The Live Well – Stay Well programme on the Island was developed by the Department of Health four years ago and is aimed at helping and supporting people manage their long term health conditions. The next free course is due to commence this week.
If you are living with a long term health condition, the Live Well Stay Well programme could help you. These courses have already helped people with a wide range of health conditions including diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, heart disease, psoriasis, endometriosis and multiple sclerosis.
Live Well Stay Well programme was developed at Stanford University and is run under licence from Stanford by the Isle of Man Department of Health. A similar programme has been running in the UK known as the Expert Patient Programme. Feedback from people who have completed a course on the Island has been very encouraging with a 100% saying they have felt more positive about living with a long term health condition. In 2010, the Live Well – Stay Well course was awarded the Isle of Man Newspapers Award for Excellence, specifically the 2010 Thomas Millar Award for Corporate and Social Responsibility.
Minister for Health, David Anderson MHK, said: “Supporting people to manage long term conditions and to self-care is important and forms part of the Department’s Strategy for the Future of Health Services. The continuing delivery of the award winning Live Well Stay Well programme across the Island means that the public can be supported to learn skills to manage their condition along with their on-going care provided by health and social care professionals.”
The courses are run all over the island and consist of a two and a half hour session every week for six weeks. Anyone with a long term health condition can apply to go on one of the courses and so far they have attracted all ages – from people in their twenties to those in their eighties.
The courses are run by volunteers who themselves have a long term health condition, so they understand the difficulties and situations that can arise. They have all successfully completed a training course and accreditation under licence from Stanford University and they are supported by health care professionals.
The courses deal with both the physical and the psychological aspects of a long term health condition. For example, learning how to improve communication skills might not appear an obvious topic to cover, but this can be hugely helpful to people when they are talking to their doctors and when they are trying to explain the restrictions of their condition to family and work colleagues. The course also teaches relaxation techniques; ways of coping with fatigue and pain, and the importance of maintaining a well-balanced diet.
A key element is for people to acknowledge their condition, be realistic about it, and make allowances so that they don’t put themselves under too much pressure. The group aspects of the course work well as people not only support one another, but can also become quite competitive when it comes to implementing their new, healthier lifestyles.
Ann Corkill, Senior Nurse and Live Well Stay Well programme manager explains: “It can come as a nasty shock to be diagnosed with a long term health condition which means that we can no longer take the efficient functioning of our bodies for granted. Hopefully, if we can reach people early enough – shortly after diagnosis or when things are starting to get difficult – we can give them the tools to help them learn to manage their condition better so that they can carry on in their normal lives for much longer.
“If you want to do something to help with your health, you’ve got to make time for it, so we discuss goals and set an action plan. We try to help people to build in small changes that can make a big difference. It might be deciding to get up ten minutes earlier each morning to make a healthy lunch to take to work, or it might be going for a ten-minute walk at lunchtime. We teach people how to know their limits in exercise and to build in small levels of exercise that can be maintained.
“People with a long term health condition can also feel very lonely, even when they’re surrounded by family and friends, because nobody understands what it’s like to live with that condition. But when you put them into a room with other people who experiencing something similar they find it very helpful and supportive”.
If you would like more information about Live Well Stay Well courses, you can email email@example.com or call 486641.