Chronic pain can significantly disrupt a person’s life.
An exciting new initiative, the Sligo University Hospital Pain Management Education Programme, is one of the successful projects to benefit from the €20m Sláintecare Integration Fund announced by Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD this week.
The Pain Management Education Programme involves teaching patients a wide range of skills on how to manage chronic pain, with an emphasis on moving away from hospital-based, consultant-led clinics to focus instead on long term self-management in patients’ daily lives. Three programmes are scheduled to run simultaneously every 8 weeks.
The courses will include education sessions with nurses from the Pain Clinic at the hospital, as well as psychology sessions to teach coping strategies and physiotherapy sessions to improve mobility.
As time goes on, the Programme aims to extend into the communities on an outreach basis across the region (Sligo, Leitrim, Donegal, West Cavan, North Mayo), to deliver the education programme close to the patients’ homes.
In addition, patients may access the ‘Attend Anywhere’ clinics for additional support, where they can connect with doctors and nurses at the hospital using a secure online platform from the comfort of their own home.
The programme will also include shorter pre-clinic education sessions to bring education to those patients on waiting lists for the Pain Clinic. International evidence indicates that when patients are given education on managing pain, a significant number will benefit.
Dr Therese O’Connor, Consultant in Anaesthesia, Intensive Care and Pain Medicine at Sligo University Hospital said, “With our aging population and the huge waiting lists for hospital Pain Clinic appointments, we need to move the emphasis away from treatment in hospital to focus on how the patients can manage the pain themselves and improve their own quality of life. The concept of ‘Treat Your Own Pain’ can be embraced and facilitated by education about pain, strategies to reduce it and assistance in learning to improve mobility.
“Earlier this year we ran a pilot Pain Management Education Programme and we were able to demonstrate very significant positive results. The results of our pilot are supported by international evidence.
“We believe that patients are entitled to education about their pain and that they should be offered an opportunity to self-manage their pain at home. We believe also that long waiting time for hospital appointments are not helpful to our patients and we aim to offer patients on our waiting lists the opportunity to learn how to best manage their own pain. Such programmes have been very successful in other countries and we will now be able to offer this intervention to our patients in the North West.
“The funding that we have received (€276k) will enable us to roll out the Pain Management Education Programme into communities. As a result, we will be better able to offer a more appropriate home-based service for our patients.”
Grainne McCann, General Manager, Sligo University Hospital said, “The Sláintecare Integration Fund was awarded to projects that demonstrate innovative ways in which people can engage in their own health; projects that represent best practice; and projects that promote hospital avoidance.
“The Pain Management Education Programme proposal by Sligo University Hospital meets all of these criteria. When the education programme is fully implemented we expect to see a reduction in the number of patients who need to be admitted to hospital, a reduction in the length of time these patients will stay in hospital and a reduction in waiting times. Most of all, we want to provide additional supports for people living with chronic pain."