Living Well Self-Management Program Helps People Thrive Despite Chronic Conditions

LD Madigan

When people encounter health issues, many times they put life on hold until things can “get back to normal”. During this time, they may stop doing the things they enjoy and stop being physically active because they may no longer able to do things “the way they used to”.

But when the health condition continues month after month or year after year, people start to feel isolated from family and friends. Some may even experience symptoms of depression in addition to the day-to-day symptoms of their health condition.

There can be a lot of difficult emotions such as anger, frustration or guilt and many mourn the loss of things they “used to be able to do”.

Intermountain Healthcare and others offer classes that help individuals manage their chronic issues and help get them get their daily life back. The Living Well Self-Management Classes offer people tools they can use to live their life despite their chronic health condition. Even though things may not be exactly how they were in the past, people are surprised to find what they are still accomplish after making some simple changes.

The Living Well Self-Management Programs are evidence-based programs originally developed by Stanford University and have been shown to improve self-efficacy, life satisfaction and resourcefulness. They can be attended by not only the individual with the chronic/long-term condition but also by their family member or support person.

The Programs Include: Living Well with Chronic Conditions (English and Spanish available), Living Well with Chronic Pain, and Living Well with Diabetes (English and Spanish available).

“During class we not only introduce new methods to manage day-to-day symptoms, but we also create a safe, inclusive environment for people to try these new techniques,” said Rebbi Burdett, Self-Management Program Coordinator at Intermountain. “Classes provide an opportunity for people to interact with other individuals who are experiencing similar symptoms and face similar barriers. We have found that even though people may not have the same chronic health condition, the challenges and day-to-day symptoms they are dealing with are quite similar.”

The Living Well with Chronic Conditions is a great foundational class for any type of long-term health condition. This can include high blood pressure, depression and anxiety, arthritis, really any type of conditions that is long and sustained. Living Well with Chronic Pain is geared towards those with all types of long-term pain conditions. Those with low back pain, fibromyalgia, chronic headaches and migraines, are just a selection of pain issues that people with these issues can benefit from registering.

Self-management tools are becoming a foundational element of many integrated care models for various types of health conditions, such as with chronic pain and diabetes. By providing these free classes, it makes this type of care more accessible for all populations.

Classes can be attended by not only the individual with the chronic/long-term condition but also by their family member or support person. It’s encouraged to attend class together, as it created the opportunity for dialog on certain topics that are often challenging. But there is always welcome to attend individually as well.

“Coming to class allows people to provide and give support to others and share tips and advice on things that they have found useful,” Burdett said. “Numerous participants have said that the sense of community and belonging that they felt from the group gave them hope for the future. It let them know that they weren’t alone.

All of the classes talked about here are provided for free to the community, available in Spanish, and accessible in a variety of ways. Sessions are mainly being taught online in live virtual class settings or via telephone conference calls. In-person classes have started to return as well.

Virtual classes are a great option for those who are familiar with technology and have access to a smart devices with a webcam. But telephone options are good for those who may not be comfortable with technology or don’t have access to reliable internet or a smart device with a webcam.

Classes are also available at http://www.livingwell.utah.gov/ or by calling 801-442-5544.

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With over 25 years of healthcare communications experience, including public health, consumer products, and the largest healthcare system in the intermountain west. Passionate about helping people get good information to support their health.

Salt Lake City, UT
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