During the COVID-19 pandemic, Cancer Council WA sponsored $5,000 worth of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) to assist homeless VIP guests who smoke during their stay at Pan Pacific Perth. The initiative, in conjunction with Homeless Healthcare and the Hotels With Heart pilot project, ensured guests were getting support and the best health care possible during this unprecedented and challenging time.


Research shows that one of the most effective ways to encourage people to quit smoking is by health professionals giving advice, with one in every 33 conversations resulting in a patient successfully quitting smoking [1]. Due to their clinical expertise and regular contact, staff at Homeless Healthcare were best placed to have conversations with guests about smoking, administer the NRT and follow-up on an ongoing basis.

One of the success stories is Barry, who was able to get support to quit through the Hotels With Heart project.

Barry was a long term smoker in his early sixties who was homeless for seven years.  He has several cardio-vascular disease risk factors, and a range of long-term health issues, including depression and anxiety, osteoarthritis and alcohol dependence. Barry had been attempting to quit smoking in the past, but has struggled to remain quit. While accommodated through Hotels with Heart, Barry was able to get support to address his smoking. A Homeless Healthcare GP engaged in motivational interviewing with Barry and supporting him to develop a quitting plan. With the support of Cancer Council WA, he was able to access a wide range of NRT products at no cost. When Barry developed a rash from his NRT patch, the Homeless Healthcare GPs were able to switch him to the inhalator and gum and try a different dose patch. At the conclusion of the Hotels With Heart project, Barry was offered a unit to live in, and has been happily living there for nearly four months. He admits that it is hard to stay off the smokes when it has been part of your life for so long, and has had some relapses in his quitting journey but is determined to be an ex-smoker in the near future. “I really need to quit as it is not good for my lungs and I have this terrible cough.  I feel really self-conscious when on a bus and I cough, as feel I have to explain it is not a COVID cough, it’s a smokers cough” Barry saysHe continues to see Homeless Healthcare for cessation support, and greatly appreciates the NRT support provided to him, saying “it definitely helps when trying to quit having access to the NRT.”


Read about Tobacco and COVID-19 here or find out more about Homeless Healthcare at homelesshealthcare.org.au.



[1] Stead LF, Buitrago D, Preciado N, Sanchez G, Hartmann-Boyce J, Lancaster T. Physician advice for smoking cessation. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013(5):CD000165.


Last updated 16 August 2023


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