EPP CIC volunteer Adrian Harrison, 56, of Ashton under Lyne, mans a stall at Tameside Hospital once a month and works with the Health Information Centre in the Hartshead South reception to inform people about the courses.
Adrian was diagnosed with epilepsy in 1998 after blacking out at the wheel of his car. In 2011 he attended a course run by EPP CIC to help him cope with his condition and he now visits healthcare facilities and community groups across Tameside and Glossop to educate people about self-management.
He said: “The work I have done with Tameside Hospital has been positive right from day one. It’s been a busy day and the stall has been popular. People are seeing the stall and are being made aware.
“It’s amazing how many medical staff are coming over. If staff are aware they can point patients towards the service as they leave hospital, which will help them to manage their life better no matter what their illness.
“The main objective is to help people to live their life better if they have got some form of long term illness,” Adrian explains. “When people are diagnosed they think it’s game over so they get more ill. It’s a vicious circle of stress, anxiety and other illnesses.
“Self-management is about finding a way to stop the cycle, a matter of looking at what will help them. We often find that people who come on the courses say the benefits are a reduction in the number of times they go to their GP, A&E and the amount of medication they take.”
Expert Patient Programme courses are usually run over six weekly sessions of two-and-a-half hours and look at a number of topics including dealing with pain and extreme tiredness, coping with feelings of depression, relaxation techniques and exercise, healthy eating, communicating with family, friends and professionals and planning for the future.
The aim is to give people the confidence to take more responsibility to self-manage their health, while encouraging them to work collaboratively with health and social care professionals. EPP CIC courses are aimed at a wide range of people, reflecting diversity in terms of different health conditions, age groups, geographical locations and ethnicity.
As well as courses for managing chronic conditions, there are also programmes for carers and young people. The courses are run by tutors who themselves have a long-term condition and can be taught in other languages or British Sign Language.