More than 100 people in Walsall with long-term health conditions and carers attended an event in Bloxwich today to launch Self Care Week – and even completed an exercise class.
It was the first time Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust had hosted the event post-COVID-19 and the first one at Bloxwich Active Living Centre, attracting around a dozen providers promoting their services.
All patients or carers who attended the two-and-a-half hour session had completed a six-week self care management course and almost all were over 60 years old.
Three speakers addressed the gathering – Dr Simon Harlin, a GP, Community Clinical Lead from Walsall Healthcare, Dan Craggs, Healthy Spaces Activator from Walsall Council’s Healthy Spaces Team and Jody Ross, Specialist Diabetes Nurse.
Dr Harlin explained that every GP should now have their own social prescriber, which is someone employed to put patients in touch with experts who can help them with any conditions they have, for example mobility or loneliness.
Dan, who specialises in physical activity, conducted a gentle, seated 30-minute exercise class before Jody presented on diabetes awareness.
Following the talks, people could chat to – and receive free literature from – numerous providers, such as whg (Walsall Housing Group), Cancer Information Support Service, Healthwatch Walsall, Bloxwich Community Partnership, Hollybank House – Intermediate Care Services, Podiatry Service, Housing Standards from Walsall Council and Healthy Years Ahead/Better Building Opportunities.
Karen Hughes, 60 from Pelsall, completed the course online and is a full-time carer for her husband Paul, 65. His complex health needs have forced him to give up work for a finance company and mean he can no longer drive.
She said: “Initially we had found it really difficult to find out information. But I found the course really helpful because talking to and listening to others in your situation and finding out how they manage makes you realise you’re not alone, and you can learn from others too.”
Through today’s event, Karen, a mum of three grown-up children and grandmother of five, found she can do a follow-up course with Paul starting in January and she plans to enrol them both.
On the six-week course, which is two and a half hours per week, people are educated on healthy eating, pain management, distraction techniques.
If they attend four sessions or more, they receive a book covering the whole course and more, titled ‘Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Pain’, plus a CD of gentle exercises.
Some 400 people per year complete the courses, which number 40 held at community venues across the borough each year, a figure which is soon to expand.
Julie Newman, a volunteer with the Self Care Management team which organises the event, said: “The atmosphere was really positive and everyone has given us really good feedback. It’s something we aim to carry out periodically throughout the year.”
Self Care Week continues with a promotional stand at Walsall Manor Hospital on Thursday and a walk around the Arboretum on Friday.