Friday, January 18, 2013

Up In Smoke

It's got to be one of my least favourite thing about my job - my hair and clothes smelling like smoke after doing home visits*.  Many clients are courteous, and don't smoke while I visit.  Some just find it too difficult to  it though the appointment without smoking.  In summer we often accommodate this by meeting outside.  But it's currently winter here in Canada, and temperatures are too cold for that.

Some job postings in this field state that the candidate should be aware they will be in smoking-environments.  Mine didn't but I've long recognized it as an unavoidable workplace hazard.  Sure, if I really wanted I could try to insist that clients meet me elsewhere, but the home visit plays an important role in my work, puts focus on me rather than the client, and possibly makes them feel guilty.  That's not what I'm trying to do folks.  Besides, it's their room/apartment/house.

Not so fun fact: rates of smoking for people with schizophrenia are estimated at about 88% - three times that of the general population.  And smoking cessation is just not high on the list of goals or priorities for most of my clients, who are busy trying to manage their symptoms, maintain their housing and survive on a few hundred bucks a month.

So until this changes, you'll see my huddled in my big coat and hat, driving with my windows down in winter trying to air myself out.

*not every home visit.  About half my current clients are smokers


  1. Yup. House smells in general are annoying. I also visit many people in nursing facilities and there's still odors that come out of those places too. I tend to bathe myself in hand sanitizer after every client visit.

    1. It's true, there are a lot of smells in this work!

  2. When I have a patient who is currently in the middle of a high-intensity treatment who says he wants to quit smoking I usually recommend that he waits until he finishes the treatment. I feel kind of bad about it, but a person can only handle so much stress at one time. Treatment is stressful. Quitting smoking is stressful. One thing at a time.