A service which facilitates the self-management of people with long-term conditions – through personalised wellbeing plans and digital health interventions – has been expanded to include two Scottish islands.
Uist and Barra, in the Outer Hebrides, are to be added to the remote West of Scotland locations served by mPower – an EU-funded project which aims to help people living in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
The project is funded by the EU’s INTERREG VA Programme, and in Scotland operates across remote areas including the Western Isles, as well as Dumfries and Galloway and Ayrshire and Arran.
The project aims to help people with conditions such as diabetes, COPD, dementia and Parkinsons, by connecting them with activities in their community as well as introducing them to health and wellbeing technology designed for home and mobile use.
In the Western Isles the project has operated across Lewis and Harris since November 2017 but in recent months has now expanded with project representatives now working to cover Uist and Barra, meaning the mPower Western Isles team now has three ‘Community Navigators’.
Community Navigators work with those who have either self-referred to the project or been referred from their local health or social care team or from a voluntary sector organisation. Community Navigators work with individuals to develop a health and wellbeing plan which could include arranging access to various eHealth technologies. This might include video calling with health specialists to save them the trouble of physically going to multiple appointments or an appropriate remote health monitoring tool.
The new Community Navigators will be NHS employees but based within local third sector organisations. In Uist the Community Navigator will work out of Cothrom in South Uist, a social enterprise delivering training and skills development to vulnerable groups. In Barra the Community Navigator will be based at Cobhair Bharraigh, an organisation providing support and care for the elderly within their own homes.
Martin Malcom, Head of Public Health Intelligence said: “We are delighted to be working with Cothrom and Cobhair Bharraigh. By working together we aim to best serve the local communities.”
Some residents from Lewis and Harris who have already been supported by the project shared their views about their local Community Navigator, Lorna, and what she has been able to do to help them.
“mPower has really helped me and my husband make positive changes,” said one. “I found that discussing options for activities both locally and more widely with Lorna has helped motivate me to pursue some of my interests and get more involved in my community. My husband found a home visit from Lorna helped greatly as he wanted to purchase a tablet to learn its uses. After trying out an mPower tablet, my husband has now bought his own and loves it. Thank you mPower.”
“Lorna helped me with my tablet (no, not the ones I swallowed but the other kind!). On my tablet, Lorna found some chair exercises for my health condition, which I find helps my strength. Lorna also suggested a social group in my area which I really enjoy as it gets me out of the house and I get to meet new people. Thanks for all you have done to help me.”
“My experiences with mPower have been very favourable indeed. The home visits I had from Lorna were very helpful and welcomed. She kept me well informed of activities and groups that I could participate in. Without her, I would never have been aware of such activities, even some on my own doorstep I wasn’t aware of. She also accompanied me to some which I found helpful. She got me in touch with Western Isles Cancer Care Initiative which I benefited from financially. She also introduced me to befriending Lewis and I’m looking forward to seeing what they have to offer. Lorna’s really helpful attitude and warm friendly smile makes her the ideal person for the position she is in. The only downside is I had my last visit from her yesterday.”
Lorna Morrison, Community Navigator, said: “mPower has already made a great difference to the lives of many in Lewis and Harris and we aim to continue to support many more. Developing a Wellbeing Action plan with our service users is a great way to set goals in relation to health and wellbeing and allows our service users to take a step forward to begin achieving their goals with my support and encouragement.”
Sue Long, mPower’s Implementation Lead for the Western Isles, said: “I look forward to working with Flosh and Isabel and it is great news that mPower will now be extended throughout the Western Isles. This programme provides us with a real opportunity to empower those who are managing Long Term Conditions and may have become isolated to connect to what’s on offer in the local community.”
The mPower project has a budget of €8.7million and is funded through the European Union’s INTERREG VA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body.
The project is match funded by the Northern Ireland Executive, the Irish Government and the Scottish Government.
For more information, visit https://mpowerhealth.eu.
You can be referred to the project by your GP or other healthcare professional. You can ask them to be referred if they haven’t already suggested it. Or you can submit a self-referral form. Forms can be picked up from local libraries, your GP Surgery or from a healthcare professional. Or you can contact the project team directly for a copy of the form, contact details are below.
- Lorna Morrison, (Lewis and Harris), telephone (01851) 708022 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Isabel Morrison – (Uists), telephone 07971 715010 or email email@example.com
- Florianne (Flosh) Maclean Barra), telephone 07971 715009 or email firstname.lastname@example.org