be stuck in hospital with a person smoking in my vicinity,however if they are outside I dont have a problem with that,must be nuts to smoke anyway,[that will get a reaction Im sure,no offence intended].
Hi Ken, no offence taken. I'm just asking the Alfred to install small smoking shelters in the courtyards attached to psychiatric wards. This would allow the 80% of psych patients who smoke to not be forced into withdrawal during an admission, without affecting any non-smoking patients or staff. Currently, people in crisis are doing almost anything to avoid hospital because of these bans. That included me last year. What’s the greater priority here – smoking or suicide prevention?
Even as a non-smoker I can recognise that forcing people to quit smoking is not going to be effecitve - not even Quit suggest this strategy to stop smoking. Forcing people who are already in a stressed mental state seems cruel and insensitive to me. Why double-penalise people already in distress? Is this method REALLY going to stop them smoking? I honestly don't think so. This is a silly, bureaucratic rule that has been made with no thought or consideration for the real life...
My right to a smoke free enviornment is greater than a smokers right to pollute the air I need to breathe. Smokers need to get it through their thick heads that their smoking harms others. Smokers are selfish. Why should mental health workers be put in a position of harm because you want to smoke. The Human Rights laws go both ways and I as a non smoker have the right to work and visit a place that is safe and free from cigarette smoke.
Comments in response to the 21 July Herald Sun newspaper article:
And every time the patient wants to go to the court yard and have a smoke they will need to be escorted by a mental health nurse. Sure is a very good use of their time huh?
She has a right to ruin her own health she does not have the right to ruin other peoples health.
It is a wonder that the "authorities' are allowed to "ban smoking' in their particular patch. Doctors declare smoking is bad for an individuals health. It is, but surely it is up to the individual to decide. As for passive smoking, there are more carcinogens in the atmosphere of big cities caused by industrial pollution and vehicles than anything else. When tobacco products are declared illegal by legislation, and the government change the laws on the right of the individual.Rather than reaping the benefits of Tax and excise. I will then take notice of "Smoking Ban's' foisted upon me by shopping centre's and local councils
So, let me get this right - The Alfred Hospital and QUIT are recommending incarceration and forced removal of tobacco products at a time of immense suffering and distress as an ideal approach to giving up smoking? This policy should come with one of those "Don't try this at home" warnings! One wonders, just how far does The Alfred go in enforcing this ban and what are the consequences to any 'involuntary' patient who attempts to light up a smoke on hospital grounds? I am a non-smoker who lives in a smoke-free home but I give Indigo my full support in her fight to defend the rights of involuntary patients in psychiatric wards. If I had any power in this regard I would give the patients the most supportive environment possible whilst they were at the height of their mental and emotional distress, educate them about the health hazards of smoking if and when they were able to be receptive, and then support them to quit, if they so chose, once they were well enough to be discharged. This assistance should then go with them beyond the walls of the hospital. The current practice is not only paternalistic but an outrageous denial of human rights.
To Observer: We don't need to be escorted. There are private courtyards attached to all psych wards just for patients from that ward. Currently, nurses are wasting far more time trying to police the bans - and this is an issue many nurses have raised with their union.
To Inappropriate: I agree with you. That's why I'm asking for the hospital to install a small smoking shelter in the ward's courtyard. That way people can smoke without having any impact on non smokers - problem solved. Incidentally, around 80% of people with serious mental illness are smokers. Please remember I am not saying we should encourage smoking, or even allow it anywhere people want. Just that when people are in extreme psychiatric crisis it's not the time to quit. And it's never the right time to enforce quitting - last time I checked smoking was legal, psych patients are adults, and we live in a democracy. Please remember that psychiatric units are a somewhat unique situation. People are experiencing a great deal of suffering, and they are usually being held against their will. Do we really need to add to their distress? Want to know more? visit my blog www.smokingmad.blogspot.com