Community-Based Course at Hospital Helps Maintain Health

A SUCCESSFUL, innovative approach to addressing long-term and chronic health problems and how we can better self manage these is being driven forward in Wigtownshire.

The Community Link Unit which has been established at Newton Stewart Hospital is focused on those people who have a chronic, long-term condition and is aimed at helping to maintain or even improve their health.

Community Link Unit Co-ordinator Michelle McAuley said: “We’re really pleased with how this work has been going, and we’re definitely seeing results.
“What is being offered through the unit is a 12-week course, open to anyone with chronic, long-term conditions including stroke, chronic obstructive airways disease, Parkinson’s disease, fibromyalgia and many other long-term or chronic conditions.
“The course takes a ‘head-to-toe’ approach, looking at everything from psychology to podiatry services which can help to reduce the impact of a chronic condition on physical and mental health – as well as social health and wellbeing.
“The approach is person-centred and person-led, ensuring the person gets the right care and support at the right time.”

The Community Link Unit’s work is now ongoing, following a successful initial 12-week course with a focus on Parkinson’s disease.

Explaining what features as part of the course, Michelle added: “We run a staff-led exercise class which includes fall-prevention exercise as well as Tai Chi and also chair-based exercise.
“In addition to this we also provide information sessions which feature guest presenters from the fields of health, social care, private companies, community groups and charity organisations.
“This not only allows those people on the course to find out about what sort of additional support is available – it also provides a means for them to help shape what is being offered.”
“Referrals to the service can come from any health and social care team, the third sector, and patients can also self-refer. We offer this service to all adults in our region.”

The work of the Community Link Unit in Newton Stewart Hospital comes on the back of an increase in patients with chronic conditions and those with complex multiple needs in health and social care being referred to rehab.

And the integration of health and social care in the region under the Dumfries and Galloway Health and Social Care Partnership has provided an opportunity to evolve the service and to meet the current needs of people in Wigtownshire.

It is acknowledged that there are limited services of this kind within the area.

However, the unit’s work will help empower and enable people to live independently at home, and also re-able others to do so.

It is also aimed at empowering service users in their own care and the development of the services.

The course can also help prevent hospital admissions, and help achieve earlier discharge from hospital.

And it is also being seen to help prevent social isolation.

The team’s success was recognised nationally in Edinburgh recently when they delivered a presentation on their innovative approach.

Michelle said: “We’re absolutely delighted that this approach has proved such a success, meaning we can continue to take it forward and hopefully make a real difference to the lives of so many people.”



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