Free Chronic Conditions Self-Management Program offered through PHC

Jane Reddington

Sounder Staff

Tuesday, January 10 2017

For six consecutive weeks running from January 19 to February 23, 2017, a free Chronic Conditions Self-Management Program will be held at the Albert Reed Memorial Fire Hall on Thursdays from 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sponsored by the People for a Healthy Community (PHC) and facilitated by the University of Victoria (UVic) Institute on Aging & Lifelong Learning, this program will enable people to learn to live a healthier, happier life despite their conditions.

“Working in partnership with UVic, People for a Healthy Community is able to provide this workshop opportunity,” says Brenda Fowler, Executive Director for the PHC. “The new fire hall is an excellent training room, and the practical work plans developed for each participant are something which can be worked on throughout the year. Sometimes making small changes in our daily habits can have a large impact.”

Mark Davies is the Senior Program Coordinator of Self-Management Programs with UVic. “Our basic concept is that we train volunteers in the community to lead a scripted six-week program that meets once a week. We model the activity and ask people to form an action plan every week that’s something they want to do, that’s achievable and specific. For someone it might be walking three times a week, for someone else it might be learning to say no.”

Davies says that last year 240 programs like this one were offered throughout British Columbia. He says they have binders in his office filled with letters of thanks from participants who were given a setting to activate change in their lives.

“It’s baby steps. People have a goal in mind. When you’re in pain the last thing you want to do is exercise. For someone else it might be cleaning a closet. The first step is finding something you want to do. It needs to be a specific action you can measure in a week. It’s supposed to be fun and the leaders on Gabriola have chronic conditions themselves. It’s making sure from Gabriola to Fort Nelson that people learn healthier ways to live, and the motivation to feel more positive about their lives.” The workshop leaders themselves have successfully adopted the techniques taught in the program.

Davies says it can be easy to feel depressed but the workshop provides information, strategies, techniques and everyone gets a free textbook and handouts. The workshop is also about sharing information, reducing stress and learning relaxation techniques, and with the leaders being locals in the community, the program is, at its heart, about people helping their neighbours.

“We’re trying to activate people being part of the planning process in their own health,” says Davies, who also says that generally participants come to the program with conditions like arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, asthma and depression that is not clinical. These chronic conditions can cause symptoms like fatigue, pain, breathing difficulties, sleep problems, loss of energy, depression and anxiety about the future. Family members, friends and caregivers are also welcome to join in the program.

“Sometimes it’s hard to talk to family about your condition.” Davies says by age 65 most Canadians will have at least two chronic conditions.  “People may be at home feeling sorry for themselves, but if they’re in a group and they see people doing things, there’s a peer recognition. People gain confidence and motivation. We need a maximum of eight to 10 people to sign up, to a maximum of 16. It’s not like you’re going to be in a 50-person seminar but we want enough people so that you have peer grouping.”

Six months after being through the program, participants who had been evaluated said they were using more coping strategies to deal with pain, they spent more time doing exercise, perceived they were in better health, and felt their condition had less impact on their lives.

Register today by calling 1-866-902-3767 toll free or call Carol 250-247-9072. To register online go to www.selfmanagementbc.ca. The Gabriola Fire Hall is located on Church Street.