PLATTSBURGH — Workshops targeting how to live more comfortably with chronic diseases continue to be offered for residents across the region.
The Northern Adirondack Medical Home project, which promotes consistent health care among doctors’ offices, regional hospitals and the patient’s home, has been providing a series of Living Healthy workshops for people with chronic and often debilitating diseases.
“The workshops offer a low-tech, support-type program that are peer led,” said Luanne Poland, case manager for Northern Adirondack Medical Home. “They’re based on self-management skills to better manage chronic disease.”
The workshops are modeled after a program developed at Stanford University in California in the 1990s that utilized evidence-based information to provide successful techniques in overcoming problems associated with chronic disease.
“We help people with chronic disease and their caregivers to set manageable goals,” said Poland, who noted that six workshops have been held regionally thus far in several areas, including Plattsburgh, Keeseville, Champlain and Malone.
“At first, people have a tendency to set goals so large that they become overbearing to achieve; they’re insurmountable, so people give up,” she added. “The program teaches people how to set achievable goals, and as they do, you can see their self-confidence grow.”
Each workshop includes one session per week for six weeks. Sessions are between two and two-and-a-half hours each.
Examples of chronic diseases commonly addressed include diabetes, heart disease, chronic pain, arthritis and COPD.
Topics include healthy-eating habits, exercise routines and even how to use living wills and health-care proxies in a complete health-care program.
“One of our biggest areas (of study) is how to communicate better with loved ones and with health-care providers,” Poland said. “We also take a look at the differences between chronic and acute diseases.”
Working with peers who have experienced the same issues as the participants helps build confidence for people who have sometimes struggled to overcome their condition.
“It’s often about making healthier choices, using relaxation-based techniques to reduce stress,” Poland said. “We help them stay focused on their health.”
The program also touches on managing medication properly.
But perhaps most important is the camaraderie that develops between participants.
“We try to keep classes to seven or eight people to help participants build a better support system,” Poland said. “We’ll call people after the first week and ask, ‘How are you doing?’ We want them to set an action plan that they will be able to obtain.”
As the program progresses, the group establishes a “buddy system” for participants to contact one another between meetings to offer help for any obstacles they are facing, she added.
North Country Medical Home will also conduct a co-leader training workshop in August, hopefully attracting participants from earlier programs to continue sharing what they have learned.
Statistics from similar workshops in other regions have shown that participants require fewer hospitalizations, and hospital stays are shorter. Participants also require fewer emergency-room visits.
Programs are free and open to those with chronic illnesses and their caregivers. For more information, call 314-3689.
Email Jeff Meyers: email@example.com
For more information on upcoming workshops, call the Northern Adirondack Medical Home project at 314-3689.