An occupational service for people with multiple sclerosis (MS), which was originally established as a temporary, part-time service, is celebrating its fifth anniversary.
The MS Occupational Therapy Service was established in St James's Hospital in Dublin in March 2012, with support from the charity, MS Ireland.
While only temporary and part-time initially, the service has developed and expanded over the last five years and since May 2016, it has been permanently funded on a full-time basis.
MS is a chronic disease of the central nervous system, which causes a gradual degeneration of the nerves. This results in a progressive deterioration in various functions controlled by the nervous system, such as vision, speech and movement. Around 9,000 people are living with the condition in Ireland
Occupational therapy empowers people with MS to live well. It focuses on how symptoms can impact on daily living skills and this requires specialist assessment and treatment, which is tailored to each individual's needs.
A key part of the service is self-management education programmes, which focus on topics such as managing fatigue, driving and returning to work.
"We have been campaigning for a number of years to secure funding for a permanent full-time occupational therapy service for patients with progressive neurological conditions. We are delighted to have now secured that funding and to be in a position to offer such specialist care aimed at enabling people with MS to live well and manage their disease independently," commented St James's Hospital CEO, Lorcan Birthistle.
According to consultant neurologist, Dr David Bradley, this service has been very successful.
"The management of long-term neurological disorders like MS requires a co-ordinated team of healthcare professionals, and good outcomes depend on access to specialist services like occupational therapy. The occupational therapy service to patients with MS at St. James's has been a great success and is an invaluable part of the team," he commented.
He added that access to occupational therapy and other multidisciplinary services for patients with a range of conditions ‘is a priority issue' for the neurology department of the hospital.