An online programme, which aims to support people living with long-term health conditions, has been officially launched by the HSE National Self-Management Support team.
Almost 40% of people over the age of 50 in Ireland have a chronic health condition, such as asthma, heart failure, diabetes and depression, while 65% of people over the age of 65 have two or more such conditions.
The Living Well programme is a series of online workshops, which is run over a six-week period. There is one workshop per week, which lasts for 2.5 hours.
A maximum of 12 people can take part in each programme and the workshops are run by two trained facilitators, at least one of whom has a long-term condition.
"The emotional support participants give each other is tangible and empowering, regardless of what their condition is. Participants gain a feeling of self-worth through being able to provide support or advice from their own experience to help someone who might be going through a similar thing.
"It is very rewarding over the six weeks to see participants grow in confidence and develop a sense of control over their health conditions and their lives," commented Mary Shields, a Living Well facilitator and a former participant.
The programme was previously delivered face-to-face in the community, but it has now been made available online as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since March, people with long-term health conditions have been advised to take extra precautions as a result of the virus.
"People living with a long-term health condition are more at risk of serious illness if they get coronavirus. In Ireland to date, 37% of those who have tested positive for COVID-19 have an underlying health condition," explained Dr Derval Howley, chair of the interim HSE National Advisory Group for Self Management Support.
She noted that while people taking part in these workshops may have different health conditions, they all face similar challenges, such as managing medication and healthcare appointments, coping with fatigue and dealing with their emotions.
"Living Well is a fantastic free programme which builds confidence and helps participants develop the skills required to better manage their conditions in a supportive and safe way," Dr Howley said.
Anyone with a long-term health condition interested in taking part in this programme can register by contacting their local Living Well team. Contact details are available at www.hse.ie/livingwell, or contact HSELive on 1850 24 1850 or via email at email@example.com.
A short video about the programme can be viewed here.
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