Nova Scotians Learn How to Self-manage Chronic Conditions

Health and Wellness

March 8, 2012 1:11 PM

NOTE: The following is a feature story about the Your Way to Wellness program.

Better health, improved quality of life and fewer days in hospital are some of the benefits Nova Scotians with chronic health problems are getting from the Your Way to Wellness program.

As part of Better Care Sooner, Your Way to Wellness is one of the ways the province is improving the health and well-being of Nova Scotians.

The evidence-based, self-managed Your Way to Wellness initiative, is based on the Stanford Chronic Disease Self-Management Program, and has helped more than 1,600 Nova Scotians since its launch in 2008.

"The province understands that living with a chronic illness can create anxiety for many, and those affected often feel isolated and alone," said Maureen MacDonald, Minister of Health and Wellness. "Your Way to Wellness is a free program that provides Nova Scotians who suffer from chronic illness, and their family members, the tools they need to lead healthy, active, fulfilling lives."

The program is available across the province and French sessions are held in communities in the Cape Breton and South West district health authorities.

Although different chronic conditions have varied physical impacts on the body, the program focuses on the similar problems many sufferers share such as:
-- difficulties with daily living
-- interacting with the health care system
-- communicating with family and friends
-- dealing with fear, anxiety, pain and depression

Lynn Jones says Your Way to Wellness taught her to better manage her chronic conditions, including arthritis, and says the group approach to learning will benefit everyone.

"I really enjoyed the group interaction," says Jones. "Being part of a group, you realize that even though people may have different health concerns, there are many common threads that bring us all together. You quickly appreciate the group mentality, and once you start, you don't want to miss a session because you don't want to let the others down.

"The goals are set according to the individual. My goal was to begin doing yoga: it has been a year and I now go to yoga three times a week."

Dr. Peter MacDougall, director of the Nova Scotia Chronic Pain Collaborative Care Network, says the Your Way to Wellness program gives his patients confidence and skills to better live with chronic pain.

"If they have a flare plan when the pain worsens, they have the ability to work through it until I can see them," said Dr. MacDougall. "And, the goal-setting facilitates long-term lifestyle changes that improve their overall health and sense of well-being."

People with chronic conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, mental illness, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and/or degenerative disease can attend a session. Family members, caregivers and friends are also welcome.

Sessions are held in groups of six to 15 and conducted by a trained leader.

For more information visit, www.yourway2wellness.gov.ns.ca or call 1-888-672-3444.

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Media Contact: Nicole Brooks
              Health and Wellness
              902-424-2608
              E-mail: Nicole.Brooks@gov.ns.ca