Staff goals can promote wellness and provide training to help more patients quit smoking. Staff training should match the plans for the agency to provide better treatment planning, referrals to community resources, and the planned treatment options for on-site. Agencies can require staff to “appear as non-smokers” at work and include this as a factor in hiring new staff. Some agencies create tobacco-free campuses and offer a range of services (such as Employee Assistance Programs, medications, and health insurance support) to help staff who use to quit.
Lack of staff training is one of the major barriers to implementing tobacco addiction treatment successfully. Providing training for staff enhances their knowledge and skills, helps change attitudes, and enables them to assist clients with more confidence and hope. Organizations that address staff tobacco use successfully have been shown to reduce their rates of involuntary turnover, accidents, injuries, discipline problems, and absentee rates.
Task 1. Provide basic training.
All clinical staff should have a basic knowledge on how to assess, develop a treatment plan, and refer patients to on-site and community treatment options. The ATTOC consultation and training team can provide basic training for all staff members, including prescribers. Prescribers need to be able to provide medication options if available.
Task 2. Provide advanced training.
Initially one or a few staff may be the designated tobacco treatment specialists. They can provide specific psychosocial treatment interventions in group or individual format, including treatment designed to increase awareness / motivation and help with quitting. The ATTOC consultation team can provide extensive advanced trainings either at the agency institution or at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, MA. Training can be offered via internet or phone. We encourage agencies to support a few individuals to become certified Tobacco Treatment Specialists.
Task 3. Provide ongoing and “refresher” training on nicotine dependency treatment.
Delivery of ongoing training is consistent with strategies to upgrade staff skills to address other health care challenges, such as HIV, AIDS, Hepatitis C, and Tuberculosis (TB), as well as incorporating opiate maintenance therapy. Many organizations have made it mandatory for nurses and other staff to receive yearly tobacco training.
Task 4. Analyze staff interest in recovery assistance and plan interventions.
Many staff will want and benefit from medications, psychosocial treatment, and social supports. Many just want medications, but we strongly encourage psychosocial treatment support (for example, Quit Lines, Nicotine Anonymous, or in-person treatment). Evaluate your staff benefits for tobacco addiction treatment with the agency health plan providers.
Task 5. Communicate changes and opportunities in this area to staff.
Communicate new policies and opportunities to staff. Engage with your Human Resources Office and Employee Assistance Program Office to align their work with this effort.
Task 6. Provide treatment and recovery assistance for interested staff.
By offering staff a variety of options to stop smoking, the agency enables each staff person to design a program that is suited to meet his or her particular needs and situation.
Task 7. Track progress in this work area and adjust the plan as needed.
Barriers encountered should be communicated to the consultant team in order to get expert feedback and reflections. Progress in each area (patients, staff, and environment) should be evaluated so that challenges can be met and accomplishments publicized.