Our 3 Solutions to Long Term Conditions

Long Term Conditions 2016

I arrived just in time to get a seat near the front of this heavily attended event, which began shortly after 9am after being officially opened by Professor Gillian Leng, Director for Health and Social Care at NICE. I was most impressed however, with the speaker who immediately followed her. Her name is Jacquie White and she is NHS England’s Deputy Director for Long Term Conditions.

I enjoyed hearing what Ms White had to say because she began her speech by sharing with us a most honest, real and thought-provoking account of her own experiences after seeing what happened to her nan, who lived with a debilitating long-term health condition. She also highlighted the importance of putting patients at the centre of their care since no one knows more about their condition than the patient.

On the subject of putting patients first, what was odd about this conference was that, at no point, did we get to hear from the patients about their experiences of living with a long term condition or being treated for one! Surely, if we are to put patients at the centre of their care then we need to be doing exactly that – listening to what they have to say! Note to conference organisers: What happened there then?

One question that I would have liked addressed at this conference was HOW are we, as a nation, going to seriously reduce the numbers of people being diagnosed with preventable Long Term Conditions?

I would like to offer NHS England three (yes three!) possible solutions to this problem.

Solution Number 1:

Our primary care physicians, our GP’s and Nurses, need to be effectively trained on delivering lifestyle education to their patients. I mentioned this in my last newsletter and I will repeat it again here. Those who train for 10 years to become a GP in this country do not receive any education on how to EMPOWER patients to lead a healthy life. Furthermore, the majority of medical schools do not even dedicate any lesson time to the importance of lifestyle factors on health outcomes! Move Eat Treat actually did a straw poll of medical students about this issue and found that 71% did not feel adequately prepared to advise patients about their lifestyle…this really is awful considering that long term conditions represent 55% of GP appointments, 68% of outpatient attendances, 72% of inpatient bed days, 58% of A&E attendances, 59% of Practice Nurse appointments and 40% of calls to the 111 service (click here to view data source).

Our doctors have such a vital role to play in delivering this message about poor lifestyle contributing to poor health outcomes because, according to IPSOS MORI, it is still the doctors who the public trust the most.

Solution Number 2

Once doctors understand for themselves the importance of giving lifestyle-related advice, the message then needs to delivered in such a way that puts the patient at the centre and most importantly, will help the patient take personal responsibility for ACTION.

One way to do this is for our doctors and nurses to be trained in using motivational interviewing techniques during their consultations. This is a very effective method that doctors could learn to support their patients in coming up with the solution to the problem they are presenting to the doctor with.

Having attended the MOVE EAT TREAT conference in November last year, I met a doctor by the name of Dr Tim Anstiss who is actually training clinicians in using motivational interviewing with their patients. I would recommend to NHS England that they seriously consider trialing motivational interviewing in GP surgeries across the country, as an approach to support primary care physicians to manage their revolving door of patients who are coming back and forth in to their surgeries who clearly seem to have no idea or understanding that the choices they are making in regards to their lifestyle is actually contributing to their suffering.

Solution Number 3

They say that 3 is the magic number. So here goes!

N.ableD is Solution Number 3! I set up N.ableD because the service didn’t exist when I needed it most, which was to prevent my father’s health from declining further after his long-stay in hospital. As most of you are aware, N.ableD exists to improve the health and well-being of those who, for whatever reason, struggle to leave their home. How do we do this? By giving them access to their own Personal Trainer, Physiotherapist and Nutritional Therapist (if needed).

Why do we do this? Because physical inactivity is one of the biggest risk factors for someone developing a chronic disease.

To demonstrate that N.ableD could indeed enable someone to have improved health outcomes, I decided to self-fund my own small-scale Pilot Project last Summer to show just how beneficial home-based physical activity could be for a person who was socially-isolated and already living with 2 or more long-term conditions.

I supported 6 people between the ages of 26-78 and offered each of them 12 x 1 hour personal training sessions over a course of 3 months and brought an exciting range of mobile gym equipment with me for their use (yes, MagneTrainer was also brought along!)

My results were promising:

60% of those who completed my 12-week home-based programme went from being “abnormally depressed” to “normal” (no need for prescribing anti-depressant medications then)

80% increased their lower body strength (helping to reduce their risk of injury from falling and reducing the likelihood of developing osteoarthritis in the hips and knees)

60% lost an average of 4 kilos in body weight (helping to reduce their risk of developing cardiovascular disease)

This was all achievable simply by visiting someone in their own home for 1 hour, once a week for 3 month’s as a way to support them to become more physically active.

Instead the reality of this kind of service not existing when my dad needed it most means that he is now no longer able to live independently and continue living in the place he called home for 20 years. Where is he now? He is living, or rather existing, in a nursing home facility at the expense of the state and of his own, for which he himself is paying £964.28 per month to be exact.

Solution 1 and 2 may take some time to implement but the good news is Solution Number 3 is already here.

I have a team of highly specialised Personal Trainers, Physiotherapists and Nutritional Therapists who are all in position and ready to start helping those who, for whatever reason, find it difficult to leave the home and need the support of a kind and patient person who can empower them to become more active and guide them to make better lifestyle choices. All with the sole aim of helping that person to achieve long-lasting good health. My clients are fortunate they do not have to bear the potential reality that my dad now faces but then neither should the rest of society!

Sadly our nation of people now appear to be heavily reliant and overmedicated on a whole range of prescription drugs, as opposed to being woken up to the reality that to live well starts with the basics of spending much less time sitting down, going for regular brisk walks, having good relationships with other people, being conscious of what exactly you are consuming to fuel your body and of course, being kind to yourself. And if people aren’t able to leave their home or need some guided support on how to do this, then they can always call us as we are here to help.

One Comment

  1. Posted September 11, 2016 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    Woh I enjoy your articles, saved to my bookmarks! .

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