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Psychological help for long term conditions

Date published: 16 January 2012

Patients that have a long term health condition can now receive treatment for the psychological effects of their illness, as part of a programme developed by Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust.

The Bury Improving Access to Psychological Therapies Service has been working with local stroke, cardiac and COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) services to provide more support to patients who are struggling to cope with their chronic illness. Having a long term condition can often be difficult to manage physically but it can also cause harm to a person’s mental health and wellbeing.

Karin Bacha, Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner at Pennine Care, said: “Patients that have had a stroke or have a chronic condition such as COPD often find that they feel depressed, have a low mood or are more anxious. Whilst community services are well equipped to deal with the physical affects of such an illness, we identified that we could provide specialist support to treat the emotional difficulties that an illness often brings.”

The Bury community stroke service is now trained to identify patients that have a common mental health problem and are able to provide basic therapeutic support. If a patient has a more complex mental health condition, they can be referred to the psychological therapies service for more specialist treatment.

Jo Stevens, Stroke Services Coordinator for Pennine Care, said: “This programme is a great example of how community and mental health services can work together to provide high quality patient care, looking after all aspects of a patient’s health, lifestyle and wellbeing.”

Pennine Care provides community and mental health services to people living in Bury, Oldham and Rochdale, as well as mental health services in Stockport, Tameside and Glossop.

The programme has gained national recognition at the UK Stroke Forum and has been cited as best practice as part of the national NHS Improvement programme.