COPE Scotland have put together a Gambling Information booklet, their CEO and Honorary Fellow of QNIS Hilda Campbell provides her tips on how to use the booklet, reduce gambling harms and the role of community nurses in helping to create safer communities. The guidance includes a jigsaw lid toolkit for helping tackle the harms of gambling.
Community nurses have a unique relationship with the people they care for. It is important to create a space where people feel safe to disclose any concerns without judgement. Often this extends to issues in other areas of their life that are not specifically related to health. Whilst nurses might not always have the answers for these issues, they do play a crucial role in signposting help and encouraging open discussion around these subjects.
COPE Scotland previously connected with the local community to explore unhelpful habits. COPE assessed the impact these had on personal wellbeing, not only speaking to those engaging in unhelpful habits but also the people who love them. Next to drugs and alcohol the highest area of concern within the community was around problems with gambling. Further exploration showed that people were wary about seeking help or even discussing their habits. Often, associating their behaviour with shame, or in denial about the extent it was affecting them and their families made people reluctant. When asked what would benefit communities affected by gambling harm the responses all called for heightened awareness, provision of effective support and encouragement to seek help.
Working with the Health and Social Care Alliance and other partners, COPE Scotland’s social enterprise company have developed Jigsaw Lids, a tool that offers a simple way to see the world through multiple perspectives. Working alongside a variety of different stakeholders has meant that the Jigsaw Lids model has been adapted to assist with many themes, practices, and forms of care.
For more information on how to use the Jigsaw Lid toolkit for gambling harms please visit COPE Scotland
These are the themes and aspirations which have been emerging from our work on gambling harms:
- Improved awareness and communication around gambling harms
- A new service landscape for addressing gambling harms.
- Training and education
- Cultural changes
- Attitudinal changes
- Legislative changes
- Introduction of psychologically safe spaces where stakeholders can have courageous conversations, including those within the gambling industry.
- Protection of people at increased risk due to health issues or other vulnerabilities, including inequality.
- Protection of children and young people
- Involving the voices of lived experience in co-design, development, and delivery
- Seek solutions to the wider causes of gambling harms rather than seeking to blame individuals.
- Ensuring people understand and can influence licencing laws.
- Offer service pathways to individuals and their families that are holistic with clarity on how to access them.
- Make health professionals and other frontline services gambling harms aware so they can offer meaningful interventions.
- Reduce stigma within families and communities by making it easier to talk about and seek help for the challenges associated with gambling.
- Monitor advertising and accessibility which can lead to gambling harms and introduce standards to reduce any harm already in place.
- Offer population-based education programmes to promote healthy coping strategies for life challenges.
- Help communities take a public health and trauma-informed approach towards addressing gambling harms.
Although none of us alone have all the answers, if we can find ways to link our efforts then this should be manageable within our own core responsibilities and duties. It will take a combined effort for these aspirations to be achieved. We do not need all nurses to become experts in gambling harms, but we should be supporting them to recognise unhelpful habits. Nurses should also be provided with information on existing organisations that do have experience in this kind of assistance. The more we can encourage conversations that help people to seek support the more scope we will have to make a difference.
Ideas for those who want to get involved in preventing gambling harms and creating safer families and communities include:
- Attending a raising awareness session on gambling harms. There are many to choose from including those offered by people with lived experience.
- Keeping up to date with the ‘Whit’s Happening’ information magazines on cope-scotland.org which comes out each month and has a section on gambling harms.
- Reading the gambling harms booklet which offers ideas on services people can be linked to. A copy is available here.
- Familiarising yourself with the Recover Me app, a mobile app designed by medical professionals which helps people manage a gambling addiction Recover Me app and which is currently available for free thanks to sponsorship from a football club and COPE Scotland.
- Considering the Jigsaw Lid that would work to reduce gambling harms within your own team or community.
I once tweeted ‘the streets are our wards’, what I meant by that is that the nursing profession, community nursing in particular, has a significant impact on many areas of someone’s life. Now that gambling harms disproportionally affect people already facing issues of inequality, I believe nurses should be supported in tackling this. Often arising as an unhelpful coping strategy to trauma the risk of online gambling has increased during the challenges of COVID-19 where people are more isolated. Nursing is not a job, it is a vocation, and I know that nurses will make a difference.
“Where the needs of the world and your talents cross, there lies your vocation.” – Aristotle