University and NHS team up to support long-term health sufferers
The University of the Highlands and Islands and NHS Highland have started an education programme that will help people to self-manage their long-term health conditions such as arthritis and heart disease.
They have developed two modules, as part of an existing UHI postgraduate degree, for health and social care professionals who will provide support and education of self-management skills to those who live with, or look after someone, with a long-term condition.
The modules were promoted at a conference, chaired by NHS Highland chair Garry Coutts, in the Centre for Health Science, Inverness, attended by more than 100 professionals in health and social care.
People are now living for longer - and that also means an increasing number of people with long-term conditions who are a priority for health, local authority and voluntary sector organisations.
They are more likely to see their local doctor, be admitted to and stay in hospital longer than other people, and require the support of social care, housing and other local authority services, and voluntary support.
Helping them to self-manage their conditions will enable them to enjoy a better quality of life, it is believed.
Garry Coutts said the current medical model of health and social care was no longer sustainable with costs rising at a much higher rate than inflation, coupled with factors including an ageing population and the price of new drugs and treatments, so a more proactive approach was needed.
Mr Coutts, who is also the convener of Scottish Social Services Council and the rector of the University of the Highlands and Islands, said: “Over the next twenty years the population will age and live longer. We will see a continuing shift in the pattern of disease towards long-term conditions and a growing number of older people with multiple conditions and complex needs. These changes will require organisations to work together to promote supported self-management, which will enable people living with long term conditions to achieve and maintain optimum wellbeing”.
Others involved in developing the new Skills for Health-funded education programme are Highland and Argyll and Bute councils, NHS Education for Scotland and the Long-Term Condition Alliance Scotland.
Ian Leslie, dean of science, health and education at the University of the Highlands and Islands, said: “We are delighted to be involved in this venture which will help to improve the lives of many people in our communities. The region’s geography informs the way health and social issues are tackled, and education for practitioners is a very important element.”
The two postgraduate modules, part of the University of the Highlands and Islands MA Health and Wellbeing degree, are being delivered through a flexible blend of learning, including online with tutorial support; face-to-face, and telephone-conferencing.