Marilyn White is a BSO Addictions specialist in long-term care homes (LTCHs). She supports homes in managing responsive behaviours related to addictions. She has been instrumental in helping LTCHs through the COVID-19 pandemic, managing smoke cessation especially with clients who suffer from dementia. Below, she shares an example of how her work is helping people who suffer from dementia, cope during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Residents of LTCHs that smoke and are required to be in isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic present a particular challenge. Residents who are able to self-regulate their nicotine intake by taking hourly smoke breaks are being asked to not take smoke breaks and isolate in their rooms.
Jane had a 43-year history of smoking before she moved to a LTCH. She was able to cut down from 25 cigarettes per day to five. When she became COVID positive, she was no longer able to go out to smoke. Her smoking levels were quite low and she was offered a variety of options to support smoking cessation while she was in quarantine. Some of the nicotine replacement products were discussed with Jane including use of sugar to help with cravings.
Jane was neither diabetic nor was she over weight. It was suggested that having a lollipop would help her cope with the hand to mouth repetitive motion which she got from smoking and the sugar would help curve the craving for nicotine. In the end, Jane was able to stay in isolation without smoking using lollipops. She had social interaction from the staff, as they would drop by to see how she was doing and to ask if she wanted a lollipop. This “spoonful of sugar helped the medicine go down in the most delightful way” and without negative consequences for the resident.
Other residents, while in isolation, can use nicotine spray, lozenges, or gum as long as they can selfadminister and self-regulate with direction on dosing.
*A pseudonym has been used to protect the privacy of the resident