Versus Arthritis branches and groups go virtual

Northern Ireland

Our branches and groups have gone virtual, maintaining support and friendships through Facebook, WhatsApp and by participating in a successful programme of ‘virtual events’ covering a range of topics including pharmacy, mental wellbeing, physiotherapy and physical activity. We’re continuing to explore further sessions, co-designed with branch and group members as well as healthcare professionals.

Although our Information Hubs are paused, our volunteers remain busy upskilling in their roles with guest MSK healthcare professionals attending their support meetings. Volunteers have also diversified to deliver our new ‘Patient Voice’ volunteer role - developed during this period in response to external demand, to provide MSK patient insight to healthcare educators and their students. Our 1:1 service continues via phone with up to 4 weeks of volunteer self-management support for those who are unable/not ready for a group setting.

Our Training Volunteers continue to deliver self-management courses virtually. We’ve been delivering a condensed version of our 6-week Stanford Accredited courses since June. Courses are facilitated by 2 volunteer tutors with up to 6 participants to allow for shared learning. Our 2 week Challenging Pain course will reach even more people and act as a stepping-stone to the 6-week course.

To find out more about our services contact Anna Lyons, Living Well with Arthritis Service Manager, a.lyons@versusarthritis.org.

Scotland

We’re ‘keeping people moving’ through our virtual Tai Chi for Arthritis sessions and encouraging people to keep their step count up with online support from Paths for All, that accesses virtual walks with audio/video clips. Our newsletter to volunteers has been a great success; we know it reaches far and beyond with participants supported by partner organisations using the content for their weekly self-management focus.

Our branch and group network has worked hard at keeping people connected through welfare calls, virtual gatherings and ensuring the most vulnerable are linked to local support and COVID-19 response teams. Links with our ESCAPE pain facilitators are helping to facilitate the planning of our first ESCAPE-Pain programme in Scotland, when we are safe to do so!

For more information please contact Carol Graham, Partnership and Learning Manager, c.graham@versusarthritis.org.

Wales

During COVID-19, we’ve continued to support people living with MSK conditions by continuing to deliver virtual support groups. We’ve worked hard to ensure our content is varied and engaging and our virtual sessions have included hand massage, aromatherapy, gardening and virtual walks.

We’re using Funding from the Welsh Government to develop the CWTCH Cymru Project, which will enable us to develop our support and activity groups, workshops and information hubs even further. CWTCH will enable us to help more people across Wales connect with others, providing early intervention and prevention, transforming the way people’s needs for care and support are met, ensuring that nobody will have to live with the pain, fatigue, and isolation that arthritis causes. In response to COVID-19 we will deliver a Core Skills digital offer for healthcare professionals, until it becomes safe to deliver our face-to-face workshops.

For more information contact Wayne Morgan, Living Well Manager w.morgan@versusarthritis.org.

England

We provide peer support and support with self-help for people across England with all forms of arthritis including lupus, gout and fibromyalgia. We also have information stands in healthcare settings.

During lockdown, our staff and volunteers have been working hard supporting people with arthritis in a range of ways from online peer support and social media to telephone calls and posting useful resources and information. Some physical activity has continued online such as Tai Chi and seated exercise and we’ve also linked people to a wide range of physical activity resources. We have a growing network of local support groups. To find one in England, search on our In Your Area pages.

Our Living Well with Arthritis Commissioned Services in England guide people with osteoarthritis of the knee and/or hip through a Shared Decision-Making process to determine which treatment options are right for them. It also improves care by empowering people to be closely involved with their own care planning. More than 6,500 people have accessed our services across England.

For more information about our commissioned services please see: LWwA Commissioned Services.

To find out more please contact Lauren Williams, Living Well with Arthritis Service Manager l.williams@versusarthritis.org.