One of the common things a person given the diagnosis of an inflammatory arthritis or an autoimmune disease asks me is if they can alter their diet in some way.
It's pretty clear to most that smoking and too much booze is not good, but what foods they should eat more of or what they should eat less of, is more confusing.
Another concern is how they should change their activity.
Is exercise going to hurt their joints? What sort of exercise will be harmful, what will help?
Some have already searched for answers on the web and have seen the conflicting advice.
At our clinic, we have experts to answer these questions but it can be daunting, expensive and time-consuming for our patients to see all these professionals to get good quality answers.
Especially, while they’re trying to come to terms with the diagnosis, the various medications to be used, and the investigations & monitoring that need to occur.
To try and help this situation, we came up with the idea of a group session where we can address these issues in a more cost-effective, convenient manner.
The elements of this Q&A session which we are piloting:
- Once a month, BJC Health will run a multidisciplinary group session for people who’ve just been diagnosed with Spondyloarthritis/ Ankylosing Spondylitis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriatic Arthritis, SLE & connective tissue disease.
- The group will have a maximum of 10 patients.
- The person is encouraged to bring 1 significant other, i.e. a partner or relative or close friend.
- People are told it’s a group session before attending, with emphasis that no direct personal and medical information is shared apart from the diagnosis.
- BJC staff in attendance will include our rheumatology care coordinator, our dietitian, a physiotherapist, an exercise physiologist.
- We will explain that lifestyle improvement can help manage disease. It is an important adjunct to medication. We will answer questions & concerns.
- At the start of the meeting, brief introductions will take place.
- Short explanations by the dietitian, physiotherapist, exercise physiotherapist regarding what they do & how they help people.
- We then open up to questions & answers with backup questions & answers by our facilitator in case the group is a little quiet.
We think the advantages of this sort of format might be:
- We can answers common Qs asked by patients, and they can learn from each other, hopefully in a less threatening environment.
- Their significant other can also learn and understand their situation better.
- For BJC Health, it’s more glue to bring the team together with patients at the centre. This does serve as our unique selling point and is part of our mission.
Time will tell and we hope people will think this useful enough to book in.