Chronic diseases are widely prevalent today with a substantial proportion of Canadians living with one or more chronic health conditions. Chronic diseases such as diabetes, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and asthma can significantly impair an individual’s ability to carry out daily activities, affecting their quality of life. Not only do these conditions impact the lives of those living with them, but they also affect their loved ones who may need to fill a new and unfamiliar role acting as their caregivers. Although these conditions generally cannot be cured, some good news is that they can be managed through proper education and support. Individuals living with chronic conditions can learn to take control of their health and alter the progression of their diseases. Beyond this, their caregivers can also learn how they can play a role in supporting and caring for their loved ones.
Those living with chronic conditions benefit from an active engagement in their health care. By developing the skills and confidence to better manage the physical and emotional effects of their condition, individuals living with chronic conditions can start to feel better and use health care services more efficiently. Referred to as self-management, the ability of an individual to manage the symptoms and treatments associated with their condition allows individuals to become an active participant in their own care. By increasing the awareness of caregivers about self-management as a strategy to approach chronic illness, we can make sure everyone involved is well-equipped to support and promote the importance of self-care in the management of chronic conditions. There is help available!
The Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) provides funding for self-management workshops available to Ontarians with chronic conditions. Free to participants, these workshops aim to empower individuals to more effectively deal with their disease and maintain a higher quality of life. Participants of the workshops learn to manage their own health and the symptoms associated with their condition as well as how to communicate effectively with their health care team. Free in-person and online workshops are available across Ontario that can help those in need build the knowledge and skill sets required to manage their own health and chronic conditions. Caregivers, friends and family members of loved ones experiencing chronic conditions are also welcome to participate in these workshops and may benefit from learning about the role of self-management as a strategy for individuals with chronic illnesses.
Developed at Stanford University, the self-management programs empower individuals living with chronic health conditions to build skills and confidence to help them cope with their disease and live a healthier life. “I can do things and it’s up to me to do it. It’s up to me to go find help if I need it.” – Workshop participant testimonial.
Research has shown these programs lead to improved health status and self-efficacy of participants, as well as fewer visits to physicians and days spent in the hospital.
To find out more about the Online Chronic Disease Self-Management Program, visit http://www.ontarioselfmanagement.ca/. To learn about the regional in-person workshops offered across Ontario, click the ‘regional programs’ tab and enter your postal code to find the services available in your area.