Quality of care report 2012/13

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Prison QUIT Program / Primary

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More than 80% of the Australian prison population are smokers, compared to 13.5% of the general population in Victoria.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare published in its Bulletin 119 Smoking and Quitting smoking among prisoners in Australia 2012 that almost half of prison entrants who were current smokers expressed a desire to quit smoking, however translating this into successful quit attempts is difficult.

Given their socioeconomic and demographic characteristics, prisoners are unlikely to access smoking-cessation and health-promotion programs in the community, therefore their time in prison should be optimised to make improvements to their health.

In 2011, the staff at Dhurringile prison approached GV Health, looking for Quit educators to assist them with this growing problem.
 
Since November 2011, the GV Health Self Management Support team has worked with Dhurringile prison to present 10 ‘Quitters are Winners’ courses. There is an ongoing Memorandum of Understanding between GV Health and Dhurringile Prison to provide between four and six QUIT sessions per financial year.

The ‘Quitters are Winners’ program is devised by Quit Victoria and includes DVDs, workbooks, and discussion topics. It runs over six 1.5hr sessions, with 10 participants in each course.

The GV Health team provides an extra session prior to the course beginning to meet individually with the participants and discuss motivation, importance, confidence, and knowledge around their smoking, and their cut/down quit attempt.

During the program, participants receive nicotine replacement therapy in the form of nicotine patches for free, and continue to receive patches for 12 weeks to help increase the chance of quitting successfully.  Research has shown that people are more likely to quit when they combine the use of nicotine replacement therapy with counselling/education regarding their smoking habits.

The feedback provided by the prisoners is always positive. They report that they have developed a better understanding of why they smoke, and that the information and strategies they learned throughout the course greatly assisted in their attempts to cut down/quit smoking.  All participants in the courses significantly cut down their smoking intake, with an average of three participants per course being successful in their quit attempt. Following the end of the course, participants are still able to receive nicotine patches for a further six weeks to assist them to continue to cut down/quit, and have access to Quit educators at the prison, should they need more support.